April 21, 2003
Spring 2003 OverviewThe PooP
Third-year coach John Bunting earned a lot of credit for his surprising 8-5 debut in 2001, and most observers understood the talent/injury woes that contributed to last year's 3-9 performance. Still suffering from the poor recruiting and high attrition that took place during the horrendous three-year Carl Torbush era (1998-2000), the Tar Heels face another difficult challenge and another tough schedule this season. The talent remains pretty average in Chapel Hill, and the team's lack of muscle/toughness showed up repeatedly in the running game (offense and defense) last fall. The Carolina football culture definitely is improving under Bunting, but probably not quickly enough for big things in 2003.
Probable 2003 Starters
* returning starter
+ injured/missed spring drills
Coming On Strong
With almost everyone back on the offensive line and some promising new tailbacks, UNC has a chance to control the ball, eat the clock and pile up enough points to take some pressure off a rebuilding defense. (That also was the plan in 2002, but it never materialized.) Rock-solid returning starters: OL Jason Brown, QB Darian Durant, PK Dan Orner, FS Dexter Reid, OL Jeb Terry, CB Michael Waddell. Also looking good: TE Bobby Blizzard, CB Cedrick Holt, RB Ronnie McGill, WR Jarwarski Pollock, RB Chad Scott.
Cause For Concern?
Carolina's inability to stop the run last season became a wicked poison that seeped into and damaged every other aspect of the program, and there are no obvious stars in this year's defensive front seven. Other than quarterback, that's the worst place to be shaky, and there are no easy answers. Also: catch-or-run playmakers, backup quarterback, depth almost everywhere, punter.
On The Sidelines
The following players missed all or most of spring drills: FB Rikki Cook (knee), DT Chase Page (hamstring), OL Arthur Smith (foot), LB Victor Worsley (shoulder).
The following scholarship athletes left the program in the past 12-18 months with eligibility remaining: WR Bosley Allen (dismissed/before 2002 season), OL Justin Barton (medical), DE Will Chapman (medical), OL Whit Efird (transfer/Catawba), OL Riko Feemster (transfer/before 2002 season), DT Darryl Grant (chose to graduate), QB Terrance Highsmith (dismissed), DE Larry Jessup (medical), LB Kitwana Jones (dismissed/before 2002 season), QB Aaron Leak (dismissed/before 2002 season), WR Harry Lewis (academics), DB Bryant Macklin (dismissed), WR Isaiah Robinson (chose to graduate), DT Carl Smalls (deceased), OL Marcus Wilson (chose to graduate).