As ACC teams begin to start practicing again, Andrea Adelson and I will have a quick preview of each team to get you caught up on the basics. Next up to open camp …
School: North Carolina
Start date: Friday
Projected finish at ACC media days: Third in the Coastal Division
Biggest storyline: The Larry Fedora era begins. There has been a much-needed fresh start in Chapel Hill, and it all starts with the energetic new head coach whose offense is as up-tempo as his personality. Fedora has said repeatedly that the bowl ban and NCAA sanctions won’t deter his players from giving their all this fall, and the fact that they know what the sanctions are and can put the past behind them is a victory in itself. Fedora is right; those within the program and around it are tired of hearing that four-letter word (NCAA). It’s time to play football and see just how good this team can be after a complete overhaul of both the staff and philosophies.
Biggest position battle: Nose tackle. Sophomores Shawn Underwood and Devonte Brown are competing for the starting job, but neither has much experience. Underwood was listed as a co-starter at defensive tackle, and was one of 10 true freshmen to play last year. He had shoulder surgery immediately after spring practice. Brown also played as a true freshman last year, but his time was limited to the season opener against James Madison.
Who needs to step up: Wide receivers. This group has to increase its production in order to compensate for the loss of Dwight Jones, who accounted for nearly a third of Carolina’s receiving yardage last year and scored nearly half of the team’s receiving touchdowns. Erik Highsmith, Jheranie Boyd and Todd Harrelson will get the spotlight, but ideally, Fedora would like to have at least three receivers on the field the majority of the time, and eventually four or five at times. The group isn’t quite ready for the latter yet, but if Fedora’s offense is going to work, the receivers need to be ready for the “Fed spread.”