2015 College Football Preview: North Carolina Tar Heels

Throughout the remaining months until the start of the college football season, I will be highlighting teams that have caught my eye and give my outlook on how I feel they will do this upcoming season. I will be starting off with the North Carolina Tar Heels. Every year, the Tar Heels are predicted to be the winner of the ACC, and every year, it seems they fall well short. Last season, UNC finished the season with a 6-7 record (4-4 in conference). They then were defeated quite soundly by Rutgers in the Quick Lane Bowl. The humiliation continued as not a single player from their team was at the NFL Combine, nor were any of their players drafted. Let’s see how this team is shaping entering the 2015 season.
  1. Sept. 3rd--South Carolina (Neutral game at Charlotte)
  2. Sept. 12th--North Carolina A&T
  3. Sept. 19th--Illinois
  4. Sept. 26th--Delaware
  5. Oct. 3rd--at Georgia Tech
  6. BYE
  7. Oct. 17th--Wake Forest
  8. Oct. 24th--Virginia
  9. Oct. 29th--at Pittsburgh (Thursday)
  10. Nov. 7th--Duke
  11. Nov. 14th--Miami (FL)
  12. Nov. 21st--at Virginia Tech
  13. Nov. 28th--at NC State
Offense: Last season, the rushing game for the Tar Heels wasn’t exactly the best. Senior QB Marquise Williams led the team in rushing with 783 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns. As of now it looks as if RB T.J. Logan will be the main back for UNC this season. He had a below average season with close to 600 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns. In the passing game, Marquise Williams had a great season throwing for over 3,000 yards and a low TD/ INT ratio. The best news for Williams is that WRs Ryan Switzer and Mack Hollins are going to be there to catch passes. The junior receiver Switzer is a consistent pass catcher who is going to be someone to watch heading into next year’s draft. The offensive line is returning with eight players who have experience, and they will, without a doubt, hope to open some better running lanes up and reduce the high sack total they allowed last season (26 sacks). The best news about the O-Line squad is that pretty much all of them have experience on the line, which provides great depth for UNC. It must be a comfortable situation for the Heels, knowing that if one of their big guys goes down, they can replace him and not skip a beat. Defense: The defense for the Heels struggled greatly last season, giving up on average 497.8 yards per game (which ranked 9th worst in the NCAA) and also allowing around 39 points per game. The front seven are going through some changes in the off-season, as DC Gene Chizik is switching from a 4-2-5 defense to a 4-3. This change is causing some position changes for players. Something has to be done to slow down the rushing attack, as UNC gave up on average 240.5 rushing yards per game last year (ranked 120th in the NCAA). In order to get this high average down, they will be relying heavily on a sophomore D-Tackle named Nazair Jones to keep the holes plugged up. Two senior linebackers, Shakeel Rashad and Jeff Schoettmer, also will be providing some great leadership to this defense. The pass protection for UNC was rough the first part of the season, but they improved throughout the season. In their final seven games, they were able to hold each opponent to under 300 yards passing. This season, they have an even more experienced squad and should be more consistent through the whole entire year. 2015 Outlook: Strength of Schedule Rating: 4 out of 10 Schedule wise for the Heels, it is a fairly soft schedule. They avoid the major powerhouses like Clemson, Louisville, and Florida State. The only truly tough games on the schedule are a neutral site game against South Carolina, which will be held in Charlotte, NC, and a road game against Georgia Tech. To me, there are no excuses for a bad season from the Heels. The schedule seems to be pointing in their favor, and their roster has matured greatly from last season. However, I don’t feel they will be conference champs or even the ACC Coastal Division Champs. The Coastal Division is very competitive and there are better teams than UNC. A bowl game should definitely be in their future, and they should probably finish the season with a winning record. Three 2016 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch: #12 QB, Marquise Williams, Senior—6’2”, 220 lbs #3 WR, Ryan Switzer, Junior—5’10”, 180 lbs #10 LB, Jeff Schoettmer, Senior-6’2”, 235 lbs

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