The North Carolina Tar Heels are looking to improve on their success in 2012 when they finished 8-4 in Larry Fedora‘s first year in Chapel Hill. The Heels weren’t eligible for any postseason accolades due to NCAA sanctions, but they will be this year and they’ll be looking to snag some conference hardware in 2013. That will start with winning the ACC Coastal Division, which they can do thanks to returning quarterback Bryn Renner.
In the ACC in 2013, the Coastal and Atlantic divisions are not created equal. The Atlantic Division has heavyweights and preseason top 25 locks like the Florida State Seminoles and Clemson Tigers to duke it out for the top spot with the North Carolina State Wolfpack trying to make up the ground behind them. It will be difficult to impossible for any of the other teams in the division to crack the top three.
The Coastal Division has no clear favorites and is completely wide open heading into 2013. Three teams tied for the division lead last season with North Carolina, the Miami Hurricanes and Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets finishing with the same conference record of 5-3. Tech, being the only team eligible for the postseason, got the nod for the ACC title game where they were run over by FSU. This year, everyone is eligible and everyone is gunning for a spot in the 2013 ACC Championship.
That’s where Renner’s experience will help North Carolina. The Heels boasted one of the most explosive offenses in the ACC last season, behind only Clemson. They will have to replace some key personnel from that offense, like running back Giovani Bernard and offensive lineman Jonathan Cooper, but they return plenty of talent to compensate, led by their quarterback Renner.
Last season, Renner threw for 3,356 yards with 28 touchdowns in his first season in Fedora’s up-tempo offensive attack. He’ll look to be even better in 2013 with another year of experience and weapons to throw to like Sean Tapley, Eric Ebron, T.J. Thorpe and Quinshad Davis. The running game will be turned over to A.J. Blue and Romar Morris, who should help ease the loss of Bernard next fall.
The Tar Heels will be forced to turn to some new faces in key positions on offense next season, but that will only accentuate the leadership of Renner as he leads this program to the ACC title game in 2013.