3 Reasons Why UNC Will Soar
1- The no-name linebackers will provide excellent copy all season as senior Malcolm Stewart does a David Thornton impersonation, Doug Justice will be the freshman of the year in the ACC, Clarence Gaddy lives up to expectations and the others - which will include a true freshman – supply solid contributions.
Odds this will happen: Although it is unlikely that everything will come together for the LBs, one or two players may play at a high level, making the unit decent.
2- The defensive line, led by underrated tackle Will Chapman, will approach last year's front four by late September. According to offensive tackle Jeb Terry, this unit is quicker. And the excitement both Terry, his mates, and Coach John Bunting have for Jocques Dumas has raised this scribe's expectations in the red shirt sophomore end.
Odds this will happen: They won't likely be as stingy in short yardage situations, but this bunch may be an improvement laterally and could offer some interesting pass rushes.
3- C.J. Stephens beats out Darian Durant by mid-September, if not sooner, and puts up some huge numbers. With those Florida roots - both in being from the state and learning as a Gator for two years - he could be what Chris Keldorf, Mike Thomas and Mark Maye were – combined – and more.
Odds this will happen: It wouldn't be a surprise to see him put up excellent numbers, possibly even UNC single-season records numbers, but to place such pressure on Stephens before he even wins the job would be unfair.
3 Reasons Why UNC Will Struggle
1- The lack of experience and depth at linebacker could contribute to some early losses, both narrow (see Miami, OH and Syracuse) and by large margins (see Texas and Georgia Tech) in the Tar Heels' first four games. An 0-4 start with this club will be significantly more difficult to overcome than last year's 0-3 beginning.
Odds this will happen: It won't be this bad. Stewart is a proven athlete and has Thornton-like assets. Justice will get better each week and the coaching staff should have this unit in situations to mask some of its weaknesses.
2- The battle for the starting quarterback job between Stephens and Durant could divide the team. Their teammates clearly have the respect and confidence in both players, but relationships usually cause such strife, not ability perceptions.
Odds this will happen: Unlikely. Both QBs appear to get along and have said all the right things about each other and regarding their battle. With Bunting in charge, the Heels will stay focused and probably not let personal issues affect their play.
3- Some key injuries at a few positions could be devastating, but wide receiver is one currently comfortable situation that could derail if Sam Aiken and Chesley Borders go down. Carolina would then be forced to burn a couple of redshirts just to field some decent talent on the depth chart. This would also put too much pressure on running game that must find its strength.
Odds this will happen: It could, especially if Aiken and Borders are asked to carry too much of the load. The receivers should be solid at the very worst, with the potential of being excellent, provided they remain healthy.
This Week's Question
What area of the Tar Heels not often mentioned by the media or fans most concerns you? Also, who will be the team's biggest surprise player?
There was no question last week.
Andrew Jones is in his seventh year covering football and basketball for Inside Carolina. He is also entering his fifth year as a copy editor and staff writer for the Wilmington Star-News and hosts a late afternoon radio show on ESPN Radio, WMFD AM630 in Wilmington. He has also written for ACCNews and once published The College Game and the former Total Sports. He can be reached via e-mail at: AndrewJones@AM630.net.