Trent’s Bold Predictions
1. Fedora will try a dual quarterback system
Although Fedora has never completely committed to running two quarterbacks, he has shown a tendency to be pretty flexible on pulling his starter and throwing in the young guys.
In the 2015 season, Sophomore backup quarterback, and soon to be NFL Draft star, Mitch Trubisky played the entire second half of UNC’s game against Delaware. Starting qb Marquise Williams was having a rough game, going 6/12 for only 65 yards and the Tar Heels were only up by 6 at halftime, so Fedora decided to give Trubisky a shot. As you’ll see in the video, the plan worked, as Trubisky went for 312 yards and 4 touchdowns on only 20 attempts.
Obviously there is no way to tell if Brandon Harris, Nathan Elliot, and the other 2017 quarterbacks are of the caliber that Williams and Trubisky were. However, it is probably in Fedora’s best interest to try a system playing multiple quarterbacks on equal snaps for the first few games. California and Old Dominion should provide solid opportunities for this.
2. UNC will be a defensively-led team
It’s no secret that the UNC defense hasn’t exactly been top notch in recent years. In 2016, the Tar Heels gave up an average of 24.9 points per game and 2015 wasn’t much better at 24.5 points per game. To make matters worse, they seem to tire out and play worse at the end of the season. In the last 3 games of the season, the Tar Heel defense gave up 46.3 points per game in 2015 and 31.3 in 2016.
Upon the resignation of UNC’s defensive coordinator Gene Chizik, UNC promoted linebacker coach John Papuchis who formerly headed the defense at Wisconsin. In his 3 years at Wisconsin, the Cornhuskers went 10-4, 9-4, 9-4 and this proven success can be seen as a positive for Tar Heel fans. Papuchis has a background of winning and has spent a few years with the UNC program, so there will be no worries of implementing a new face for the players.
Carolina’s defensive line will be young, but they can look forward to junior defensive end Dajuan Drennon tearing up backfields all season long. The program will be returning 6 upperclassmen linebackers, as well as the highly touted sophomore Andre Smith who recorded 194 tackles in his freshman season.
The Defensive Backs will be mostly young as well, but have a few solid returnees to lead by example. MJ Stewart, who recorded 2 forced fumbles last year and as many as 13 tackles in one game, will be the shining star returnee of the cornerbacks. At safety, UNC has junior Donnie Miles and senior Dominique Green, who recorded the Tar Heels first interception of 2016 and scored a touchdown on it.
In a time when so much is uncertain for the offense, the defense will have to step up and provide a foundation for the team to build on. It’s not going to be easy, but this is when a mold of defensive success can be made.
3. The Tar Heels will WIN a bowl game
Honesty hour… it’s been a rough time for UNC football in bowl games. Sometimes it’s been a struggle to get there, most of the time it’s been a struggle to win once we’re there. But hey, remember that Tennessee game?
But in all seriousness, it’s time for the Tar Heels to win a bowl game. It’s been since 2013 and everyone is ready for some postseason success. Given the 2017 schedule, it is a clear shot that UNC can make a bowl game. Predictions for the Tar Heels have them going anywhere from 6-6 to 8-4, right in the range of lower level bowl games.
It would it be nice to win 10 games this season and win the coastal division. However, fans know and respect the times when it seems like a rebuilding period, especially with such big named recruits coming in next year. The fact of the matter is, no one really knows what’s going to happen this season. If the Tar Heels could just pull out a bowl win, fans would be more than pleased.