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North Carolina entered 2013 with high expectations. The Tar Heels finished 8-4 with NCAA sanctions preventing this team from playing in a bowl game last season and was picked by some to win the Coastal Division.
However, North Carolina has been one of the biggest disappointments in the ACC so far, starting the season with a 1-4 record.
The Tar Heels lost on the road to South Carolina, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and at home to East Carolina.
Although none of those losses are particularly bad, a 1-4 start isn’t what most envisioned for this team.
Both sides of the ball share blame for North Carolina, but the schedule will get easier.
After a 1-4 Start, Will North Carolina Make a Bowl in 2013?
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
The Tar Heels are off to a disappointing start, but let’s not forget this team has played three challenging road tests – South Carolina, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech. With three new starters, the offensive line was a huge question mark going into the season, and so far, those concerns haven’t been answered. But all is not lost for North Carolina, as the schedule will lighten in the second half of the season. The Tar Heels have two weeks to prepare for Miami, which should allow quarterback Bryn Renner to get healthy after missing last Saturday’s game against Virginia Tech with an ankle injury. After playing the Hurricanes, coach Larry Fedora’s team has home games against Boston College, Virginia, Old Dominion and Duke, with road games against Pittsburgh and NC State. With four winnable home games, North Carolina just needs to win one out of the remaining trio, and NC State and Pittsburgh are winnable on the road. The Tar Heels may finish the regular season at 6-6, but I think Fedora gets this team to a bowl.
As a North Carolina fan, it hurts me that we even have to have this discussion, but the proof is in the pudding and right now the Tar Heels have a lot of lumps to smooth out. The offense hasn't been anywhere near as explosive or productive as it was last season and the defense has been far too generous. While the loss to East Carolina two games ago was tough to watch, I think there's light at the end of the tunnel for Larry Fedora's team. Following next Thursday's game against Miami, Carolina's schedule becomes a lot more manageable. The Tar Heels have just two road games (NC State and Pitt) the rest of the way and still have a date with Old Dominion left. Boston College, Virginia and Duke have yet to win an ACC game of their own and, like North Carolina, are teams with obvious flaws. Outside of Miami, I believe that North Carolina can win its remaining home games. Bowl eligibility would then come down to beating either NC State or Pitt on the road, and the optimist in me says that the Heels find a way to get it done. In that case, a 5-2 finish to the season would be pretty impressive considering how poorly this team has looked in the early going.
Coach Fisher DeBerry, former head coach of Air Force and current voting member of the Legends Poll:
I think North Carolina will have a great chance to make a bowl game this year, even though they are only 1-4. North Carolina's head coach, Larry Fedora, was on my staff and he coaches with great passion. They will be getting some players back from injuries, which has been a problem for them so far. Larry will have them competitive in every game left on their schedule. I would not count them out by any means.
David Fox (@DavidFox615)
The silver lining for North Carolina at least is that after Miami on Oct. 17, the toughest portion of the schedule is over. Teams like Boston College, Virginia and Duke heaven’t played that much better than the Tar Heels, and Old Dominion is transitioning to the FBS level. Even if we’re generous and give North Carolina wins in all of those games, that still gets them to only five wins. Carolina would need to defeat Miami at home or Pittsburgh or NC State on the road. That’s not going to happen. Clearly, we underestimated how important first-round draft pick Jonathan Cooper was to the run game, not to mention Giovani Bernard. Carolina is averaging just 2.9 yards per carry this season compared to better than five yards per carry last season. Throw in a banged up Bryn Renner, and North Carolina doesn’t have enough offense to get to six wins.
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