SportsCrack Blog

Monday, August 16, 2010


If there is a big time sleeper in college football this season it might just be the North Carolina Tarheels. The Tarheels have the #1 rated defensive end (Robert Quinn), the #1 rated defensive tackle (Marvin Austin), the #1 rated inside linebacker (Quan Sturdivant), and the #1 rated outside linebacker (Bruce Carter) in the nation according to Phil Steele. Now arguments could be made amongst college football fans that any or none of these guys are really the best in the nation (personally I would take Iowa's Adrian Clayborn over Quinn and also Michigan State's Greg Jones over Sturdivant) but there is no doubt the Tarheels are going to have a sick defense. Their front 7 will all be playing in the NFL.

North Carolina had the best defense in the ACC last year and they do have 19 returning starters. The question though remains how did a team with so much defensive talent who is also led by a coach with the credentials of Butch Davis only finish 4-4 in conference play? Because the offense was anemic. I saw first hand how bad the offense was when the Tarheels played Georgia Tech at the Flats and they only scored 7 points. Georgia Tech's defense was nothing to write home about. And with the uncertain status of their best offensive player in WR Greg Little (ineligible along with Marvin Austin for the Miami agent party) I wouldn't be expecting an offensive explosion from the Tarheels this season.

But can the defense shut out teams? Sure they can. They start off the season with LSU in the Georgia Dome. We should know right away whether North Carolina is a legit ACC contender if they can handle LSU on a neutral field. Their conference opener is two weeks later with Georgia Tech visiting. Tech owned them last year and North Carolina has lost their last 9 conference openers. I have a feeling Paul Johnson is relishing his role as an underdog this season with the Jackets. So right away unless North Carolina brings their A game they could very easily be 0-2 going into a road game with Rutgers.

The defense should be fun to watch all season. There will be plenty of hard hits and helmets flying. But North Carolina is not a legit contender for the National Championship game in my opinion. In fact I think they will have a hard time even winning the Coastal Division with Miami, Virginia Tech, and Georgia Tech all returning experienced quarterbacks who are elusive and can scramble against their blitzing defense.

Prediction: The Hokies win the Coastal Division and the ACC. North Carolina finishes 5-3 in ACC play with losses to either GA Tech, Clemson, Miami, FSU, and Virginia Tech.

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