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2018

North Carolina

College Football

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North Carolina was a mess last season and if a repeat happens, there could be a change in the program. The Tar Heels finished with just one ACC win and were 3-9 overall after failing to win at home against Cal in the opener. With questions remaining throughout the entire team, it’s unknown how they’ll perform, even with a favorable schedule. The Heels aren’t expected to be good, but at least had the third-best spring odds to win the Coastal Division and had +50000 odds to win the National Championship at 5Dimes Sportsbook.

The Heels have to improve on both sides of the ball and to be more consistent offensively, they’ll need to find a starting quarterback. Chazz Surratt and Nathan Elliott split time last year with neither standing out, although Surratt had better overall numbers with one more yard per attempt (7.3 to 6.3). With the spring game taking place in private, there’s also little information to grab in that aspect. It’s likely the two will be fighting for time once again going into the fall. Unfortunately, things may not get better for the offense unless one of the QBs steps up. The line loses four starters from a group that wasn’t good to begin with. It’s the same situation at the skill positions even with top running backs Jordon Brown (613 yards) and Michael Carter (559 yards) returning. Both could struggle to find room behind a subpar line. At receiver, Anthony Ratliff-Williams (630 yards, 6 TDs) and Brandon Fritts (177 yards) have to do most of the heavy lifting unless someone else steps up (like Dazz Newsome) to replace two former starters.

It doesn’t get better on the defensive side from a group that gave up 213 rushing yards and 31.3 points per game. While eight starters return, Larry Fedora defenses have never been good so hoping this group can turn elite would be a mistake. Everyone in the front seven is back so it’s time for them to make a difference with Malik Carney and Tomon Fox on the ends to go with linebacker Cole Holcomb, who is back after an injury-riddled 2017. The secondary lost its top corner, but shouldn’t take a step back with top safeties Myles Dorn and J.K. Britt still there. 

The hope for the Tar Heels will be to reach a bowl game and that starts by winning at least three non-conference games. That means going to Cal and upsetting them like the Golden Bears did to them in 2017. They’ll also have to upend UCF, which won’t be an easy task even with Scott Frost gone from the Knights. Their ACC odds are decent because almost all of their games are winnable. The toughest ones on the slate will be at Miami and at home against Virginia Tech. Otherwise, the Heels have a chance to win every other game with a favorable Atlantic draw. If there’s no improvement and the offensive line gets worse, it could be another lost season. But if quarterback gets settled and the defense takes a jump due to experience, UNC has enough to bounce back to a six or seven-win season.

 

2018 North Carolina Tar Heels Football Schedule

Sept. 1 at California

Sept. 8 at East Carolina

Sept. 15 vs. UCF

Sept. 22 vs. Pittsburgh

Sept. 27 at Miami

Oct. 13 vs. Virginia Tech

Oct. 20 at Syracuse

Oct. 27 at Virginia

Nov. 3 vs. Georgia Tech

Nov. 10 at Duke

Nov. 17 vs. Western Carolina

Nov. 24 vs. NC State

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