North Carolina won’t factor into the bowl discussion in 2012 due to sanctions handed down by the NCAA earlier this year, but that won’t stop the Tar Heels from possessing one of the ACC’s most potent offenses.
For the third consecutive season, North Carolina will start its campaign with a new head coach at the helm. Larry Fedora is now the man in charge, following an impressive 12-2 season with Southern Mississippi in 2011. Fedora will institute the spread offense—which figures to open up the passing game for junior quarterback Bryn Renner—and a unique 4-2-5 defense.
The Tar Heel offense will be stabilized by returning players at quarterback, running back and on the offensive line. Renner is coming off a season in which he set a school record with 26 touchdowns.
At tailback, 2011 freshman All-American Giovani Bernard will carry the load once again. Bernard set a North Carolina freshman single-season record with 1,253 rushing yards in 2011.
Bernard’s success can be traced back to a very talented offensive line, which is returning four of its five starters from the year before, including All-ACC second team members Jonathan Cooper and James Hurst.
The UNC offensive attack isn’t perfect, though. The Tar Heels will miss wide receiver Dwight Jones, who accounted for 12 of the 26 touchdowns scored through the air.
The Tar Heel defense, returning just five starters, is not as strong as its offense. Among those lost are defensive end Quinton Coples and linebacker Zach Brown, who were both selected in the NFL Draft. North Carolina’s new defensive scheme will rely heavily upon defensive tackle Sylvester Williams and junior middle linebacker Kevin Reddick.