The NC State football schedule begins Sept. 2 with a road date at Connecticut. The final game of the season is the annual rivalry showdown with North Carolina. The past two editions have featured thrilling Wolfpack wins, including a double-overtime triumph this past fall.
Here’s an early spring look at the Tar Heels.
North Carolina in 2022
Good fortunes smiled upon North Carolina for most of the 2022 season, but the Heels’ luck appeared to run out by the end of the fall.
A series of close wins against underwhelming opponents saw UNC clinch the Atlantic Division title with weeks to spare and possess a 9-1 overall record, including 6-0 in the ACC. Six of those 9 wins came by 7 points or less, and four of those were vs. teams that finished .500 or worse overall. Only one (Duke) had a winning conference record in its respective league.
To North Carolina’s credit, all six of the wins came on the road.
Then came a visit from Georgia Tech, who had an interim head coach and were playing backup quarterbacks. The Heels blew a 17-0 first half lead and lost 21-17. The following week was the aforementioned double overtime loss to a NC State squad playing its preseason fourth string quarterback.
North Carolina was outclassed by Clemson in the conference title game, 39-10. Potential redemption vs. No. 15 Oregon in the Holiday Bowl eluded UNC when the Ducks scored a game-winning touchdown with 19 seconds left to prevail, 28-27.
UNC finished the year 9-5 overall.
North Carolina is being touted as a likely preseason top 25 team, largely due to the return of potential Heisman candidate Drake Maye at quarterback. Maye was the subject of transfer rumors in the era of the transfer portal and name, image and likeness (NIL), but his return gives the Heels a strong starting point.
UNC head coach Mack Brown made his first coordinator change after Phil Longo accepted a similar position at Wisconsin. Chip Lindsey, who was the head coach at Troy from 2019-21 before spending last year as the offensive coordinator at Central Florida, was hired.
North Carolina was also active in the transfer portal to shore up a depleted receiving corps, landing the No. 13 (Kent State’s Devontez Walker) and No. 29 (Georgia Tech’s Nate McCollum) wideouts in the transfer portal, per On3.
However, the bigger question is can a subpar offensive line improve, and can a struggling defense become respectable. North Carolina was 115th in sacks allowed per game out of 131 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams, and the Heels were 116th in yards per contest surrendered.
UNC brought in 5 transfers to try to shore up the defense.
Overall the Tar Heels are 43rd among FBS teams in returning production, according to stats compiled by ESPN’s analytical guru Bill Connelly.
The post NC State football schedule early snapshot: North Carolina appeared first on On3.