Last season, the North Carolina Tar Heels were undone by one of the worst defenses in the country. As they try and regroup for this season, they will have to do without the services of veteran cornerback Malik Simmons after the team suspended him indefinitely following his second arrest since May.
According to Chapel Hill police, Simmons was arrested early Wednesday morning and charged with resisting arrest. He is currently due to appear in court on August 3 following an arrest on May 16 for charges of misdemeanor possession of marijuana. According to police reports, Simmons was under the influence at the time of his latest incident. The team announced on Friday that Simmons would be suspended from all team activities indefinitely.
The loss of Simmons could be a big one for a Tar Heel defense searching for answers this offseason. As a junior in 2014, Simmons appeared in 12 games last season, starting five, recording 34 tackles with pass breakups and a forced fumble. Coming out of the spring, Simmons appeared to be in a position to challenge for a starting cornerback position this season in Gene Chizik‘s new defense.
With Simmons unavailable, the North Carolina secondary loses an able body that they can’t really afford to give up. Last season, the Tar Heels ranked as the worst defense in the ACC, allowing 497.8 yards per game. A major part of that was their pass defense which allowed an ACC-worst 257.4 yards per game through the air, allowing a league-high 31 touchdowns. Having experienced players in the back end of the defense would have been a huge boost to the Heels’ defensive rebuild and losing Simmons is undoubtedly going to sting.
As North Carolina attempts to make a run in the ACC in 2015, will the absence of Malik Simmons be a stumbling block the defense can avoid?