Preview 2018: Previewing and looking ahead to the North Carolina Tar Heels season with what you need to know.
Preview 2018: North Carolina Tar Heels
This is dangerous territory for North Carolina and its direction.
2017 was supposed to be a rebuilding year. No one was expecting anything big, but 3-9? That’s not okay.
Fine, every once in a while a program will have one of those years when the young players have to find their way, and the parts just don’t mesh. But the same concern of last year is the same one going into this season – the schedule just wasn’t/isn’t that bad.
If you’re an ACC team that gets to go two straight years without having to deal with Clemson or Florida State – and not playing the Tigers in the regular season since 2014 – you have to take advantage of the break.
If your non-conference schedule is California, at Old Dominion, Notre Dame and Wester Carolina, and you’re just 2-2 with that, there’s a problem.
If your schedule going into a season is at Cal, at East Carolina, UCF and Western Carolina outside of the ACC, and there’s no Clemson, no Florida State, Virginia Tech and NC State are at home, and three of the conference road trips – blowing off a nasty date at Miami – are to Syracuse, Virginia and Duke, you had better take that down.
But this year’s UNC team might not be quite ready to do that. And in the seventh year under Larry Fedora, that might be a concern for where the program is headed.
Can this be a season that builds toward a potentially big 2019? And there’s the problem, in two years, UNC gets Clemson again, along with road dates at Virginia Tech and NC State. Worse yet, there’s the season-opener against South Carolina.
No, this somehow has to be the season when North Carolina gets back on track.
The concern will be on both lines. The offensive line has to be much, much better after a rough season and despite losing four starters. The defensive front has to be better in the backfield, far stronger against the run, and come up with more production overall.
The D needs to generate more takeaways, the O needs to go on more scoring drives, and it all needs to be done with a still young and relatively unproven group of puzzle pieces that need to fit into the right spots.
Just go bowling again. Get to at least six wins, bounce back from last year, and take advantage of the schedule.