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North Carolina Preview 2006 - Offense
North Carolina Tar Heels
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jul 31, 2006


North Carolina Tar Heels Preview 2006 - UNC Offense

What you need to know ... There are a whole bunch of big, screaming, ifs for an offense that only averaged 316 yards and 18 pounds per game. The big question is at quarterback where Nebraska transfer Joe Dailey and redshirt freshman Cam Sexton will bring more mobility to the position than last year's starter, Matt Baker. The ground game should be a strength of Ronnie McGill and Barrington Edwards can combine to play a full season. Jesse Holley returns after leading the team in receiving, but there's absolutely no experience from any other receiver to count on right away. Depth is a huge issue on the line that'll rely on three starters and two newcomers to the right side. Expect more rushing production early on until all the kinks in the passing game get worked out in new offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti's offense.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Joey Bozich
3-9, 12 yds, 0 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Ronnie McGill
130 carries, 530 yds, 5 TD
Receiving: Jesse Holley
47 catches, 670 yds, 1 TD

Star of the offense: Senior RB Ronnie McGill
Player that has to step up and become a star: Junior QB Joe Dailey and/or redshirt freshman QB Cam Sexton
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore WR Brooks Foster
Best pro prospect: Senior TE Jon Hamlett
Top three all-star candidates: 1) McGill, 2) WR Jesse Holley, 3) Hamlett
Strength of the offense: Running back
Weakness of the offense:
Depth everywhere, proven number two receiver

Quarterbacks
Matt Baker had a strange and inconsistent season, but he was occasionally able to throw for a ton of yards. Unfortunately, the coaching staff failed to do much of anything when it came to developing anyone else and now are starting from ground zero. Former Nebraska starter Joe Dailey and redshirt freshman Cam Sexton are good, mobile options with the potential to come up with some big games, but the offense will have to be ready to live through a ton of mistakes.
The key to the unit: Keep things moving on third downs and keep the mistakes to a minimum. None of the quarterback options are going to throw for 3,000 yards, but 2,000 yards, positive rushing yards, and fewer than ten interceptions would get the job done.
Quarterback Rating: 6

Projected Starter
- Joe Dailey, Jr.
The former Nebraska Cornhusker starter struggled mightily in the first year under head coach Bill Callahan throwing 19 interceptions while completing fewer than half of his passes. Even so, he's the odds on favorite to win the starting job because of his overall experience and his combination of throwing and running abilities. He might not be the most natural passer, but he's great on the move.

Top Backups
- Cam Sexton, RFr. 
A broken ankle set Sexton back last year, but now he's neck-and-neck with Joe Dailey for the starting job. He isn't all that big at 6-1 and 185 pounds, but he's mobile and is a good mechanical passer. Even though he doesn't have a huge arm, he's accurate.

- Joey Bozich, Soph. - 3-9, 33%, 12 yds, 1 INT, 1 carry, 2 yards
Bozich spent last year as the main backup behind Matt Baker getting a few plays in against Louisville and Miami. He's a big, 228-pound passer with a good arm, but he's the number three man in the mix and was moved over to fullback this spring. 

Running Backs
The ground game was one of the least productive in college football mainly because there was no consistency. Barrington Edwards has the talent to be a star, but can he be a 100-yard back game-in-and-game-out? He doesn't have to be this year with Ronnie McGill back ready to finally try to put together a full season. The ground game will be the focal point of the offense until the quarterbacks and the passing game comes around.
The key to the unit: Ronnie McGill and Barrington Edwards have to be on the field for every game. This could potentially be the ACC's best rushing tandem if they can stay healthy.
Running Back Rating: 7.5

Projected Starters
- Ronnie McGill, Sr. - 130 carries, 530 yds, 4.1 ypc, 5 TD, 15 catches, 99 yds, 6.6 ypc
McGill missed the first half of last season recovering from a torn pectoral muscle suffered when lifting weights, but he still became the team's leading rusher, and it wasn't even close. He ripped off 118 yards in the win over Virginia and 146 yards in the win over Duke while scoring five times in the final seven games. He's  the team's best back and a serious threat for 1,200 yards if he can stay healthy. He'll be the workhorse of the offense early on.

- Fullback Nick Starcevic, Soph. - 1 carry, 1 yard, 1 touchdown, 1 catch, 7 yds
The 235-pound power runner saw a little bit of time as a true freshman playing on special teams and scoring a touchdown against Louisville on his only carry of the season. He's a good runner with decent enough hands to be used as a receiver, but his development was hindered this spring after an appendectomy kept him out of spring ball.

Top Backups

- Barrington Edwards, Jr. - 114 carries, 397 yds, 3.5 ypc, 2 TD, 10 catches, 99 yds
Edwards is an experience 230-pound back with power and excellent moves. He started the first five games before getting knocked out of the starting spot by Ronnie McGill and missing the final two games. The former LSU transfer runs with a purpose and surprising quickness. He's good enough to carry the offense if needed.

- Justin Warren, Jr. - 17 carries, 86 yds, 5.1 ypc
The former walk-on will play a key role as both a backup runner and on special teams. He's a slender 6-1 and 192 pounds with decent quickness and a little bit of pop shown by a 31-yard run against Duke. He's not a workhorse and isn't likely to get more than 20 carries in a game unless something major happens.

