2017 Prespring Rankings: No. 30 North Carolina Tar Heels
The 2017 prespring college football rankings, taking the first look at the North Carolina Tar Heels
No. 30: North Carolina Tar Heels
North Carolina Tar Heels Prespring Status
There wasn’t a trip to the ACC Championship like 2015, and losing three of the last four games hurt – especially considering the rise of Mitch Trubisky into an NFL franchise-caliber quarterback – but those last three losses were all winnable. The defense wasn’t a disaster, but it wasn’t great – the team seemed to miss out on too many opportunities.
Trubisky is gone early, along with RB Elijah Hood for an offense that has to replace six starters in all. The defense that made a few nice strides loses Nazair Jones on the defensive interior and has to replace two key defensive backs, but only loses four starters.
North Carolina Tar Heels Biggest Issue
The passing game has to find another great quarterback. How was North Carolina going to replace Marquise Williams? It upgraded with Trubisky – at least in terms of pro talent – but now the Tar Heels have to try doing it again, with backup Nathan Elliott leading a list of possible replacement options. Making matters harder, Ryan Switzer and – if including the running backs – five of the top seven receivers have to be replaced. The running game not only loses Hood, but the top four ground gainers are gone, too.
North Carolina Tar Heels Biggest Positive
The defense has its share of talent returning. It needs to be far better against the run, and it has to replace CB Desmond Lawrence and S Dominque Green from the secondary, but it’s a good-looking group overall – potentially. The entire linebacking corps returns led by the team’s top two tacklers – Cole Holcomb and Andre Smith – while S Donnie Miles and CB M.J. Stewart are two good hitters in the secondary. There’s plenty to work with.
Really, Why Are The North Carolina Tar Heels Ranked Here?
Let’s just assume head coach Larry Fedora will figure out how to get the offense going. The O might take a step back, but the D could take a step up – at least that’s the hope. Each of the losses last year seemed to have a specific issue – weather against Virginia Tech, run D against Georgia, etc. – but this time around, UNC has to be more consistent. In a positive way, there might not be too many expectations – these Tar Heels could and should surprise.