Everyone who watched any considerable amount of UNC football last year knows just how painful the season was. The likely historic way that injuries piled up pushed the team into using players who may not have been ready for starting roles and it showed week in and week out. As the encore to a promising season that faded down the stretch, it’s understandable that a lot of people were disenchanted by the product on the field.
However, feelings about last season seem to be spilling over into prognostications for the 2018 season before the Tar Heels even play a game. While there is definitely reason for pessimism present, there is also reason to believe this year will be better than last. It would be very difficult for Carolina to face the same level of injuries sustained last year, if nothing else.
Of course, this year we have the issue of suspensions following players selling their team-issued shoes that will keep the Heels from being at full-strength when the season kicks off against Cal over Labor Day weekend. It’s another piece of bad optics for a program that desperately needs some positive news. Still, UNC should have the personnel to weather the storm better than they were able to with season-ending injury after season-ending injury a year ago.
This has not stopped pretty much everyone from being way down on the Heels’ chances this year. While confidence in the program probably needs to be proven in results, the people making predictions for the season are just taking shots in the dark. Educated shots in the dark, maybe, but shots in the dark nonetheless. Is it really that difficult to squint and see how UNC may be at least 2-3 games better than last year at a minimum? The team that held fourth quarter leads in so many games before the defense couldn’t hold up a depleted and sometimes anemic offense should almost be better by default, yet people don’t seem to agree.
Admittedly, last season was rough for fans who don’t live and die with football. There will likely always be that complaint when it comes to Carolina athletics. For even the fairest of fair weather fans, though, it should be obvious that prognosticators are likely more down on UNC’s chances this season than is warranted. Maybe that is wishful August thinking talking and it’ll look foolish two months from now, but it doesn’t seem that far fetched.
The fact of the matter is that last year was last year. Barring some kind of conspiracy that should absolutely be investigated, UNC should not have nearly as many issues keeping bodies on the field this season. If that and only that is true, this season should be more successful than last year, even if it’s not the success we’d all like it to be. People making these predictions are not Carolina fans and aren’t in the business of seeing through light blue colored glasses, but the opposite shouldn’t be true either. Give these new Tar Heels a fair shake when it comes to figuring out what they might be capable of.