The North Carolina Tar Heels ended the season with an 8-5 record. Despite being ravaged by suspensions and the stress of ongoing NCAA investigations, the Tar Heels managed to be relatively successful under head coach Butch Davis.
Heading into 2011, the Tar Heels are primed to be a surprise team in the ACC.
With new talented freshman and many talented upperclassmen returning to the team, the Tar Heels could be ready to take that next step toward the top of the conference.
Over the offseason, several things happened that will affect the program this season.
Here are some good and bad things that will shape the 2011 football season in Chapel Hill:
Quinton Coples will be another defensive player drafted in the first round in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Butch Davis has put premium talent on the defensive side of the ball throughout his stint at UNC, and Coples is no different.
A rangy defensive end, Coples can terrorize the run game and also get after the opposing quarterback.
The Tar Heels once again have a potential top ten pick in the NFL Draft, and Coples should have a very productive senior year in Chapel Hill.
Butch Davis managed to land another solid recruiting class for the Tar Heels.
Marquise Williams is a solid quarterback prospect, and Travis Hughes could be another great defensive prospect developed by the Tar Heels coaching staff.
In order for a college program for be successful, a coach has to be able to recruit well, and that is one thing Butch Davis does very well.
As long as Davis is running the show in Chapel Hill, expect their program to consistently land top-end talent.
Russell Wilson was released from his scholarship with the NC State Wolfpack, because of his wish to potentially pursue a baseball career.
The Tar Heels, or any other ACC team, will be sad to see Wilson go, having gained 8,545 yards through the air along with 76 touchdowns in only three seasons with the Wolfpack.
North Carolina has a chance to gain an upperhand in this interstate rivalry with the loss of the prolific quarterback.
Look for N.C. State to finish near the bottom of the ACC Atlantic Division.
Dwight Jones will replace Greg Little and excel in 2011.
Jones, who was fourth in the ACC in receiving yards last season, could make the transition to a new quarterback much easier in Chapel Hill.
With a big 6'4'' frame, Jones has the chance to improve on his 62-catch, 946-yard season in 2010.
Dwight Jones managed to develop a good chemistry with T.J. Yates; can he do with same with Renner?
When healthy, Ryan Houston is a solid power back in the Tar Heels backfield.
Houston, who didn't play at all in 2010, could add experience to a backfield that saw three top rushers defect from the depth chart.
Running at 245 pounds, Houston will at least play a vital role inside the opponent's 5-yard line.
Experience in the backfield will be very important for the Tar Heels as they break in new starter Bryn Renner.
Any time a quarterback graduates to the NFL, it is a tough loss to take for the collegiate team heading into next year.
T.J. Yates was a very important player for the Tar Heels over his four-year career, holding 37 school records.
Yates may not have been the decorated of quarterbacks in terms of NCAA awards, but he was a solid performer for the Tar Heels behind center.
A large amount of responsibility in 2011 falls on the shoulders of new quarterback, sophomore Bryn Renner.
North Carolina has been one of the most scrutinized programs since Butch Davis has come on to the scene.
Yes, Robert Quinn, Marvin Austin and Greg Little all were heavily investigated and suspended Tar Heels players. But yes, these players were also very talented.
All three of these players could go on to be average to above-average NFL players.
Without these types of talents impacting the game, programs cannot thrive.
However, North Carolina should hold up just fine after another nationally ranked recruiting class.
As mentioned before, the Tar Heels have been scrutinized heavily by the NCAA since Butch Davis took the head coaching position in 2007.
Ongoing investigations is more than likely going to lead to the loss of scholarships or being disbarred from bowl competition.
The Tar Heels once again have the talent necessary to win in 2011, but can they stay out of their own ways off of the football field and can Davis managed to keep his nose clean?
The Tar Heels will have to replace three members of their secondary in 2011.
Filling those vacant spots are likely to be cornerback Jabari Price and safeties Tre Boston and Jonathan Smith.
The success of the Tar Heels pass defense will depend largely on how these three players can adapt to more responsibility on defense.
While Donte Paige-Moss and Quinton Coples will harass quarterbacks, the secondary will still play a vital role for the Tar Heels if they want to compete.
If you haven't noticed, that is the third picture of Butch Davis out of the last 10 pictures.
The bottom line is, Butch Davis has brought mostly trouble the Tar Heels program.
Yes, Davis can recruit as well as any coach in the country. Is that because of his illegal methods?
Whether it is or not, the NCAA seems suspicious enough to suspend talented players from games, and therefore Davis is bringing trouble to an upstart ACC team.
North Carolina should cut ties with Davis and start fresh, in a newer and quieter direction.