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"It's no secret their advantage is having an offense that can score a lot of points. [Junior running back] Elijah Hood's a big, physical type [6-foot, 220], plus their receiving corps is as talented as there is. It's a tall, athletic group complemented nicely by dynamo [senior] Ryan Switzer in the slot.

Quarterback Mitch Trubisky [a junior] has valuable experience, and many thought he was going to be the guy last season. Coach Larry Fedora is one of the best offensively, especially with tempo and running the ball. That's a challenge, because they're not just one of those pass-happy spreads.

Credit defensive coordinator Gene Chizik for simplifying what's primarily a 4--3 scheme. The defense was a train wreck in 2014. They gave up tons of big plays and there was a lot of finger-pointing, but Chizik helped change that. There's really nobody that scares you. Cornerbacks M.J. Stewart [a junior] and Des Lawrence [a senior] are pretty good, but their front seven is still developing. They have recruited well, however, so there's definitely some talent. As bad as they were against the run a year ago, you have to think that'll be an emphasis.

Look out on special teams; Switzer is a punt return nightmare."


The bad news: The Tar Heels finished 10th or worse in the ACC in sacks, run defense and third-down D last fall. The good news: Four starters among their front seven are gone. Can the coaches coax improvement out of the three returning linemen? Can tackle JALEN DALTON, a top 100 recruit, mature quickly?