NORTH CAROLINA FOOTBALL SEASON PREVIEW: NORTH CAROLINA TAR HEELS TEAM FACTS: Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina Stadium: Kenan Stadium Conference: ACC Conference Rivals: Duke Blue Devils
The North Carolina Tar Heels are better known for their prowess on the basketball court than on the gridiron, but the past several years have done much to improve that reputation. While the Tar Heels finished with a 7-6 record and fell below expectations, the program's talent level has improved by leaps and bounds and they are now one of the best squads in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). During head coach Larry Fedora's first year at the helm, the Tar Heels hope to make the jump from an up-and-coming program to one of the most feared teams in the ACC.
The Tar Heels should be able to hit the ground running on offense, thanks to seven starters returning from the 2012 campaign. Quarterback Bryn Renner will once again come back to run the offense, and his 26 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 2011 show just how far he's come as a passer. The Tar Heels' leading running back Giovani Bernard will also return, and he will try to best his impressive 1,253 rushing yards from a year ago. The biggest question mark seems to be the receiving corps, where senior receiver Eric Highsmith will need help from underclassmen to avoid double coverage on each play. The Tar Heels will also benefit from one of the most seasoned offensive lines in all of college football, which returns four starters from a year ago.
One of the major aspects of North Carolina's resurgence has been the strength of their defensive recruiting, and that is punctuated by the play of defensive end Kareem Martin. The impressively athletic end will pair with Adam Curry to form one of the most fearsome duos in the ACC. The linebacking corps is lead by senior Kevin Reddick, who posted 71 tackles during the 2011 campaign and showed his knack for making big plays. The front seven will have to play well to cover up deficiencies in the secondary, which will feature at least three underclassmen.
The Tar Heels have a great shot to get back to the elite of the ACC this year, thanks to favorable scheduling of non-conference opponents. With matchups against Louisville, East Carolina, and Elon Phoenix, the Tar Heels have a good shot to build some momentum before getting into the heart of their ACC schedule. If the team can show signs of consistency and put it together on offense, the Tar Heels have nowhere to go but up.
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The UNC Tar Heels first began playing football in 1888. The program has made one incredible contribution to the game of football: in 1895, the Tar Heels were the first team to invent the forward pass. When a punt was nearly blocked, the UNC punter threw the ball downfield for a 70 yard touchdown. The Tar Heels have 8 conference titles and 25 bowl game appearances. Some of the great Tar Heels football players who've made an impact in the NFL include Lawrence Taylor, Alge Crumpler, Willie Parker, Greg Ellis, Dre Bly, and Julius Peppers.
The UNC Tar Heels play their home games at Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The stadium was opened in 1926 and now has a capacity of 60,000. Located in a stand of pine trees, Kenan Stadium is one of the most scenic in college football. Attend a Tar Heel game this season and watch the fireworks shoot from Kenan Field House as UNC takes the field and after each score. Buy North Carolina Tar Heels tickets today and don't miss any of the action!
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