North Carolina Football Preview
COACH: Butch Davis (51-20 overall, 6 years; 1st year at North Carolina).2006 RESULTS: 3-9, 2-6 ACC, 5th Coastal Division.
RETURNING STARTERS: 5 offense, 4 defense.
KEY PLAYER: WR Hakeem Nicks. With little experience at tailback and quarterback, this team needs a skill position leader. Nicks, the sophomore from Charlotte who caught 39 passes for 660 yards last season, can fill that role.
IMPACT NEWCOMER: DT Marvin Austin. Personable freshman was the nation's most coveted defensive line recruit and could solidify North Carolina's most stable position unit.
SHOES TO FILL: SS Trimane Goddard. After Goddard's season-ending foot injury during the 2006 preseason, Kareen Taylor became the leader of the defense at free safety. Goddard returns as North Carolina's top playmaker in the secondary.
GETTING TECHNICAL: The strong point on a mediocre roster is a defensive line featuring Kentwan Balmer and Hilee Taylor. This might allow Davis to attack on defense the way he did at Miami.
COACH'S OUTLOOK: The excitement over the start of Davis' tenure is unparalleled in recent Tar Heels football history. But he is trying to lower expectations because of his team's lack of experience.
BIGGEST GAME: Sept. 8 at East Carolina. A win is essential to continue the momentum of North Carolina's program. But East Carolina probably has superior talent and will be at home.
DID YOU KNOW? Running backs coach Ken Browning is working for his fourth coach with the Tar Heels in his 14th season.
By The Numbers
First-round draft picks Davis coached or recruited at Miami.
Tar Heels selected in the first three rounds of the NFL draft from 2003 to '07.
Field goals without a miss by senior Connor Barth.
Attrition under then-coach John Bunting left this program dangerously short of high-caliber veterans. The Tar Heels might be too unstable at quarterback and tailback to compete for a bowl bid.
Sept. 1, James Madison; 8, at East Carolina; 15, Virginia; 22, at South Florida; 29, at Virginia Tech. Oct. 6, Miami; 13, South Carolina; 27, at Wake Forest. Nov. 3, Maryland; 10, at N.C. State; 17, at Georgia Tech; 24, Duke