The 2013 University of North Carolina Tar Heels will be kicking off their season with a much anticipated, nationally televised, battle with SEC powerhouse South Carolina. A very big part of the defense will be missing as Larry Fedora leads his team onto Williams-Brice Stadium that evening.
Sylvester Williams started every game during his two years at Chapel Hill, he was recently selected First Team All Atlantic Coast Conference for the 2012 season. Sly stands six foot three and tips the scales at 320 pounds. During his senior year he accounted for 42 tackles and 6.0 sacks. While these stats may not jump off the page, keep in mind he saw a steady diet of double teams all year long and most teams would game plan their offensive attack away from #92. The next time you see Sylvester Williams play will be on Sunday as nfldraftscout.com currently has him ranked as the fifth best defensive tackle in the country.
How will the Tar Heels deal with the loss of such an integral part of their defense? In 2012 the Heels defense gave up 25.7 points per game, good for 52nd in the country. If you take away the shutouts put up against Elon and Idaho and the six points allowed to East Carolina, you are talking about a unit that gave up a robust 33.5 points per game.
Carolina scored 40.6 points per game last year, good for 11th in the country. There will be a ton of talent returning at the skill positions along with several top offensive recruits including QB Mitch Trubisky, RB T.J. Logan, WR Jordan Fieulleteau, OT R.J. Prince and the return of T.J. Thorpe. I could easily see the Heels eclipse 40 points per game in year two under Coach Fedora and his offensive system. The question is will this put too much pressure on the defense? Is there enough depth on the defensive side of the ball for the system to work?
Lets take a look at some of the key returning players.
Kareem Martin: look for Kareem to be faster coming off the end next season which should lead to increased pressure on the Qb. His best game last season was at Duke where he accounted for 7.0 tackles.
Tim Jackson: showed glimpses of a player on the rise at points last season. The Heels will need production from Jackson who will enter his senior year as one of the players to watch, I think he could be the most improved player on the unit by the end of next year.
Jabari Price: when on his game, Jabari is a lock down corner. His senior leadership will be needed in a secondary that looked confused at times last season. Jabari is coming off surgery which forced him to miss the Maryland game but look for him to be back 100% and be a major force.
Tim Scott: had a stellar Sophomore season which saw him account for 47 tackles and 4 interceptions. Possibly the most improved player on Defense. I would look for his numbers to be even better next year.
If there is one thing I can guarantee going into next season is the Heels will not be involved in many 10-7 or 17-13 games. Tar Heel Nation needs to understand that there is a give and take when you have such a high powered offense. The defense will give up some points but I anticipate a much improved unit that will benefit from being under the tutelage of the same coaching staff. One thing is for sure, the excitement has returned to Kenan Stadium.