Man, I hope Athlon is way off about Carolina football.
Want to get depressed? Pick up a copy of Athlon’s preseason ACC football guide. If you are a Tar Heel fan with a weak heart, don’t bother. Let me give you the overview.
The Tar Heels have dropped from those 19 wins in 2015 and ’16 almost off the charts, according to Athlon. Much has to do with last season’s 3-9 record and not a lot of high-profile visible changes for the 2018 campaign.
The real eye-opener for me was that Larry Fedora has gone from one of the hottest college coaches in the country to the coach on the hottest seat in the ACC, according to three out of the four Athlon experts. The one who did not pick the Fed said Pitt’s Pat Narduzzi had better get some asbestos underwear. But the Panthers are also picked as a sleeper in the Coastal division.
In Athlon’s so-called unit rankings, the NC logo does not show up once in all of the categories – from Best Running Backs, to Best Wide Receivers, to O-line, D-line, Linebackers and D-backs. Not a single interlocking NC anywhere. Even Duke has a mention for having the third-best LBs in the ACC, according to one of the Athlon experts. And Virginia is in there once for defensive backs, even though the Cavaliers are predicted to finish last in the Coastal, right behind the Heels.
N.C. State is getting a lot of mention, picked to finish third in the Atlantic Division behind perennial powers Clemson and FSU. The Wolfpack has Ryan Finley back at QB, but lost a lot more than Bradley Chubb on defense. So we’ll see how that works out. I typed North Carolina into the search bar, and it came up seven times. One of them had to be the name in the Coastal standings, where the Heels are supposedly going 2-6 in the league and 4-8 overall, two games worse than the Dukies.
NC shows up three times for Fedora being on the hot seat, and three times in the shortest overview of the entire article. Athlon wonders whether Nathan Elliott or Chaz Surratt will start at quarterback. Heck, my dog is barking out that question lately.
So what does Athlon know that we don’t about the 2018 Heels? Or what does Fedora know that Athlon doesn’t?
I sure hope a whole helluva lot on the latter.