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Oct 8, 2011; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels linebacker Zach Brown (47) and defensive tackle Sylvester Williams (92) and linebacker Fabby Desir (49) tackle Louisville Cardinals running back Jeremy Wright (28) during the first half at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

UNC Spring Ball Crystal Ball: Defensive Line

North Carolina’s first year under Larry Fedora is complete, Gio Bernard had a banner year and declared for the NFL and Bryn Renner had another record year, but for the passionate football fan those are things of the past in the what have you done for me lately world of college football.  Although the offense put up record numbers knowledgeable fans know the only way to to reach a BCS bowl and win the Coastal division is the continued success of the offense along with a much improved defense.  Spring football is the time where the depth chart unfolds and opportunities are there for newcomers to state their claim for playing time.

The defensive line loses senior leader Sylvester Williams to graduation and Kareem Martin and Tim Jackson need to make the most of next fall if they have dreams of playing in the NFL.  Consistent play has been an issue for each player and without making excuses for the two talented linemen depth needs to be improved through recruiting along with several young players to allow Martin and Jackson needed rest within the game.  The North Carolina offense plays at such a furry of pace that eight defensive linemen need to be able to play.  A prediction I am ready to make is that Travis Hughes may see repetitions in the spring at defensive end.  He has the combination of size and speed to rush the quarterback.  My idea may be far fetched and it is hypocritical because of my views toward Marquise Williams and Bryn Renner.

As talented as I may think he is Travis Hughes has not earned the right to receive a lot of playing time.  Jesse Rogers showed glimpses as a true freshman that his future is bright and Tyler Alberts has the frame and potential at an end position.  Production is what is needed out of the defensive end position and UNC must find a player who can create pressure on the quarterback to keep the secondary out of coverage for a long period of time.  Ethan Farmer and Shawn Underwood need to use the off season to become stronger and gain experience this spring.  There are several incoming recruits for the defensive line however even Julius Peppers needed a  redshirt season before being ready for college football.  When watching the spring game if we see the defensive line getting pressure on Renner and the other quarterbacks that will be a sign of improvement because despite the loss of Jonathan Cooper the offensive line is still one of talented spots in the program.

As always you can follow the Haley and MandMsportshow on twitter @MandMSportshowand you can read more articles from Haley at The Water Cooler.


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