North Carolina 2006 Preview
Once again, North Carolina will be above-average, but can everything come together to finally be more of an ACC player?
The basketball school has always been average at football with
enough good wins here and there, despite killer schedule after
killer schedule, to be decent after a rough two-season stretch
winning five games in 2002 and 2003 under head coach John Bunting.
Now the Tar Heels have to show they can do more
The biggest problem under Bunting has been to put everything
together. The offense was fantastic in 2004, but the defense
couldn't stop anyone. The defense made a huge improvement last
season, but scoring points was like pulling teeth.
This year's team should even out on both sides with the
defense taking a little but of a slide, but not much of one, while
the offense should be better than 105th in the nation in scoring and
103rd in total offense despite having only five starters returning.
Head coach: John Bunting
6th year: 24-36
11th year overall: 62-50-2
Off. 14, Def. 20, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 33
Best Tar Heel Players
1. LB Larry Edwards, Sr.
2. RB Ronnie McGill, Sr.
3. WR Jesse Holley, Sr.
4. FS Kareen Taylor, Sr.
5. SS Trimane Goddard, Soph.
6. DT Kyndraus Guy, Jr.
7. TE Jon Hamlett, Sr.
8. RB Barrington Edwards, Jr.
9. LT Brian Chacos, Sr.
10. OG Charlston Gray, Jr.
at Notre Dame
2005 Record: 5-6
Preview 2005 predicted wins
at Georgia Tech L 27-21
Wisconsin L 16-5
NC State W 31-24
Utah W 31-17
at Louisville L 69-14
at Miami L 34-16
Boston College W 16-14
L 33-30 OT
at Virginia Tech L 30-3
The key to the team's success will be the steady play of the running
backs. Ronnie McGill and Barrington Edwards form a tremendous 1-2 punch,
but they have to prove they can be on the field for a full season. They
have to carry the offense until the quarterback situation irons itself
out. Nebraska transfer Joe Dailey and redshirt freshman Cam Sexton add
far more mobility than Matt Baker did last year, and now they need to
prove they can be consistent passers.
The no-name defense should be more than fine if it can come up with a
steady pass rusher to replace Tommy Davis and a playmaking corner to
take over for Cedrick Holt. The UNC aggressive style of defense brings
pressure from several areas with enough athleticism in the front seven
to get into the backfield on a consistent basis, and the corners will be
there to prevent too many big plays. Safeties Trimane Goddard and Kareen
Taylor are excellent cornerstones to work around.
Yes, UNC should be solid again, but it has been solid over the last few
seasons. Schedules have been the issue.
Nine of UNC's 11 games in 2005 were against bowl bound teams, and nine
of this year's games are against teams that went to bowl games. Part of
it is playing in the ACC, but part of it is the lack of many cupcakes in
the non-conference schedule. Fine, there's a breather against Furman,
but there are also games against Notre Dame, Rutgers and South Florida.
That's not completely taking it easy like it probably should do to get
to a bowl game.
Yes, the Tar Heels are just good enough to come up with a win or two it
shouldn't, and just average enough to get blasted here and there like it
did last year against Louisville and Virginia Tech. The coaching staff
has done a good job, even if the record hasn't always shown it, and the
players are in place to make some noise in the Coastal Division.
Schedule: Furman is the only non-bowl team from last season on the
schedule until the Wake Forest game in late October. There are tough
road trips to Clemson, Miami and Notre Dame, but the Tar Heels are good
enough to win at Virginia and Duke. Rutgers and South Florida have to be
must home-wins from the non-conference schedule, and there can't be
slips in Kenan Stadium against Wake Forest or NC State.
Offensive Player: Senior RB Ronnie McGill. Talent isn't a problem
with speed to burn in a 5-11, 220-pound frame, but he hasn't been able
to stay on the field with injury issues. Last year he missed half the
season thanks to sheer bad luck tearing a pectoral muscle while lifting
weights. If he can last a full twelve games, he should be a lock for
Defensive Player: Senior LB Larry Edwards. Able to play inside or
out and produce, the 230-pound senior is productive no matter where he
plays. He's great at getting into the backfield able to be used like
another defensive end because of his strength.
to a successful season: Junior QB Joe Dailey and/or redshirt
freshman QB Cam Sexton. North Carolina has its third starting
quarterback in three seasons needing more production and more pop after
finishing ninth in the ACC in passing efficiency. Both Dailey and Sexton
are mobile, but the key will be to keep the offense moving after the
offense only converted 35% on third downs.
will be a success if ... North Carolina gets back to a bowl game. This isn't a good
enough team to win the Coastal Division, but there's enough experience
to come up with a winning season and get a 13th game. While Bunting and
his staff have done a decent job, a fifth straight non-winning season
might bring a coaching change.
Sept. 9 vs. Virginia Tech. The Tar Heels haven't beaten the Hokies
since 1997. Fine, so the two have only played twice since the 42-3 Gator
Bowl drubbing, but it might be a must-win situation for North Carolina
in the ACC opener with the next three conference games at Clemson, at
Miami and at Virginia.
The Last Time North
- Second half scoring: Opponents 163 - North Carolina 81
- Yards per carry: Opponents 3.5 - North Carolina 2.8
- Fielded fair catches: Opponents 14 - North Carolina 3
…played in a bowl game…2004 (Continental Tire Bowl vs. Boston College)
…missed a bowl game…2005
…pitched a shutout…1999 (Duke)
…was shutout…2004 (Louisville)
…scored 50 points…2001 (Duke)
…won a conference title…1980 (ACC)
…had a 3,000-yard passer…never
…had a 1,000-yard rusher…1997 (Jonathan Linton)
…had a 1,000-yard receiver…never
…had a first-round draft choice…2002 (DE Julius Pepeprs and Ryan Sims)