If North Carolina Tar Heels head coach Larry Fedora had been stressing one issue throughout spring practice, it’s been getting as much as he can out of his defense. This task has proven to be quite daunting so far, especially given the fact that they are moving on this year without their top two leaders in Sylvester Williams and Kevin Reddick.
To replace this leadership void, Carolina and staff should look to senior defensive end Kareem Martin to step up to the plate.
In terms of total yardage given up per game, the Heels finished last season ranked 56th out of 120. While this stat isn’t completely horrendous, there’s certainly a lot of room for improvement. Fundamentally, improvement on the defensive side of the ball starts up front.
With the Tar Heels going into year two in the 4-2-5 defensive scheme, more emphasis has to be put on Martin and the rest of his defensive mates getting pressure right off the ball. In most games last season, Carolina’s main problem was controlling the line of scrimmage. They had difficulties getting to the QB at times as well as stopping the run outside of the box.
Impressive play from Kareem Martin is the first step of making this defense a credible force in the ACC. The four-year starter will certainly need to beef up his numbers a bit from last season which included 19 total tackles and just four sacks. The sacks statistic is the one that really needs to balloon a bit.
There are a wealth of younger players on the defensive line along side of him that can certainly help this defense progress throughout the season. But, Martin is the one that needs to be steering the ship.