Last season's record: 8-5
Returning starters/letterwinners: 13/44
Key losses: QB T.J. Yates, FS Deunta Williams, LB Quan Sturdivant
Key returnees: WR Dwight Jones, DE Quinton Coples, LB Kevin Reddick
Best game: Thurs., Nov. 17 at Virginia Tech. If North Carolina has any hopes of winning the ACC’s Coastal Division, the Tar Heels will have to pull the upset in Blacksburg on primetime television. UNC has experience, though, knocking off the Hokies on Thursday night in Blacksburg two years ago on a game-winning Casey Barth field goal as time expired.
Projected finish: 9-4
Outlook: North Carolina enters the 2011 football season in disarray after head coach Butch Davis was fired eight days before the start of training camp. Defensive coordinator Everett Withers has been elevated to interim head coach and retains Davis’s entire staff, so that continuity should help keep the players on track. The Tar Heels have a glaring hole in the secondary with three new starters and sophomore quarterback Bryn Renner has to live up to his preseason hype, but if those two positions are solidified early, North Carolina has the talent to challenge for the ACC Coastal Division crown.