2014 UNC Preview: What You Need To Know
North Carolina S Norkeithus Otis
North Carolina S Norkeithus Otis
Posted Jun 17, 2014

Preview 2014 - What You Need To Know About North Carolina (Getty Images)

2014 North Carolina Preview

What You Need To Know...

- 2014 North Carolina Preview 
2014 Depth Chart & Unit Rankings To Come This Summer

What You Need To Know About The Offense: Now that Larry Fedora's up-tempo, no-huddle spread is entering its third season in Chapel Hill, expectations include an uptick in production. First things first. The Tar Heels must decide on a triggerman. Marquise Williams was a revelation standing in for Bryn Renner last year, but redshirt freshman Mitch Trubisky has mounted a challenge this offseason. Carolina has ample talent at the skill position to spread the field with size and speed. The backfield is deep, and Quinshad Davis is one of the ACC's best pass-catchers. The Heels are also determined to get punt return man extraordinaire Ryan Switzer more involved with the offense in 2014. The attack's biggest concern is up front, where its all-star left tackle and center are gone. There's no way around the fact that the O-line will be green, with G Landon Turner likely to be the only upperclassman in the lineup. In fact, the quarterback's blindside could be protected by a true freshman, early enrollee Bentley Spain.

What You Need To Know About The Defense: The Heels improved as 2013 unfolded, yielding no more than 27 points in each of the final nine games. The D wants to seize that momentum and carry it into a new year. While seven starters return to Carolina's unique 4-2-5 alignment, graduating DE Kareem Martin, who had a team-high 11.5 sacks, will be difficult to replace. Bandit Norkeithus Otis is close to a sure thing in the pass rush, but he'll need help, preferably from linemen. Four-star DE Jeremiah Clarke will get every opportunity to contribute in his first season with the program. The Heels are a little more confident about their back seven. From the team that allowed only six touchdown passes over the final eight games, linebackers Travis Hughes and Jeff Schoettmer, and safeties Tim Scott and Dominique Green return. Sophomore corners Brian Walker and Desmond Lawrence are set to go under the microscope as they close in on starting gigs.

Players You Need To Know

1. WR Quinshad Davis, Jr.
Davis has had an auspicious first two seasons with the Tar Heels. After busting out as a true freshman, he ranked second to TE Eric Ebron with 48 catches for 730 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2013. Davis is a long target, who uses his wingspan and 6-4, 205-pound frame to pluck balls out of the air. He can glide past defenders on go-routes, and his work-ethic is among the best on the team. After earning honorable mention All-ACC a season ago, Davis is targeting loftier goals now that he's entered the second-half of his Carolina career.

2. Bandit Norkeithus Otis, Sr.
It takes a versatile athlete to play the ‘Bandit', a cross between an outside linebacker and a stand-up end. It takes a player with the skill set of Otis. The 6-1, 240-pound oversized linebacker made a smooth transition in 2013 with 49 tackles, 13 stops behind the line, 7.5 sacks, four passes defended, nine hurries and two forced fumbles. Otis excelled at the position, earning honorable mention All-ACC, but especially when he was charging upfield to disrupt the pocket. His athleticism and backside closing speed will result in a monster finale in Chapel Hill.

3. WR/PR Ryan Switzer, Soph.
Without much warning, Switzer came out of nowhere to author one of the best seasons by a true freshman in 2013. The unimposing 5-10, 175-pounder had a modest impact on offense, catching 32 balls for 341 yards and three touchdowns. On special teams, though, he was a superstar. Using his speed, patience and sharp cuts, Switzer tied a single-season NCAA record with five punt returns for touchdowns. With punters determined to keep the ball out of Switzer's hands, it'll be up to the coaching staff to feed the sophomore more liberally on offense this season.

4. QB Marquise Williams, Jr.
How talented is Carolina behind center? Williams was one of the ACC's hottest quarterbacks late last year, yet he's still duking it out with precocious redshirt freshman Mitch Trubisky. Williams was outstanding after Bryn Renner was lost to an injury, guiding the Heels to four wins in five starts, including a bowl blowout of Cincinnati. The 6-2, 215-pound dual-threat completed 126-of-217 passes for 1,698 yards, 15 touchdowns and six picks, adding a team-high 536 yards and six touchdowns on the ground. Williams, though, needs to improve his accuracy through the air to hold off Trubisky.

5. LB Travis Hughes, Sr.
With a breakthrough season in 2013, Hughes began to show glimpses of his enormous potential in Chapel Hill. Despite missing a game, he racked up a career-high 76 tackles, 5.5 stops behind the line and five quarterback hurries. From the weakside, the 6-2, 225-pound catalyst plays the game fast and ferociously. Hughes is the type of weapon that can be turned loose on blitzes or dropped back to cover tight ends and receivers. Now that the foundation is down, the staff expects a lot more big plays out of No. 9.

6. S Tim Scott, Sr.
After starting at cornerback the past two seasons, Scott will spend his final year at safety. The emergence of young corners Brian Walker and Desmond Lawrence makes it possible for Scott to shift roles without the pass defense suffering. The 5-11, 190-pound Scott has terrific ball skills to go along with the instincts to sniff out running plays. He had 49 tackles a year ago to go along with two picks and five passes defended, as quarterbacks frequently avoided his side of the field.

7. OG Landon Turner, Jr.
LT James Hurst graduated. C Russell Bodine surprisingly left early for the NFL. Turner is suddenly the veteran of the offensive line. He started 17 games over the last two seasons, including all 13 at right guard a year ago. The blue-chip recruit from the 2011 class has emerged into a 6-4, 320-pound road-grader, especially on north-south running plays. If Turner continues to improve his footwork and his pass protection, he'll join Hurst and Bodine in the pros within the next two years.

8. RB/KR T.J. Logan, Soph.
At one of the deepest positions on the roster, Logan has spent this offseason trying to become the team's feature back. As a rookie, he was the quintessential all-purpose back, providing a spark as a runner, receiver and return man. The exciting 5-10, 180-pound cutback runner led all backs with 533 yards and four scores on just 93 carries, caught 10 passes for 124 yards and returned two kicks for touchdowns. Logan delivered a smashing debut as a playmaker, despite not playing a single down in the first four games. Still, he may have to share carries in a backfield flush with diverse options.

9. LB Jeff Schoettmer, Jr.
As defensive surprises go, Schoettmer was one of Carolina's biggest of 2013. A one-time walk-on, he rose to the top of the depth at middle linebacker, finishing second on the team with 85 tackles. The 6-1, 220-pounder from Dallas won't wow anyone with his measurables. Instead, Schoettmer supports the run defense by quickly filling lanes and wrapping up in the open field. He's a blue-collar, high-motor performer, who'll always give the Heels maximum effort.

10. P Tommy Hibbard, Sr.
In Hibbard, the Tar Heels will have access to one of the ACC's best punters for one final year. The former walk-on has manned the position in Chapel Hill for the last three seasons, earning Second Team All-ACC in 2012 and honorable mention All-ACC a year ago. In 2013, he averaged 42.9 yards, with 22 of his 61 punts being down inside the opponents' 20-yard line. When Hibbard is pinning the other guys deep in their own territory, he becomes a secret weapon the Carolina D.

- 2014 North Carolina Preview