Keith Gilmore will be taking over as defensive line coach for the Tar Heels next season. He will be inheriting a group that ranked 53rd in the nation in the ‘Points Allowed’ category, giving up 25.7 a game. To be fair to Coach Gilmore, a lot of that responsibility falls on the secondary’s shoulders. Make no mistake though, UNC will have to put an emphasis on the defensive side of the ball if they look to make an improvement on last season. That starts up front.
UNC will need to find some answers for the defense—and quick. The reason the Tar Heels were able to finish 8-4 (and first in the ACC Coastal division) was because they outscored their opponents. Those games were shootouts. I don’t think anyone in their right mind would call UNC wins a defensive battle. It was more like the OK Corral. However, Chapel Hill will need to find a way to at least slow down the other guys next season. This is because All-American Giovani Bernard has leapt to the NFL. That’s a substantial amount of points they must make up one way or another. It’s a lot easier to stop letting the other guy score so many. The defensive line is a major part of that.
New coach Gilmore will have some returning firepower in 2013. Rising senior Kareem Martin finished with forty tackles and four sacks. They will look to him for senior leadership in the locker room and to lead by example. However, Tar Heels are also losing some big numbers to graduation. They will go without graduate Sylvester Williams’ six sacks and forty-two tackles.
So, that begs the question, what does next season look like for Chapel Hill? Well, I think it’s pretty obvious. If Head Coach Larry Fedora made a choice to hire a defensive line coach in UNC’s first big off-season move, all signs point to an improved defensive line next season.