UNC spring wrap


2009 overall record: 8-5

2009 conference record: 4-4

Returning starters

Offense: 10, defense: 9, punter/kicker 2

Top returners

WR Greg Little, QB T.J. Yates, TB Shaun Draughn, TE Zack Pianalto, DE Robert Quinn, DT Marvin Austin, LB Quan Sturdivant, LB Bruce Carter, CB Kendrick Burney, S Deunta Williams, S Da’Norris Searcy, CB Charles Brown

Key losses

OT Kyle Jolly, DE E.J. Wilson, DT Cam Thomas

2009 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Ryan Houston* (713 yards)

Passing: Yates* (2,136 yds)

Receiving: Little* (724 yds)

Tackles: Sturdivant* (79)

Sacks: Quinn* (11)

Interceptions: Williams* (6)

Spring answers

1. Offensive line potential. There were signs this spring that UNC fans can expect the offensive line to be better -– as long as everyone stays healthy. Center Jonathan Cooper started nine games as a freshman last year, guard Alan Pelc will be a three-year starter, Carl Gaskins has drawn rave reviews the past two years, and Travis Bond played well in his start against Pitt’s physical defensive line in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.

2. Little leader. After the success he had last season cementing his position as the team’s top receiver, Greg Little took more ownership of an offense that needs it. His success carried over to spring drills, and it’s clear he’ll be the leader of a group that returns its top 13 receivers from a year ago.

3. Draughn back on top. He was injured in the ninth game and missed the rest of the season, but reasserted himself as the main man this spring with Houston out to concentrate on his academics. (Houston wasn’t suspended, he just needed some extra time to focus). Draughn appears to be the likely starter heading into the fall.

Fall questions

1. The Yates debate. It’s one of the biggest questions in the conference this season: Will rookie Bryn Renner unseat Yates as the starter? Coach Butch Davis has said that Renner will play against LSU, but how much and when is anybody’s guess. Odds are it would take a remarkable performance by Renner in summer camp or an injury to Yates for him to lose his job before the season opener.

2. Overall offensive improvement. How much better can the offense be? It has to be better than 108th in the country in total offense. The Tar Heels have got to run the ball better, no matter who the quarterback is. There are no longer three freshmen on the offensive line, and if everyone stays healthy, that leaves no more excuses.

3. Defensive line tweaks. Even one of the most talented defenses in the country has a few holes to fill, and it’s up front for the Tar Heels, were defensive end E.J. Wilson and tackle Cam Thomas have to be replaced. Tydreke Powell is the frontrunner to take over at tackle and Quinton Coples and Michael McAdoo will continue to compete this summer. McAdoo had four sacks and an interception in the spring game, a performance that kept him in the conversation.