North Carolina Tar Heels Football: 2015 Season Preview and Prediction


Larry Fedora faces a crucial season at North Carolina after a disappointing 6-7 season last year so what should we expect from his Tar Heels in the 2015 season?

For the last two seasons, Larry Fedora and the North Carolina Tar Heels have entered the fall with expectations to be contenders in the ACC.

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However, injuries, inconsistency, and a putrid defense have led to back-to-back mediocre years. Fedora may not truly be on the hot seat, but he enters the 2015 with something to prove to the Tar Heel faithful.

Offensive Outlook

Simply put, the loaded UNC offense should start and end with senior quarterback Marquise Williams. He is an electric dual-threat signal caller who passed for 3,068 yards and 21 touchdowns while rushing for 1,051 yards and 13 touchdowns last fall. He is one the top returning quarterbacks in the ACC. However, his workload is immense and North Carolina must find ways to keep Williams healthy and productive for another full season.

The running back position is loaded and boasts both speed and power. Williams led the team in carries and yards, but every important running back from last year returns. Junior T.J. Logan is the most productive of the returners, and looks to improve on the 599 yards and three touchdowns he had last season. The most talented runner could be sophomore and former five-star recruit, Elijah Hood who is poised for a breakout campaign. He and senior Romar Morris combined for eight touchdowns last year.

Junior Ryan Switzer is the leading returner at the wide receiver position. He is caught 61 passes for 757 yards and four touchdowns last year and is one of the nation’s best punt returners. His punt return stats were underwhelming last year, but he’s still the same guy who had 502 return yards and five touchdowns in 2013. He’s not the only key cog returning at wideout, however.

Junior Mack Hollins caught eight touchdowns last season and is a favorite target of Williams around the goal line. Bug Howard caught 42 passes and two  touchdowns and senior Quinshad Davis’ six touchdowns are the second most among returnees.

Defensive Outlook

For as good as the Heels are on offense, they were even worse on defense last year. After a 2014 season that saw them finish 118th in total defense, Fedora brought in former Auburn head coach Gene Chizik to try to right the ship.

Fortunately, Chizik has a solid base to build on. Senior Jeff Schoetmer is a nice talent at inside linebacker and should improve off on a strong, 74-tackle 2014 season. Flanking him at the outside linebacker positions will most likely be senior Shakeel Rashad and sophomore Cayson Collins, who combined for 54 total tackles last year.

The rest of the front seven is a unkown; the Tar Heels struggles to get to the opposing quarterback last season, finishing with only 22 sacks. However, sack specialist Jessie Rogers returns for his senior year after having 5.5 sacks last year.

In the secondary, the Tar Heels return standout corner Brian Walker, a senior who led the team with three interceptions last fall. Lining up alongside him will be junior Des Lawrence who had 71 tackles and one interception in 2014. Dominique Green should be a solid strong safety, but depth issues behind him should raise a red flag for Chizik.


During Fedora’s time at UNC, the offense has been championship caliber; it’s the defense that needs to improve. Chizik will certainly help with that, but he most likely won’t be a miracle worker in his first year. If and when the Tar Heels win this fall, expect a lot of shootout victories.

The out-of-conference schedule features a game in Chapel Hill against Illinois, as well as a neutral site tilt with South Carolina in Charlotte. That, coupled with out-of-conference cupcakes versus Delaware and North Carolina A&T, should get the Tar Heels to 3-1 or 4-0 by the time ACC play rolls around.

The ACC schedule doesn’t look too hard; road games at Virginia Tech, NC State and Georgia Tech should be challenges, but they also get Miami and Duke at home. All in all, I can see the Tar Heels offense carrying them to eight wins and a step in the right direction in 2015.

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