2012-13 Football Previews – Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) – North Carolina Tar Heels
After NCAA investigations (gosh, aren’t we getting used to hearing that phrase) cost former coach Butch Davis his job in 2011, defensive co-ordinator Everett Withers took over on an interim basis; he was just keeping the seat warm.
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ACC 2012-13 Football Previews: North Carolina Tar Heels
Coach: Larry Fedora
2011 Record: 7-6
North Carolina Gambling Odds from Sportsbook.com to win BCS: 200/1
ACC Coastal Division – Odds to Win: 5/2
UNC Team Page – Players Stats – Roster – 2012 Schedule –>
In steps new head man Larry Fedora, who has an impressive track record after leading Southern Miss to four straight bowls and a school-record 12 victories last year. Not only that, Fedora is the former offensive mastermind behind the Oklahoma State offense, coaching there from 2005-07 – right when the Cowboys’ attack became explosive.
All this bodes well for UNC, which sorely needs to get direction and someone to harness the considerable talent on the roster, translating it into wins. The Tar Heels look pretty potent in the ACC Coastal division; big boys Florida State and Clemson are in the Atlantic division. Carolina must deal with the perennially tough Virginia Tech, but it should be well-equipped to do that, provided Tar Heels personnel and coaching staff can keep their noses clean.
The Tar Heels have some players that should continue to shine on their way to the professional ranks. Say what you will about Davis, but he did an outstanding job recruiting top-tier talent in the Eastern Seaboard (UNC especially grabbed a lot of players from the Virginia/Maryland/DC area). The team’s strengths in 2012 include RB Giovani Bernard, WR Erik Highsmith, OG Jonathan Cooper on offense and DT Sylvester Williams, LB Kevin Reddick and DE Kareem Martin on defense.
Much will rest on the shoulders of returning starting QB Bryn Renner. The junior will be given the opportunity to shine in Fedora’s offense and, with 3,000+ passing yards and 26 TDs a year ago, Renner must continue to utilize weapons like Highsmith and intriguing athlete Jheranie Boyd (the senior WR averaged 20.9 yards per catch in 2011 – he’s dripping with big-play potential). Having Bernard – last year’s ACC Freshman Player of the Year and a first-team Freshman All-American – is surely a comforting safety valve for Renner, which should make for a diversified attack.
It seems like there has been a Barth kicking at North Carolina for the past decade. Senior Casey Barth handles the duties in 2012; older brother Connor donned the Chapel Hill baby blue before Casey was there. Sophomore Tommy Hibbard returns to do the punting. If the Tar Heels can improve their punt-return unit, they should have a vastly improved overall special teams.
2012-13 North Carolina Football Prediction: 10-3
North Carolina has a cluster of athletes on both sides of the ball that can be impact players, which is cause for optimism in a season where the Tar Heels have a manageable schedule. Carolina avoids Clemson and FSU from the other division; its most intimidating non-con game is at Louisville on Sept. 15.
With talented players on the roster right now and with not very many elite prospects on their way to replenish the stocks, UNC must take advantage of an ACC Coastal division that can be had. The Miami Hurricanes are in a rebuilding phase, Virginia Tech won’t be quite as strong as it normally is and Georgia Tech is a one-trick pony. If Fedora doesn’t turn the win-loss record around this season, it’s likely that the Tar Heels will regress in the near future, as Tech and the ‘Canes reload.
This team has the ability to finish with a double-digit win season, and I think they’ll get there in 2012.
2012 UNC Schedule
9/1/12 12:30 PM ET ELON
9/8/12 3:00 PM ET @WFRST
9/15/12 3:30 PM ET @LOU
9/22/12 TBD ECAR
9/29/12 TBD IDAHO
10/6/12 TBD VATCH
10/13/12 TBD @MIAMI
10/20/12 TBD @DUKE
10/27/12 TBD NCST
11/10/12 TBD GATCH
11/15/12 7:30 PM ET @VIRG
11/24/12 TBD MD