The North Carolina Tar Heels are now 11-1 going into the ACC Championship Game. Nobody thought the Tar Heels would have a season like this, but they have proved everyone wrong. After a tough loss the first game of the season, the Tar Heels have went on an amazing 11 game winning streak.
The Tar Heels strength of schedule (SOS) has not been strong, but to their credit, they have won almost every game this season. After winning this weekend against North Carolina State, they are heading into the ACC Championship Game undefeated in conference play. One of the biggest reasons why the Tar Heels are having such a successful season is because of their defense.
New Defensive Coordinator Gene Chizik has come in and turned this defense around. He installed a more traditional 4-3 defense that has been easier for players to grasp. In 2014, the team gave up 38.9 points per game (ppg) and ranked 119th in the country. This year, the team has only given up 19.5 ppg and ranked 21st in the country. That is significant improvement.
The top players on defense are S Donnie Miles (Team Tackles Leader), DE Mikey Bart (Team Sacks Leader), CB M.J. Stewart (Team Interceptions Leader), and Senior Leaders LB Jeff Schoettmer and LB Shakeel Rashad. Another big reason for the Tar Heels success is the balance attack on offense.
Last year, the team was pass heavy, but this year the team has done a great job at keeping it balanced with a strong running game. As a result this team is ranked 11th in the country scoring at 41.3 ppg.
The top players on offense are Seniors QB Marquise Williams and WR Quinshad Davis as well as RB Elijah Hood, WR Mack Hollins, and WR Ryan Switzer. The only tough offense game was the first game of the season against South Carolina when Marquise Williams threw three interceptions. With North Carolina’s top ranked offense and Clemson’s top ranked defense this ACC Championship Game is going to be fun to watch. Both teams have been on amazing winning streaks despite struggles and adversity.
The team with the advantage is Clemson because they are ranked #1 and have a stronger SOS. North Carolina may seem like the underdog, but they have a chance to win this game.
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Ben Sudderth III
Spark Sports NCAA/NFL Analyst