North Carolina finished the 2012 season at 8-4 (5-3 ACC). They were a potent offensive weapon in coach Larry Fedora’s first year, finishing 10th in the nation in the “points for” category with an average of 40.6 per game. UNC showed flashes of brilliance on the offensive end and routinely won by simply outgunning their opponent this season. But what’s the old adage, defense wins championships? Fedora must improve the Tar Heels defense next season and this is how.
1) Focus on the biggest leaks first.
The UNC secondary has been the most glaring weak link in the Tar Heel football season. Let’s take a trip down memory lane of bad games.
Louisville completed 23 of 28 pass attempts for three touchdowns and 10.0 yards per pass. Dook’s wide receiver, Conner Vernon, hauled in six receptions for 124 yards and an average of 20.7 yards per catch. N.C. State threw for 467 yards and 5 touchdowns on Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels lost both two of these three games. What does that say? Let’s take care of secondary problem immediately.
2) Coach up the new recruits.
Ah, finally. That’s what Larry Fedora has to be thinking with his first season under his belt. He brings in a strong recruiting class with two ESPN 150 Commits, five ESPN 300 Commits, and a 14th ranked national recruiting class overall. Fedora’s star recruit? You guessed it, a cornerback. Brian Walker is a 5’11, 180 pound shut down corner from Charlotte who brings a new school swagger to Fedora’s quick-strike system. Incoming defensive tackle Greg Webb was a highly recruited, disrupting force up front. He’s also the second-highest ranked behind corner Brian Walker.
Cornerback and defensive tackles play off one another a lot. By shutting down the run up front, a strong defensive tackle forces the other team to become one-dimensional. That’s how picks happen. And Brian Walker looks to be pretty good at that.
It’s important that both new defenders quickly acclimate to their new-found importance on the team. Chance are, they’ll be seeing a lot of playing time under Larry Fedora. Everyone in Carolina Blue next season will be watching very carefully.