Year three of the Larry Fedora era in Chapel Hill looks to be a good one as the Tar Heels finished the season last year 6-1 with a 39-17 Belk Bowl win over Cincinnati. The only loss in that stretch was to bitter rival Duke who kicked a field goal with a little over 2 minutes remaining then intercepted quarterback Marquise Williams’ pass with 13 seconds remaining to seal the victory. Williams started the season as the number 2 quarterback behind Bryn Renner who was injured in week 8 against Boston College. The Tar Heel offense seemed to click a little quicker with Williams behind center as he completed 58% of his passes for a shade fewer than 1700 yards with 15 scores through the air, five more than Renner. North Carolina will return their top four wide receivers from a year ago including sophomore Ryan Switzer, the most
dangerous kick returner in America. Switzer took five punt returns to the house in 2013, including a stretch where he returned a kick for a touchdown in three straight games. On defense, North Carolina do lose three of their top four tacklers from 2013 but does return 7 starters and 9 of the top 12 tacklers from 2013.
The 2014 North Carolina schedule has one of the toughest stretches in country between Sept 27th and November 1st: at Clemson, Virginia Tech, at Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, at Virginia and at Miami. The silver lining to the 27th toughest schedule in the country is that the Tar Heels only leave the Carolinas three times all season and if they win the Coastal division, the ACC Championship will be in their back yard; only a 2-hour drive away in Charlotte, North Carolina. In 2013, the Tar Heels only went 2-3 on the road but in 2014 they will have to be better and that will be tough with road games at Clemson, Notre Dame and Miami.
Not many people can argue that North Carolina finished the season in 2013 on a hot streak: 5 conference wins and a bowl win with the backup quarterback. Then they took that momentum and finished with a Top 25 recruiting class according to most recruiting services. This season Head Coach Larry Fedora will reap the benefits of all the hard work that went into building a winning program in Chapel Hill at the same time as an NCAA investigation from the last coaching staff. Just like every season, the Coastal is wide open (three division winners in as many years) and the sky is the limit for North Carolina if they can keep their quarterback healthy keep their record on the road over .500.
Stay logged on to Sowegalive.com for Team #17 on Thursday and tune in to the Southern Football Report every Saturday from 10am-Noon starting on August 23rd! Here is a hint for Team #17: This team can claim that it’s nickname is neither an animal nor plural.
#17 – ??????????
#18 – North Carolina Tar Heels
#19 – Florida Gators
#20 – Texas Longhorns
#21 – Iowa Hawkeyes
#22 – Arizona Wildcats
#23 – Boise State Broncos
#24 – Northwestern Wildcats
#25 – Michigan Wolverines