At least not in the most important statistic: wins.
Don’t get me wrong. UNC football coach Butch Davis has the gears in motion for churning out competitive ACC teams for years to come, but with the current pieces in place, the Tar Heels’ season will be eerily familiar to last season.
Two cake walks against Georgia Southern and the Citadel — at least they should be cake walks — are about the only favorable part of Carolina’s upcoming schedule. A trip to the revenge-minded Connecticut Huskies and a rematch with the feisty ECU Pirates rounds out the non-conference slate.
Carolina plays a much more difficult ACC schedule in 2009 with trips to ACC foes Georgia Tech, with the dangerous backfield of Josh Nesbitt and Jonathan Dwyer, Virginia Tech, who repeatedly teases UNC with victory, Boston College and in-state rival N.C. State.
And to top it all off, Miami and Florida State visit Chapel Hill, with the latter being a Thursday night game — the first of its kind hosted at UNC.
Based on the schedule, 7-9 regular season wins should be about right. But what could swing this team into ACC crown contention?
Davis is bringing in one of the nation’s best recruiting classes, which should add depth to the defense and the offensive line. But most importantly, a plethora of wide receiver recruits will enter a depleted corp after losing Hakeem Nicks, Brooks Foster and Brandon Tate to the NFL draft.
On defense, Carolina should be just fine with Marvin Austin and the top-rated defensive end recruit Donte Moss coming to town to terrorize opposing offensive lines along with a secondary that intercepted 20 passes in 2008-09 — although, seven of those picks were by Trimane Goddard, who ended his eligibility last season.
The problem will be with offensive consistency. A healthy T.J. Yates and an improved running game won’t be enough to thrust UNC into the ACC championship game, but if recruits like Jheranie Boyd and Joshua Adams shine, this could be a fun season for Tar Heel fans.