2014 North Carolina Tar Heels Team Preview
North Carolina Tar Heels
Head Coach: Larry Fedora
2013 Record: 7-6 Overall, 4-4 ACC Coastal
2013 Bowl Result: Beat Cincinnati 39-17 in the Belk Bowl
2013 returning starters: 8 offense, 7 defense
Odds to win 2015 College Football Championship: 100/1
Odds to win 2014 ACC Championship Game: 10/1
Odds to win 2014 ACC Coastal Division: 7/4
Regular Season Wins: over 8 -125 / under 8 -105
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North Carolina started off the season 1-5 last year but then won 5 straight games to become bowl eligible. The regular season ended with a 27-25 loss to rival Duke. The Tar Heels would then rout Cincinnati 39-17 in the Belk Bowl in what amounted to a home game in Charlotte.
Fifteen starters are back for North Carolina under coach Larry Fedora now in his third year in Chapel Hill. North Carolina is favored to win the ACC Coastal Division over Miami and Virginia Tech.
North Carolina averaged 277 passing yards and 148 rushing yards last season. The Tar Heels averaged 33 points a game. Eight starters return for offensive coordinator Seth Littrell.
Last season quarterback Bryn Renner suffered a shoulder injury and missed the last 6 games of the season. Renner is now with the Denver Broncos. He threw for 1,765 yards with 10 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. Marquise Williams took over for Renner and will be the quarterback in 2014. Williams completed 58.1% of his passes for 1,698 yards with 15 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. Williams was also the leading rusher for UNC with 111 carries for 536 yards and 6 touchdowns.
North Carolina will employ a quartet of talented running backs in addition to Williams. Running back T.J. Logan returns after he had 93 carries for 533 yards and 4 touchdowns, plus 10 catches for 124 yards. Incoming freshman Elijah Hood will also get carries. Romar Morris had 69 carries for 296 yards and 5 touchdowns, plus 12 catches. Khris Francis had 63 carries for 236 yards and a touchdown, and also had a touchdown catch.
The Tar Heels must replace tight end Eric Ebron now with the Detroit Lions. Ebron was all-ACC and had 62 catches for 973 yards and 3 touchdowns. Quinshad Davis does return after making 48 catches for 730 yards and 10 touchdowns. Ryan Switzer returns after making 32 catches for 341 yards and 3 touchdowns. Bug Howard and T.J. Thorpe will also get a lot of catches. Howard had 4 touchdown catches and Thorpe had 2 touchdowns.
The offensive line struggled at times last year and must replace star left tackle James Hurst. Center Lucas Crowley has star potential and could anchor a rebuilt line.
North Carolina gave up 403 yards and 25 points a game on defense last year. Seven starters return from that unit under co-coordinators Dan Disch and Vic Koenning. The defense got a lot better in the second half of the season and not coincidentally the team started winning around that time.
The defensive line must replace star end Kareem Martin. Still Norkeithus Otis returns after making 7.5 sacks in 2013. Nose tackle Ethan Farmer is a good run stopper. All in all the unit is deep and talented.
The linebacking corps took a hit when middle linebacker Darius Lipford declared for the NFL supplemental draft in July. Still Travis Hughes returns for one more year.
Cornerback Ryan Walker emerged as a star last year. Corner Tim Scott moves to free safety. Safety Dominique Green and Ram Malik Simmons also showed potential in 2013.
Kicker Thomas Moore doesn’t have the strongest leg but is reliable inside 40 yards. Punter Tommy Hibbard has led the ACC in net punting for two straight years. Switzer returned 5 punts for touchdowns last season and Logan brought back two kicks for touchdowns.
North Carolina opens with home games against Libery and San Diego State. They travel to East Carolina and Notre Dame. In the ACC, North Carolina travels to Clemson, Miami, Virginia and Duke. The Tar Heels host Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Pittsburgh and North Carolina State. Road games against Clemson, Notre Dame and Miami will be tough as will home against Virginia Tech. I think UNC wins 9 games and the ACC Coastal division.
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