2010 overall record: 8-5
2010 conference record: 4-4
Offense: 6, defense: 6, punter/kicker: 2
2010 statistical leaders (* returners)
Rushing: Johnny White (720 yards)
Passing: T.J. Yates (3,418 yds)
Receiving: Dwight Jones* (946 yds)
Tackles: Kevin Reddick* (74)
Sacks: Quinton Coples* (10)
Interceptions: Da'Norris Searcy (4)
1. The offensive line should be the best since Butch Davis arrived in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels had to replace two starters in OT Mike Ingersoll and OG Alan Pelc, but Travis Bond has earned the starting job at right guard and Brennan Williams at right tackle. The left side of the line will be particularly strong with guard Jonathan Cooper (22 career starts), and OT James Hurst. This is also a large group, averaging 319 pounds.
2. There’s depth on the defensive line. There was enough depth this spring to move Coples from tackle back to end, his natural position. The Tar Heels have Paige-Moss at right end, Jordan Nix and Powell at tackle, and junior college transfer Sylvester Williams was pushing Nix for the starting job. Jared McAdoo has played both positions, and the staff has four tackles it feels good about.
3. Bryn Renner has taken over. Heading into the spring, Davis wouldn’t anoint Renner his 2011 starter just yet. Now, there’s no question it’s Renner’s job, as none of the other candidates came close to him this spring. True freshman Marquise Williams went through a major learning curve, and A.J. Blue and Braden Hanson didn’t close the gap.
1. Looking for a linebacker. Outside linebacker Zach Brown and middle linebacker Kevin Reddick have starting jobs locked up, but Herman Davidson and Darius Lipford will take their competition into summer camp.
2. Helping hands at tight end. Last year, 79 of the receptions were to tight ends, and Ryan Taylor and Zack Pianalto were two of the top three receivers on the team (combined for 66 catches last year). The staff recruited well at the position, but those players didn’t enroll early. Nelson Hurst, Christian Wilson and Sean Fitzpatrick were the lead candidates this spring.
3. Revamped secondary. All four starters must be replaced, but Jabari Price started the final four games at corner last season. There are six candidates for the safety positions, but Brown, Jonathan Smith and Brian Gupton all missed last season because of the NCAA investigation. Senior Matt Merletti emerged as a leader last year, safety Gene Robinson is in the mix, and safety Josh Hunter had a good spring game with six tackles and an interception. Tre Boston moved from corner to safety.