2. KEYS TO THE SEASON
Biggest Key To The North Carolina Offense
Score … duh. There’s going to be a good running game again, and the passing game will come around as soon as the starting quarterback emerges, but no matter how it happens, the team needs to put the biscuit in the basket.
It’s not like the offense couldn’t move the ball. It couldn’t convert on fourth downs, and there were a few blow-up moments for an attack that came up with yards in chunks, but sputtered too often in the red zone and couldn’t make up for a porous defense.
In the 11 games, UNC scored 21 points or fewer five times, and had the same problem with a run of 21 or fewer 12 times over a 16 game span over 2017 to 2018. The scoring picked up late in the season as the offense finally started to close out drives, but again, it wasn’t enough to overcome the defensive issues.
Biggest Key To The North Carolina Defense
Stop other teams from scoring … duh. Out of the 23 teams that allowed more points per game than the Tar Heels did, just two – Hawaii and Houston – went bowling.
Under the new coaching staff, the mindset has to change. After years and years of winning because of the offense, the D that allowed 33 points or more seven times in 11 games – and 13 times in the last 23 – needs to start pulling its weight.
It starts with coming up with more third down stops to get off the field, and it continues with being able to come up with more takeaways, and stopping the run once in a while matters.
The pass rush will be there with a promising group of linemen, and there’s experience in the back seven. But to go from allowing 34.5 points per game to a middle-of-the-pack 27ish a game will make a massive difference.
Key Player To A Successful Season
WR Dazz Newsome, Jr.
The key player is actually the starting quarterback, but with three good options – and Sam Howell the most talented of the lot – it’ll be okay. They all have veteran targets to throw to, but they have to be more explosive.
Want to start scoring more? Want to start winning more shootouts? The passing game that was second-to-last in the ACC in yards per completion has to improve after averaging just 11.2 yards per throw.
Newsome led the team with 44 catches, but he only gained 506 yards with two scores. Very quick, very dangerous, and good enough to be one of the nation’s top punt returners, he’s got the tools. Now he has to use them to make bigger things happen.
Key Game To The North Carolina Season
at Wake Forest, Sept. 12
Talent-wise, this is North Carolina punching at its own weight. The Tar Heels have the experience and the potential to win games like this on the road, and it’ll be a must to take down the interdivisional game, or else.
UNC will be better, but it’ll probably lose to South Carolina to kick things off. Miami, Clemson, at Georgia Tech, at Virginia Tech. That’s what’s coming up after playing the Demon Deacons, along with a very, very, very scary game against Appalachian State.
It’s been more of a fight of a battle than you might think. UNC won the last matchup 50-14 in 2015, but the series is 6-6 in the last 12 going back to 1998.
– North Carolina Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
2018 North Carolina Fun Stats
– Sacks: North Carolina 32 for 207 yards – Opponents 10 for 69 yards
– 3rd Down Conversions: Opponents 71-for-162 (44%) – North Carolina 58-for-168 (34.5%)
– Time of Possession: Opponents 31:44 – North Carolina 28:16