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2003 PREVIEW: North Carolina Tar Heels

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North Carolina appeared to have the offense ready to make a big splash in the ACC. One non-existent running game later, that didn't happen, and now the program is looking to try and turn things around in the suddenly nasty ACC. The Tar Heels had to overcome the loss of Julius Peppers and Ryan Sims off the defensive line, but the talent in the secondary was supposed to overcome many of the problems up front. After giving up 231.2 passing yards per game hurt by the lack of any pass rush, the defense is suddenly in need of a a bit of an overhaul. Yup, there are problems, but they don't appear to be anything a little bit of time won't fix.

Team Information
Head coach: John Bunting
3rd year: 11-14
Returning O Lettermen: 21
Returning D Lettermen: 24
Returning ST Lettermen: 4
Lettermen Lost: 14
Ten Best Players
1. FS , Sr.
2. QB , Jr.
3. C , Jr.
4. TE , Sr.
5. OG , Sr.
6. LB , Soph.
7. CB , Sr.
8. PK , Sr.
9. WR , Jr.
10. RB , Jr.
2003 Schedule
8/30
9/6
9/20 at
9/27 at NC State
10/4
10/11 at
10/18 St
10/25 at
11/1 at
11/8
11/15 at
11/22
Head coach John Bunting went with a youth movement last year getting several true freshman and sophomores playing time with the hope that they'd be ready for the 2003 season. Those players saw plenty of action, but now the hope is to use this season to get ready for the 2004 campaign. Bunting has brought in some talented recruiting classes, and they need to see some action to give Tar Heel fans some hope for the future. There won't be any breaks in the schedule, but the Heels have more than enough talent to beat anyone not taking them seriously. The Schedule: Uh oh. It's not like the schedule is all that horrible, but it might be too much for this young team to handle early. The Tar Heels have to start the season against . The game will be a must-win with games at , at NC State and against Virginia in the next three. should be much better, followed by games against and the rest of the killer ACC schedule. The Tar Heels play nine teams that went to bowls last year. Best Offensive Player: Junior QB . With a new receiving corps and an average, at best, running game, Durant must play even better than he did last year when he led the ACC in total offense. Best Defensive Player: Senior FS . He was second in the nation in tackles last year with 166. He's a tremendous player, but Tar Heel coaches wouldn't be upset if the linebackers took care of more of the workload. Key player to a successful season: Junior RB . The running game averaged a mere three yards per carry last season. Lewis will be one of several running backs seeing time this year with the hope that someone can take the heat off of Durant. The season will be a success if: the Tar Heels take a big step towards next year. There's too much undeveloped talent and the schedule is too hard to hope to get to a bowl game without a couple of major breaks. Getting to .500 will be a success. Key game: October 4th vs. Virginia. UNC gets, arguably, the two other less-than-powerhouse ACC teams, Duke and , at home. With a nightmare of a conference road schedule, the Tar Heels have to beat Virginia in Kenan Stadium. 2002 Fun Stats:
  • Rushing yards per game: Opponents 221.2 - UNC 102.5
  • UNC won its three games by a total of 13 points
  • Third quarter scoring: Opponents 135 - UNC 44
    2003 Recruiting Class
    Star of the Class
    Lionell Green 6-1 180 DB Wharton, (Wharton/Reedley C.C., Calif.)
    Had 56 tackles, three interceptions, broke up 32 passes, blocked 10 kicks (six punts, four field goals), forced one fumble and recovered one fumble ... Helped lead Reedley to a 12-0 record and the national junior college championship ... Earned junior college All-America honors by JC Gridwire.

    Bryan Bethea 5-10 175 Ath Fayetteville, N.C. (Douglas Byrd)
    Adarius Bowman 6-4 205 WR Chattanooga, Tenn. (Notre Dame HS)
    Melik Brown 6-3 255 LB/DL Camden, N.J. (W. Wilson/Hargrave M.A., Va.)
    Shelton Bynum 6-5 310 DL Ellenwood, Ga. (Cedar Grove)
    Nick Cangelosi 6-4 215 QB Haddon Heights, N.J. (Camden Catholic)
    Larry Edwards 6-3 215 LB Tampa, Fla. (Wharton)
    Kory Gedin 6-2 230 LB Washington, D.C. (Gonzaga)
    Charlston Gray 6-3 265 OL Fort Worth, (Dunbar)
    Kyndraus Guy 6-2 260 DL Hope Mills, N.C. (South View)
    Jon Hamlett 6-5 250 TE Lynchburg, Va. (Jefferson Forest)
    Marcus Hands 6-6 245 DL Wilmington, N.C. (Laney)
    Roger Heinz 6-1 195 QB Tallahassee, Fla. (N. Christian Acad)
    Terry Hunter 6-4 245 DL Wendell, N.C. (East Wake)
    Jesse Holley 6-3 190 WR Roselle, N.J. (Abraham Clark)
    Joe Kedra 6-4 220 LB Maple Shade, N.J. (Camden Catholic)
    Scott Lenahan 6-1 295 DL Marietta, Ga. (Harrison)
    Donnell Livingston 6-3 290 DL Sarasota, Fla. (Sarasota)
    Mike Mason 6-0 180 WR Rocky Mount, N.C. (Rocky Mount)
    *Ronnie McGill 6-1 205 RB Clover, S.C. (Clover)
    Khalif Mitchell 6-6 285 DL Beach, Va. (First Colonial)
    Quinton Person 5-11 175 Ath Greenville, N.C. (North Pitt)
    Kenny Price 6-4 280 DL Beach, Va. (Kempsville)
    Fred Sparkman 6-2 215 LB Columbia, Tenn. (Columbia Central)
    *Isaiah Thomas 6-4 305 DL Winston-Salem, N.C. (Carver)
    Kareen Taylor 6-0 200 DB Hopewell, Va. (Hopewell/Fork M.A.)
    *Potential Instant Impact Players

  • Tagged: Clemson, Duke, Georgia Tech, Florida State, Wake Forest, Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, Syracuse, Wisconsin, Arizona State, Texas, East Carolina

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