3 biggest North Carolina football storylines to follow this spring

Campbell v North Carolina
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3. A new identity on defense

Former coordinator Gene Chizik’s defense was unproductive to say the least over the past two seasons in Chapel Hill. Under his regime, the Tar Heels were prone to giving up big plays, evidenced by 32.6 points per game allowed and 425.4 yards per game allowed since 2022. This led Brown to part ways and hire former Georgia Tech head coach Geoff Collins to command the defense.

The good news is that 1) Collins is a renowned recruiter (brought in only the second top-25 recruiting class in Georgia Tech history in 2020), and 2) he already has some star power to work with at North Carolina, such as dynamic second-team All-ACC edge rusher Kaimon Rucker and veteran cornerback Alijah Huzzie. The bad news is that there are still some holes at each level on this defense — most notably up front.

Similar to the offensive line, the North Carolina defensive front lost a lot of production. Three defensive linemen, including three-year starter Myles Murphy, are off to the NFL while former four-star prospect Kedrick Bingley-Jones transferred to Mississippi State through the portal. A lot of work is to be done to improve a defensive line that ranked 90th in the country in rushing defense (163.2 yards per game) and 88th in sack percentage (5.52) in 2023.

All in all, the Collins hire created a lot of buzz and is seemingly an instant upgrade. This spring will give Tar Heel fans a good glimpse of Collins' new system and what he can adjust before the fall.

Next. Way-too-early Top 25 projections for 2024. Way-too-early Top 25 projections for 2024. dark