2011 North Carolina Tar Heels Football Predictions and ACC Futures Odds
by Dave Schwab - 7/6/2011
North Carolina is already ahead of the game this season after last year was plagued with multiple player suspensions due to off-field academic improprieties. The loss of several key starters led to a 0-2 start and a disappointing 4-4 record in ACC play for a Tar Heel team that was touted in the preseason as one of the best in the conference. They were able to salvage a 8-5 record overall after beating Tennessee 30-27 in overtime in the Music City Bowl, but never really came close to living up to all the expectations.
Head Coach Butch Davis did a tremendous job managing a very difficult situation last season. He was able to plug as many holes as possible in a lineup riddled with player suspensions, especially up and down the defensive line. The plus side of all this was the development of some younger talent that should pay some huge dividends in this year’s campaign. The entire program remains under a cloud due to an ongoing investigation by the NCAA into some possible improper dealings between agents and players, but Davis is hoping that the worst is behind for his team heading into the 2011 season.
Sophomore quarterback Bryn Renner will take over the reins for the departed T.J. Yates, which could point to a heavier reliance on the run game in offensive coordinator John Shoop’s overall scheme. Renner is more than capable, but given the fact that he threw a total of two passes in 2010 it may take some time for him to grow into the role. In the meantime, the Tar Heels will go with a heavy dose of running back Ryan Houston, who is back for his senior year after missing most of last season due to injury. Renner will also benefit from having two experienced receivers as Dwight Jones and Jheranie Boyd are back in the mix. Jones led the Tar Heels in 2010 with 62 catches for 946 yards and four touchdowns. Boyd had only 14 receptions last season, but three were for scores.
The biggest benefit of last year’s mess was the emergence of a defensive line that could be the best in the ACC this season. DE Quinton Coples is a legitimate pro prospect, but is also at the center of the NCAA’s agent-player probe and has yet to be cleared of any wrong doing. Much of the Tar Heels success could be pinned to Coples retaining his eligibility this season. Another question mark for this defense is a secondary that has CB Charles Brown as its only starter from last year. There is some solid young talent ready to step up fill the void, but there still may be a bit of a learning curve in the early part of the season.
2011 North Carolina Tar Heels Football Schedule
The Tar Heels’ schedule is extremely favorable in the first few weeks with winnable games against James Madison, Rutgers, and Virginia. The first real test will be in Week 7 when they host Miami. Other than a road game against Clemson on Oct 22 and a Nov. 17 trip to Blacksburg to take on Virginia Tech, this North Carolina team could be favored in every other game on the slate.
2011 North Carolina National Championship and ACC Futures Odds
Bodog has opened the Tar Heels at 80/1 to win the BCS title this season, with Miami (60/1), Virginia Tech (35/1), and Florida State (10/1) as the only three teams in the ACC to have better odds. Other offshore books have North Carolina even with Clemson at +800 to win the ACC title this year. The Seminoles and Hokies are co-favorites at +175 and the Hurricanes are next at +450.
2011 North Carolina Tar Heels Football Predictions
This is definitely a team to watch in 2011. If Butch Davis’s squad can keep their nose clean long enough so that none of its starters lose any playing time due to off-field issues, this Tar Heel team has the talent and ability to win most of the games they play. There could be some setbacks with Renner as the new starting quarterback, but it’s reasonable to expect a 9-3 record overall and a third-place finish in the ACC Coastal Division.
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