Midseason report: North Carolina


Record: 5-1, 1-1 ACC

In looking at UNC’s record, you’d never know the Tar Heels fired their coach just days before August camp began. Interim coach Everett Withers was promoted and promptly picked up the pieces, just as the former defensive coordinator did in 2010 when the NCAA investigation depleted his defense with suspensions for the season opener against LSU.

With a first-year starting quarterback and a new head coach, North Carolina has put itself in position to contend for the Coastal Division title in the second half of the season. Their lone ACC loss to Georgia Tech hurt -- UNC still needs the Yellow Jackets to lose twice -- but it didn’t knock the Tar Heels out of the race. With a perfect 4-0 record against nonconference opponents this year, UNC is on pace to win more games this year than Butch Davis ever did in Chapel Hill. Withers is the school’s first head coach to start his tenure 5-1 since Ray Wolf in 1936. The Tar Heels are also undefeated at home for the first time since 1997.

Much of their success can be attributed to the quick maturation of quarterback Bryn Renner, who has not thrown an interception in three of his past four games. Tailback Giovani Bernard has also had an outstanding season, and UNC’s scoring defense is No. 19 in the country at 18.5 points per game.

The computers and critics would argue that UNC has yet to beat a quality opponent, but more importantly, UNC has yet to lose to more than one.

Offensive MVP: TB Giovani Bernard: He has scored eight rushing touchdowns through six games, and leads all freshman runners in the country with 109.5 yards per game. Overall, he ranks third in the league and 19th in the country. He has rushed for 100 yards in four straight games.

Defensive MVP: LB Kevin Reddick: He missed the Louisville game with an ankle injury, but is second on the team with 33 tackles and 4.5 tackles for losses. He also has one sack, one pass breakup, one fumble recovery and two quarterback hurries.