Friday, August 27, 2010

Projecting UNC: We're seeing a 7-5 year

North Carolina athletics director Dick Baddour said Thursday there is now a “two-pronged” investigation, but the two have a central theme – UNC football players apparently acted in ways they knew or should have known were wrong.

There’s no way Carolina players should have taken a trip to the West Coast for a workout camp. Had they checked with the school’s compliance office, they would have found that wasn’t allowed under NCAA rules.

What the school announced Thursday was even more serious. Any elementary school kid knows you can’t turn in homework that’s not your own. If a player turned in a paper they didn’t write, they should get a failing grade for the class and be suspended from the team for a season. There’s really no middle ground here.

All this sets up a season like no other at UNC. Carolina has its best team since 1997 but faces a schedule that’s as unforgiving as an NCAA investigator. A 7-5 season is a real possibility, especially if multiple starters are sitting out games – or even the season. Carolina’s starting defense is astonishing but the depth beyond that is unproven, and there will be few easy Saturdays this fall.

Here’s our projection for 2010:

Sept. 4, vs. LSU: Winnable? Sure. Carolina will play hard and want to put on a good show. But the Tar Heels could be absent too many starters to beat LSU, even if the Tigers are no longer an elite SEC program.

Sept. 18, Ga. Tech: This game is tough for UNC even at full strength. Carolina never got a handle on the Yellow Jackets offense last year – look for Tech to prevail again.

Sept. 25, at Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights were 9-4 last year but had heavy losses, with only 12 starters back. Look for a frustrated Carolina to win.

Oct. 2, East Carolina: ECU’ new offense will be fun, but the Pirates don’t have the weapons to win in Chapel Hill this time. The Heels get this one.

Oct. 9, Clemson: Ah, it’s Family Day in Chapel Hill, and the Tigers arrive for the first time since 2002. It’s always fun to see so much orange in Orange County – but it also serves as a reminder of how expansion has changed the league. Clemson and UNC haven’t played since 2006, and this time, look for Carolina to win.

Not looking forward to Oct. 16
Oct. 16, at Virginia: Even Thomas Jefferson is picking against the Wahoos this time, as this long streak has to end. Carolina finally gets a victory in Charlottesville.

Oct. 23, at Miami: Miami QB Jacory Harris has racked up preseason plaudits, but remember, he threw 17 interceptions last season. UNC’s defense is a pick-hungry lot, but if Harris can play under control, Miami should win. The Canes were 9-4 last year and are steadily improving under Randy Shannon.

Oct. 30, William and Mary: An easy win for UNC, even though the Tribe won 11 games last season.

Nov. 6, at Florida State:
Last year’s loss to FSU was a crusher for the Heels, but they have a chance if they are full strength. Still, you have to believe the Seminoles will be on the rise at this point in the season as they adapt to Jimbo Fisher in his first year as head coach. By the way, this is the Seminoles’ Homecoming game.

Nov. 13, Va. Tech:
Carolina’s win in Blacksburg last season was impressive, especially with 181 yards on the ground, and Tech returns only four starters on a defense. So there’s reason for optimism for UNC fans. Still, it’s hard to imagine Carolina beating the Hokies two years in a row.
Tech’s offense will be formidable – this game goes to maroon and gold.

Nov. 20, N.C. State: Tom O’Brien finally loses to light blue. But if Carolina has five losses at this point and then falls to State for the fourth straight season, you can write this off as one of the most disappointing seasons in Tar Heel history.

Nov. 27, Duke:  Carolina has won 19 of 20 against Duke, which makes it hard to remember when the Blue Devils used to win the Victory Bell. Nowadays, this quaint tradition between the schools seems difficult to remember. Once again, the Heels will be ringing it at game's end.

1 comment:

  1. This is an impossible season to predict. Depending on who is lost, it could be anything from 6-6 to 10-2. But with the negative vibe hanging over UNC this season, you have to think 7-5 or 8-4 is as good as it will get.
    If the depth steps up and handles the adversity as a rallying call, I think 9-3 is possible.
    Did I cover all the bases? Like I said, at this point, it's impossible to predict. In fact, I understand Las Vegas has stopped doing odds on the opener against LSU.