T9C Countdown: #24 North Carolina


Gearing up for the 2009 college football season takes a lot of work. Ranking players, critiquing coaches and drinking massive quantities of beer is tough. That’s why The Nine Commandments is creating its first T9C Top 25 Countdown. To see all of the previous ranked teams, be sure to check the links at the bottom of this post. Be sure to check back daily for the latest.

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Is this the last year head coach Butch Davis is at the helm in Chapel Hill, or is he in it for the long haul at UNC? Whatever the scenario, the Tar Heels face a tough slate that may push them to greatness… or total collapse.

The ACC was a conference characterized by parity with only two teams finishing below .500 within the conference and four teams leading conference play with 5-3 records. Virginia Tech is the heavy favorite to dominate the conference while I’m picking UNC to finish with a 4-4 record again, while still notching 9 wins overall.

The defense is one of the most athletic in the country, but working as a team will be the hardest part to making 2009 a success. DT Marvin Austin, LB Quan Sturdivant, CB Kendric Burney, and S Deunta Williams are a few of the players for UNC that could be playing at the next level, but they did prove somewhat ineffective in the long haul in 2008.

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This defense needs to be the cornerstone of Davis’ team if they are to succeed in cracking down on the type of running game the ACC is known for (in comparison to the pass happy Big 12 and Pac 10). The depth of the front seven is undeniable and the athleticism of the secondary should be able to shut down their opponents on third and long situations.

Third year player DT Marvin Austin headlines a defensive line that returns all of it’s players, including the run-stopping Cam Thomas. With the experience that Davis is able to put on the d-line this season, no offense in the ACC should be able to shrug off the Tar Heels defense. Look out for a tough game between UNC and Virginia Tech at Lane Stadium on October 29th.

If T.J. Yates can avoid another Frisbee incident, the offense should be able to recover from its losses in the receiver corps. Loads of talent have been recruited to help Yates find the end zone in 2009, and that’s exactly what he will be able to do. UNC will have to replace five receivers from last year’s team, but don’t be discouraged from picking the Heels to win in 2009.

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Junior Greg Little is the lone returning receiver for the Tar Heels. His 11 catches for 146 yards did not add much to the Heels offensive equation, which brings skepticism as to whether the offense will be able to produce. “Little is going to have to be the go-to guy for our receiving corps,” Davis told scout.com at The Triangle Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame in North Carolina. Take this quote as you want, but Little has been a player known for his athleticism and has not solely played as a wide receiver in his time at UNC.

If Yates isn’t able to find his receivers consistently, Shaun Draughn should be able to fill the void on offense. His 866 yards last season were the result of his limited playing time because of the time he took to learn the safety position. In 2009, look for Draughn to take 20-25 snaps a game and contribute heavily to the Heels offense. His size and power should be able to make it past the line with the help of the big men up front. Some have said he should make All-ACC, but I’m not ready to step out that far based on his previous performane. Good player? Yes. Better than Darren Evans? I don’t think so.

Shaun Draughn

The whole backfield returns, which certainly helps the cause for consistency. It’s just… that whole Hakeem Nicks thing. Nicks accounted for over 1,200 yards in 2008 and the shoes will be hard to fill. The ACC will be tough, but the Tar Heels should have the depth, though relatively inexperienced, to compete in the parity filled conference. Luckily, UNC will return three offensive linemen, which obviously helps when you’re working with an experienced backfield while having an inexperienced receiver corps.

This seems to be the perfect time for Davis to prove that UNC has built an effective and sturdy team that will able to compete in the long run. Look for the Tar Heels to finish the season ranked, but ending up in a second-tier bowl game. This is a damn good physical team that should be able to surprise a lot of people.

Vegasinsider.com over/under: 8 games

Schedule:
September 5 Citadel 6:00 PM ET
September 12 @ Connecticut 12:00 PM ET
September 19 East Carolina 12:00 PM ET
September 26 @ Georgia Tech
October 3 Virginia
October 10 Georgia Southern
October 22 Florida State 8:00 PM ET
October 29 @ Virginia Tech 7:30 PM ET
November 7 Duke
November 14 Miami (FL)
November 21 @ Boston College
November 28 @ North Carolina State

Key Games:
9/19 East Carolina
10/22 Florida State
10/29 @ Virginia Tech

Returning:
6 on offense
9 on defense

Key Players:
DT Marvin Austin
S Duenta Williams
QB T.J. Yates
DT Darius Massenburg
WR Greg Little
RB Shaun Draughn

Key Losses:
MLB – Mark Paschal
WR – Hakeem Nicks (First Team All-ACC)
OT – Garrett Reynolds (First Team All-ACC)
S – Trimane Goddard (Second Team All-ACC)

The rest of the countdown:
#25 Pitt Panthers

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One Response to “T9C Countdown: #24 North Carolina”

  1. Thirsty Thursday Links 7/30/09 | Detroit 4 Lyfe Says:

    […] T9C #24: North Carolina [The Nine Commandments] […]

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