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Friday, August 1, 2008
Three questions for North Carolina

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

1. Can T.J. Yates bounce back from last season's injury and flourish in the second season of Butch Davis' offense?

Considering the Tar Heels return 99.5 percent of their output at running back and 98.6 percent of their receiving yards, it would seem as if all Yates has to do is manage the offense without turning the ball over. He should be capable of more with a healthy shoulder, but missed all of spring practice after surgery. Yates set a single-season school record in 2007 with 2,655 passing yards but wasn't as efficient toward the end of the season because of a small tear in his throwing shoulder.

2. How much drop-off will there be after the loss of defensive standouts Kentwan Balmer, Durell Mapp and Hilee Taylor?

Despite the loss of Taylor and Balmer, UNC's strength on defense should still be its front four. Marvin Austin, Cam Thomas, E.J. Wilson and Aleric Mullins all have had significant playing time. It will be more difficult to replace Mapp, the team's leading tackler, at linebacker. Sophomores Bruce Carter and Quan Sturdivant both played in all 12 games last year and had five starts.

3. Who will replace four-year starter and career field goal leader Connor Barth?

Redshirt freshman Jay Wooten appears to be the frontrunner, but he's got some competition from several walk-on players, including Barth's little brother, Casey, who is a freshman.