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Football Preview: Linebackers

The Bruce and Quan Show.

That really about sums it up.  UNC returns two outstanding linebackers in the form of Bruce Carter and Quan Sturdivant.  These two alone means the Heels boast a strong corps that will wreak all kinds of havoc, especially if they are cut loose in a changed defensive scheme.  Sturdivant was the Heels' leading tackler last season racking up 122 with 5.5 for a loss and two sacks. Sturdivant also snagged two INTs and was an integral part of the pass defense.  In short Sturdivant was erxtremely effective as a junior and will look to really make a statement in his final season.  Carter also returns after an impressive season that saw him collect 68 tackles, 11 of them for a loss and a team leading five sacks. Carter also invoked chants of "Bruuuccceee" from the Kenan faithful after a streak of four consecutive blocked punts making him the most dangerous player on the field on an opposing team's fourth down.

The weakside linebacker spot is still a question mark.  Zach Brown was listed as the starter on the preseason depth chart but during the course of training camp Kevin Reddick has challenged him for the spot. At this point Butch Davis has said it is too close to call which also has its benefits.  UNC will have some depth at that spot. Since Carter and Sturdivant will be doing most of the heavy lifting, UNC can afford a little weakness in the third spot.  However if either Reddick or Brown really step it up, the Heels will have a trio of quality linebackers.

The issue UNC may run into is if the injury bug bites.  Granted that is a general axiom of college football but UNC has plenty in the way of unknown quanitities in the backup spots at linebacker making health a premium for the Heels. Much like the defensive line, a great deal rides on whether the coaching staff allows the defense to be aggressive.  Sturdivant and Carter both have the potential to be real impact players at linebacker in a game changing sort of way.  In combination with the defensive line, UNC should be able to declare open season in the opposing team's backfield.