Defense, defense, defense.
That is the talk of the town in Chapel Hill.
It is the old coach’s adage, “Defense wins championships.”
This 2010 UNC football team certainly has an outstanding defense. They have some of the best defenders in the country on the team.
The list is long: Robert Quinn, Marvin Austin, Quan Sturdivant, Bruce Carter, Deunta Williams, Da’Norris Searcy, Kendric Burney, and others who are ready to contribute.
For the Heels to be ready to compete for the ACC Championship this season, the defense must be even better than it was last season. The three burning questions I have for the defense are consistent pressure on the quarterback, defending the pass, and overall depth.
Will they pressure the quarterback?
Now, the front seven on the defense are among the best in the country so this is not an area to whine about. That is not my thought at all.
My thought is that this front seven has to be the best, or at least close, in the country to be able to win any championships or quality bowl games this season.
No coach in the country would complain about this group, but they must play their best football this year. Marvin Austin, in particular, must live up to the hype surrounding him coming out of high school.
The linebackers have speed and can get to the quarterback, but they must be able to make every tackle this year. There is little room for error.
Quarterback pressure is not really a concern. The burning question is whether or not it will be at the highest level?
How well will they defend the pass?
Anybody watching UNC play last year got frustrated at how wide-open receivers were at times. The catches were just too easy.
That is why the passing defense was only 45th best in the country this past year when the total defense was sixth in the country, according to Foxsports.com.
Of course, the above question, pressuring the quarterback, will also help in this area. The star corners and safeties must not allow so much room for receivers to catch the ball in 2010.
For UNC to win an ACC Championship they must limit the big catches, and reduce the total passing yardage of their opponents.
Some of the difficulty in passing defense is a result of our next burning question: depth.
Who will provide depth on defense?
The biggest concern for Coach Davis has been finding depth to spell the ferocious starting lineup. He has found at least some quality depth nearly everywhere.
The Spring Game showed some promise, but Coach Davis knows that is just one game. He will be going on how well they have performed all offseason.
I have no doubt that Michael McAdoo and Mywan Jackson were not Spring Game flukes. They are very good players.
Zach Brown, the speedy linebacker, has to prove he also has the smarts to be a solid linebacker. The backup cornerbacks, including Mywan Jackson, must prove that they can shutdown any ACC wide receiver.
Donte Paige-Moss, a gifted defensive end, must prove he has matured into a college football player. Brandon Willis has to prove he is beyond his years to get a chance to play on the defensive line.
There will be depth on this defense when it is all said and done, but it is still a burning question going into the summer.
Those are my three burning questions for the UNC defense. This UNC defense will be special, but it still has key areas to work on for it to produce at championship level.
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