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CFN: North Carolina Defense

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The Skinny: The front seven has almost no experience and will be a work in progress all season. The starting lineup by week eleven will be vastly different than the week one lineup. The secondary is extremely strong led by CB and FS . Defensive Line: You don't lose two of the NFL's top rookie defensive linemen and remain as productive. So how do the Tar Heels replace and ? One boost is the return of junior DT who should be ready for the start of the season following a knee injury. At the moment, senior will start at the other tackle spot with juniors and as the primary backups. Junior and sophomore will start on the ends and while both have a little experience, it's going to take some time for these two to make a big impact. Sophomores and will compete for playing time. Grade: C+ ... Not to be too harsh on the Tar Heel defensive line, but the best player is still rehabbing a knee and the rest of the players don't have much experience.

Returning Starters (3)
CB 5-11 173 Sr.
FS 6-0 187 Jr.
DT 6-4 272 Jr.
Linebackers: The linebacking corps is the team's biggest concern losing Quincy Monk, Merceda Perry and . There's only one start between all the returning players which means it'll be trial by fire for the whole group. Senior has spent most of his career on the special teams and now will hold down the weak side position backed up by sophomore Martin Jernigan. Senior will get the first crack in the middle after tore up his knee in off-season drills. Sophomore will back up Williams and contend for one of the outside spots. Sophomore and junior will combine to play on the strong side. Grade: C ... Things aren't as dire as they might seem as this group does have talent, just no experience. Look for this to be a vastly different mix of players by the end of the year as the coaches will experiment all year long. Secondary: The secondary should be outstanding with the return of one of the ACC's best cover corners, senior and junior free safety . At only 187-pounds, Reid is hardly an imposing figure but he hits like a ton of bricks making 99 stops last year. Sophomore and senior will compete for the starting strong safety job with 214-pound sophomore not far behind. The key to the secondary will be the play of the other corner as few are going to challenge Waddell. Senior moves over from nickel back and should be a nice complement to Waddell. Sophomore and junior are solid reserves. Grade: B+ ... If Knight turns into a big-time player at corner, the secondary could be the strength of the team. Special Teams: Junior returns to punt after a decent 2001 season. He doesn't have a booming leg, but he's not a liability be any means. Junior and senior Jonathan Cook will compete for 's placekicking job with Orner having the early line on the job. is set to take over the punt returning duties as long as doesn't return. will return some kicks as well. Senior will once again return kickoffs. Grade: B ... It all depends on Orner. This isn't a superior unit, but UNC will never lose because of special teams.
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