Friday, August 26, 2011
Summer summary: North Carolina
By ESPN.com staff
Snoozing on the Tar Heels? Don’t. They’re strong up front. In case you missed summer camp …
- Everett Withers has officially taken over, and on the field, there haven’t been many drastic changes since the Butch Davis era ended. The offensive line remains the best it has been in about a decade, and on both sides of the ball, there’s not a true weakness up front. There’s also plenty of talented depth behind them.
- In addition to a new coach, the Tar Heels have ushered in first-year starting quarterback Bryn Renner. He has been consistently good this summer, but the question remains how he’ll fare in game situations. He’s a high-energy player who might have to curb his enthusiasm a bit to keep the offense under control. Renner needs to stay healthy and play well, because there’s not a lot of answers behind him.
- The running back situation remains a question, as starter Ryan Houston wore a noncontact jersey all summer because of a fractured scapula he suffered in the spring game, and Giovani Bernard was noncontact about half the time because of a fractured bone in his hand. There is some excitement surrounding Bernard because he has a different style than Houston, but he hasn’t played yet.
- UNC found it has some good, young tight ends in Eric Albright and Jack Tabb , but there are also veterans like Nelson Hurst and Christian Wilson. UNC likes to feature the tight end in its offense, so the player who emerges from that group will be a factor.
- Linebackers Zach Brown and Kevin Reddick have already developed a reputation as strong players, but the staff is still trying to figure out who the third linebacker is. Ebele Okakpu has been in the program for four years, but has the light switch finally come on?
- The biggest questions remain in the secondary, where the one true weakness remains. Charles Brown will miss the season opener because of NCAA issues, and Jabari Price, the other expected starter at cornerback, is out with an injury. Tre Boston moved from safety to cornerback, and the other cornerback is a true freshman, Tim Scott. UNC moved receiver Todd Harrelson to corner and he will help out with the second team, but he hasn’t played the position since high school.
- The return game and special teams struggled last season, with the exception of kicker Casey Barth, and they remain questions because they can’t be practiced live. Game time will determine how much the Tar Heels have improved in these areas.