Receivers
This is a better corps than it'll get credit for early on. Jesse Holley has next level potential if he can prove to add more big plays to his résumé, while tight end Jon Hamlett is a rock-solid safety valve. Brooks Foster is an emerging playmaker on the inside, while Dirk Engram, Brandon Tata and Kenton Thornton have promise with speed and good skills. Yes, there's little to no experience outside of Holley.
The key to the unit: All the tall athletes have to be big producers right away, everyone has to start hanging on to the ball, and Jesse Holley has to do even more as the number one target.
Receiver Rating: 6.5

Projected Starters
- Jesse Holley, Sr. - 47 catches, 670 yds, 14.3 ypc, 1 TD
The team's leading receiver has 89 career catches for 1,294 yards, but only five touchdowns with only one scoring grab last season. He still earned honorable mention All-ACC honors and should be in the mix for more this season if the quarterbacks are steady enough to get him the ball on a consistent basis. He's athletic enough to have been a part of the national title basketball team, and is a physical blocker at 6-3 and 208 pounds.

- Brooks Foster, Soph.
A walk-on on the national title basketball team, athleticism isn't a problem for the 6-3, 200-pound sophomore. He saw a little time last season as a special teamer and didn't catch a pass on offense. That'll change this season getting the first look at the number two job on the other side of Jesse Holley.

- Tight end Jon Hamlett, Sr. - 21 catches, 212 yds, 10.1 ypc, 1 TD
While not an all-star type of tight end, the 260-pound senior does a little of everything well. He was always a decent blocker, and last year he became a more dangerous receiver with a career-high 21 catches for 212 yards and a touchdowns. While not an explosive receiver, he's reliable. 

Top Backups
- Brandon Tate, Soph.
The team's top return man should make some noise as a receiver this year behind Jesse Holley on the outside. He has the deep speed to go along with decent size at 6-1 and 193 pounds to become a dangerous field-stretcher. He averaged 9.2 yards per punt return and 25.8 yards per kickoff returner as a true freshman.
- Kenton Thornton, RFr.
One of the team's most exciting prospects, he's 6-5 and 225 pounds with good deep speed. He plays faster than his size might indicate with a good, kick returner-like cutting ability. He'll start out behind Brooks Foster and will quickly find his way into the rotation.
-
Hakeem Nicks, Fr.
A big, ultra-productive high school player with 20 touchdown grabs his senior season. the 210 pounder is expected to make a big impact from the moment he sets foot on campus. He was one of the team's top recruits.

- Tight end Rock Wells, Jr.
The former walk-on is an athletic backup with a little bit of experience. He's 250 pounds and purely a blocker combining with Richard Quinn for the number two job behind John Hamlett.

Offensive Linemen
It won't be a liability be any means and should look better in pass protection with far more mobile quarterbacks to block for than Matt Baker. Getting more of a push in the ground game won't be a problem if the backfield situation is settled with Ronnie McGill and Barrington Edwards able to play a full season. There's little to no developed depth at any spot and there will be plenty of finger crossing that redshirt freshman guard Kyle Jolly and sophomore  Garrett Reynolds can handle themselves on the right side. Tackle Brian Chacos, guard Charlston Gray and center Ben Lemming are veterans who'll have to play like all-stars.

The key to the unit: Desperately hope several young players can come through while getting All-ACC caliber production out of at least two spots.
Offensive Line Rating: 6

Projected Starters
- OT Brian Chacos, Sr.
Expected to be one of the rocks on the line after getting a sixth year of eligibility, the 301-pound senior with 23 career starts will try to get over off-season shoulder surgery. He's a former tight end who is versatile enough to play either tackle position and be the team's top pass blocker.
- OG Charlston Gray, Jr.
While he didn't exactly build on his all-star freshman season, the 301-pound junior had a good second season. He's experienced with 18 career starter and durable turning into one of the team's best run blockers from the word go, and now he has to grow into the type of dominant anchor the team can always work behind.
- C Ben Lemming, Soph.
One of the most versatile players on the line, the 301-pound sophomore can play either center or tackle. He was an emerging star up front last season before having problems with a shoulder injury suffered right off the bat. The center job is his where he's expected to grow into an all-star.
- OG Kyle Jolly, RFr.
The star recruit of last season is expected to be a key blocker right off the bat at right guard. He's 6-6 and 302 pounds with tackle quickness and great strength. He could move outside if needed.
- OT Garrett Reynolds, Soph.
A top recruit a few years ago, the 6-7, 300-pound sophomore has seen a little bit of playing time in a reserve role. It's time to live up to the prep hype at right tackle where he has the size and the long arms to become a good pass blocker.

Top Backups
- T Andre Barbour, RFr.
Very raw but very promising, the 6-6, 290-pound athlete will get a year of grooming time at right tackle battling with Garrett Barbour for the job. He's coming off a big spring where he turned into one of the top players on the line.
- G Brian Bishop, Soph.
The 330-pound sophomore is the biggest player on the line and should eventually be one of the most physical. He missed last year with a back problem returning this season at left guard.

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NC State Preview 2006 - Defense
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