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North Carolina Preview 2006 Further Analysis
North Carolina Tar Heels
Posted Jul 31, 2006

North Carolina Tar Heels Preview 2006 - Further Analysis

1st and Ten – The Dailey Show – Since we last saw Joe Dailey, he was leaving the plains of Nebraska as the bane of many Nebraska Cornhusker fan’s existences.  For all of the troubles that Nebraska encountered in Dailey’s one year as the starter 2004, he was the crux of much of the problem, or so thought many Nebraska fans.  Now, Dailey had a hard time living up to his end of the bargain, throwing 19 interceptions during that season, but this was a kid who was thrown the West Coast offense and told to make it go.  Suffice it to say, the fit in Lincoln wasn’t quite right so the youngster from New Jersey looked around and found a better, and perhaps more laid back home in Chapel Hill.  Now, that isn’t to mean that if Dailey doesn’t get it done he won’t take some heat (see Ron Curry circa 1998 – 2001), but the pressure cooker will be much different for the former Husker.  Although he has to lock down the starting spot before we go any further, he is probably the best ‘option’ at QB this fall (forgive the QB pun).  New offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti has any number of things that he’ll be able to do with Dailey, who is a stark contrast to any of Cignetti’s QBs at Fresno State for the most part.  Dailey has good speed and quickness, but the irony of his time at Nebraska was that he was able to ‘test’ his throwing skills more than he might have anywhere else.  In this conference, though, he’s going to be put to the test, and he must prove that he can be a pass/run dual threat throughout the season.  His inconsistencies at Nebraska should be, and probably are behind him, but if used properly, he could be a smaller version of Darian Durant.  Keep an eye out for the Dailey Show coming to an ACC park near you.

2nd and Seven – Not 2001…nor is it 2002 or 2003 – When it comes to having talent on a defensive line, look no further than the unit that took the field at Kenan Stadium in 2001.  That line featured first round selection Ryan Sims and perhaps the best defensive player on the planet Julius Peppers.  However, after their departure, the defense, and in particular, the defensive line struggled mightily.  Teams picked up chunks of yardage and the linemen were on skates much of those two years.  Well, the 2006 version isn’t nearly as talented as the 2001 group (but then again, who would be?), but Kyndraus Guy and company have come a long way from years one and two AJ – after Julius.  The Heels DL is much quicker and is much more aggressive under defensive coordinator Marvin Sanders.  Guy, Brian Rackley, Shelton Bynum, Kentwan Balmer and others have become a solid foundation for a defense that finished 42nd in the nation in total defense last year.  Considering they were in the triple digits a few years ago, the emergence of this defensive line has meant everything to the Heels defensive crew.

3rd and Three – Many Happy Returns – As a true freshman walk-on, there probably wasn’t a great deal expected from Brandon Tate from Cummings High in Burlington, NC (hey, a Burlington shout out, how about that?).  But, once the season began it was hard to keep the ball out of Tate’s hands and harder still for teams to keep him out of the end zone.  He became one of the best returners in the ACC, along with Willie Reid from Florida State, and finished the season as the number two kick returner in the ACC.  A guy with his explosive skills has to be able to find some time on offense, and that PT will come in due time.  However, on special teams, the Heels can turn a game completely around with Tate returning kicks.

4th and One – Mc’s Back – When you watch Ronnie McGill run with the football, you can’t help but cower in fear.  No, he’s not coming after you on the couch or going after you in the stands, but you fear for the tacklers that have to make the decision of whether to tackle him or join you on the bench (or at the hospital).  The powerful back out of Clover, South Carolina is all of 220 pounds and he’s looking to put that 220 pounds right through you every time he carries the ball.  After sitting out most of the first half of the season with a torn pectoral muscle, McGill got back into the starting lineup and finished the season as the team’s leading rusher.  He must stay healthy, no question, but if he does, Dailey has a horse to lean on at least 25 to 28 times a game.  Get ready, folks – Big Mc’s ready to roll in 2006.

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