A lot of eyes were on the UNC Tar Heels during this year’s ACC Kickoff, where the former conference runner-ups took the stage to address the media and officially begin their 2023 football journey in the Queen City. If the Tar Heels want to get back to Charlotte for the ACC Championship game here are a few things to look out for:
What Will Drake Maye Do for an Encore:
This season Tar Heel quarterback Drake Maye will look to top what was a stellar freshman season and make a strong case for the Heisman Trophy and #1 pick in the NFL Draft. Maye, who says he’s taken on more of a leadership role, wants to get the Tar Heels back to Charlotte for the ACC Championship – finishing the job this time. He’ll have a new play caller in Chip Lindsey who will run a similar version of the passing game with a few new wrinkles. Speaking of Chip Lindsey…
Getting Back to Being a Strong Rushing Team:
Coach Mack Brown noted offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey’s track record with the running game, going back to his days with Gus Malzahn at Auburn. Under Lindsey, running back Kerryon Johnson was the SEC offensive player of the year in 2017. Coach Brown wants the Tar Heels to get back to being a strong rushing team. A good running game can help out a UNC defense that struggled throughout most of last season.
How Will the Transfers Fit on Offense:
Carolina will need to replace 1,827 yards of production from wide receivers Josh Downs and Antoine Green. UNC will lean on two transfers, Devontez Walker and Nate McCollum, to do so. Devontez Walker is coming off a season where he caught 11 touchdown passes and had over 900 yards receiving at Kent St. Nate McCollum is coming in from Georgia Tech where he had 655 yards receiving and three touchdowns. Coach Mack Brown says he expects a similar level of production from these two transfers that he got from Downs and Green.
The Defense Hears the Noise:
Star linebacker Cedric Gray says the UNC defense hears the noise about how bad they were in 2022 and they are ready to prove that the 2023 defense will be better. Gray stated as the leader of the defense he has taken it personally, adding that another year under Gene Chizik’s system should lead to players being more confident in what they are doing on defensively.
Physicality Will be Tested Early:
Coach Brown said that UNC’s defense will have their physicality tested early this season. UNC will open up with games against South Carolina, App State, Minnesota, and Pitt – all of whom Mack Brown says likes to run the football. If the defense isn’t up to the task they will have to lean very heavily on Drake Maye and the offense again to win them football games.
The Tar Heels will open their season with a prime time match up against South Carolina on September 2nd.