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Monday, June 29, 2009
Hope and Concern: North Carolina

By staff

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Biggest reason for hope -- Defensive front-seven

The Tar Heels return all four starters on the defensive line and have excellent depth, so defensive line coach John Blake should be excited. Defensive tackle Marvin Austin, now a junior, is one of those recruits who lived up to the hype and he tied with E.J. Wilson for the most tackles (38) by a Carolina defensive lineman. Robert Quinn became a starter in the second game of the season, and massive defensive tackle Cam Thomas (6 foot 3, 330), finished the season with 34 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and one sack. Those guys, combined with standout linebackers Bruce Carter, Quan Sturdivant and Zach Brown, should give UNC one of the best defensive fronts in the ACC.

Biggest reason for concern -- Wide receivers

This one is a no-brainer. UNC has to rebuild its entire receiving corps, as the Tar Heels lost players that accounted for 17 of their 21 receiving touchdowns in 2008. The only player who returns with any significant playing experience is Greg Little, who moved from running back midway through the season and had just 11 catches. Little is now the veteran of the group, and is one of the most talented athletes on the roster. He'll have to help usher Dwight Jones, Todd Harrelson, Joshua Adams and Rashad Mason along. The inexperience here will force everyone to be even more precise with the timing of patterns and routes, and the yards-after-catch stat is likely to decrease until the comfort zone increases. It will also test quarterback T.J. Yates' accuracy, as he'll need to hit these young players in the numbers.