I wrote about North Carolina before the 2014 season and I really thought they were an up and coming football team that season. I was wrong, but only by one season.
Their defense in 2014 turned out to be one of the very worst in the entire country.
The main reason I picked North Carolina before last season is that I have much respect for their head coach, Larry Fedora. The Tar Heels hired Fedora away from Southern Mississippi after his team won the
Conference USA title in the 2011 season.
At Southern Mississippi, Fedora led his team to a 34-19 record finalized with a 12-2 record in 2011.
When he moved to North Carolina his team managed an 8-4 record his first season and then backing up somewhat with a not so great 7-6 record. Going into last season, nobody had any idea just how bad the Tar Heel defense was going to be, including this blogger.
With returning starter at Quarterback Marquise Williams, their offense scored a lot of points, but the defense gave up 50 points twice to both Notre Dame and to Clemson and they gave up 70 points to East Carolina. They ended the season with another poor defensive performance in a 21 to 40 loss to Rutgers in the Quick Lane Bowl.
Larry Fedora deserves credit for bringing in former Auburn head coach Gene Chizek as his Defensive Coordinator. Chizek was a Defensive Coordinator at Auburn before moving on to Texas where he helped the Texas Longhorns win the 2005 national championship. He went back to Auburn by way of Iowa State and his Auburn team won the national title with Cam Newton at Quarterback.
North Carolina does not have the best defense in the nation this season, but they are much improved. Almost anything would have been an improvement over last season.
The Tar Heels lost in game one to a really average South Carolina team and many blew them off again. Of course, many blew off Alabama after they lost to Ole Miss, too. Or, Stanford
after they lost to Northwestern.
But, the Tar Heels of North Carolina went on a roll after that disaster of a game and they have won 8 straight games.
They still have tough games remaining with Miami, Virginia Tech and North Carolina State and they could lose any of those games, or even all of those.
With three Conference games remaining, North Carolina has a one game lead over Pittsburgh, and a 2 game lead over Miami and Duke. They are in control of their own destiny and should they win out, they will likely face Clemson in the ACC Championship game.
If that were to happen, it would not be a good idea for Clemson to overlook the North Carolina Tar Heels.
This past weekend, North Carolina may have removed all doubt their legitimacy with a 66 – 31 stomping over rival Duke. The Blue Devil fans are probably saying bring on basketball after the beating they took by their most hated opponent.
North Carolina Quarterback Marquis Williams threw for 405 yards in the first half alone against Duke. He finished with a North Carolina passing record of 494 passing yards in a single game.
Williams has thrown for just over 2,100 yards on the season.
Williams has any number of great Wide Receivers to throw the ball to in Quinshad Davis, Ryan Switzer, Bug Howard and Mack Hollins.
Two years ago, the Tar Heels signed the North Carolina High School player of the year Elijah Hood and he played last year as a true freshman. He didn’t do a lot in his first year of college football, but he is having an All Conference type season and will easily eclipse the thousand yard barrier.
Hood is a another one of those power runners at 6-0, 220 with speed and he’s got a bright future.
Another scary thing for North Carolina opponents is that they returned every starter in their Offensive Line led by outstanding 325 pound Offensive Guard Landon Turner.
This offense can be dangerous, and now North Carolina has a defense to almost match. Sophomore Defensive Back Donnie Miles from Miami Florida is the team’s leading tackler. But, he is followed by senior Linebackers Shakeel Rashad, another Floridian, and Jeff Schoettmer from Dallas, Texas. The defense has allowed 31 points twice, in wins over Georgia Tech and Duke. The rest of their games, the Tar Heels defense has allowed very few points even in the game that they lost to South Carolina.
The media keeps pushing certain programs and there is a lot of football left to be played. All that talk is a waste of time if somebody like North Carolina comes along and beats one of the Playoff contenders.