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Monday, January 28, 2013
2012 report cards: North Carolina

By Andrea Adelson

NORTH CAROLINA

OFFENSE: Larry Fedora brought immediate results to Chapel Hill with his high-flying offense, helped no doubt because of the talent all over his roster. North Carolina was better in every single offensive category in 2012 than it was a year ago, ranking No. 2 in the league in scoring offense (40.6 ppg); No. 2 in total offense (485.6 ypg); No. 3 in rushing offense (193.8 ypg); and No. 4 in passing offense (291.8 ypg). The Tar Heels achieved the type of run-pass balance Fedora wanted because of their stellar players -- Bryn Renner threw for 3,356 yards, 28 touchdowns and just seven interceptions; Giovani Bernard led the ACC with 1,228 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns, despite missing two games with a knee injury; and of course, Jonathan Cooper was a stalwart on the offensive line as he became a unanimous All-American. North Carolina also saw the emergence of freshman receiver Quinshad Davis, who ended the season with three straight 100-yard games -- including a record-tying 16-catch game against Virginia. GRADE: A.

DEFENSE: Things did not go as smoothly on the defensive side of the ball. Now granted, there were some stellar performances: tackle Sylvester Williams emerged as one of the best interior linemen in the league with six sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss. Linebacker Kevin Reddick was terrific again, leading the ACC with 18.5 tackles for loss, and racking up 85 tackles. But overall, this group lacked consistency week to week, alternating between good halves and bad halves. There are several examples, most notably, falling behind 23-9 to Duke, then rallying to take the lead; then failing to hold onto that lead with 3 minutes to go. The winning touchdown pass came on fourth down. Then there was the wild back-and-forth game against Georgia Tech that ended up in a 68-50 loss. The following game against Virginia, the Tar Heels only gave up 13 points. But in the finale, they allowed Maryland to score 31 points on offense -- a team using its fifth-string quarterback. North Carolina ended the season No. 6 in the league in total defense. Average. So goes the grade. GRADE: C.

OVERALL: North Carolina had a very nice season under Fedora, finishing with school records for total offense (5,817 yards) and passing yards (3,501), while Renner set the school record for single-season touchdown passes (28) as the Tar Heels won five ACC games for the first time since 2004. Bernard was one vote away from being selected ACC Player of the Year, after he led the ACC in in scoring, punt return average and all-purpose yards. North Carolina knew going into the season it would not be eligible to play in the ACC title game or the postseason, and still played with a great sense of determination and motivation. Eight wins is a great start for Fedora. GRADE: B.

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