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The time is almost here when fans echo school spirit songs, and some players get to throw on their college threads for the first time. This upcoming 2022 season will be vital for the UNC football program as they look to bounce back from their 6-7 finish last season.
Heading into this year the pressure isn’t nearly as high with UNC not ranking in the top 10 of the preseason polls. UNC still will have pressure to compete in the Atlantic Coastal Conference, but the hype from last season is significantly down.
With spring practice coming to an end, ESPN went back and looked at a few key things for each ACC team. For the Tar Heels, this is what they listed what UNC needs to learn by week one.
What we need to learn by Week 1: Who is the quarterback? Sam Howell was such a large part of the offensive production a year ago; replacing him won’t be easy. Offensive coordinator Phil Longo must make a choice between Drake Maye and Jacolby Criswell, and the competition between the two will stretch into fall camp. Hand-in-hand with that is improving the offensive line, which struggled last season. Jack Bicknell replaced Stacy Searles, and the biggest advantage he brings is a familiarity with both Longo and the offensive scheme he likes to run. Getting these two groups squared away is obviously a huge key headed into the season.
Establishing who will be the new QB1 is step one in learning what the UNC football program can do this year. Both Maye and Criswell fit the mold of what it is to be a Tar Heel, but the Howell size cleats to fill won’t be an easy one.
The other step seeing how well the new-look offensive line will hold up with the losses of Joshua Ezeudu, Marcus McKethan, and Jordan Tucker. Finding that balance and leadership on the offensive line to open holes for UNCs aggressive run attack could be the difference-maker if another 6-7 season is repeated.
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