The head coach knows. At least, he thinks he does, and he may be right; insofar as anyone can really know. The coordinators know, their plans laid out and packages being installed to get ready for the season. The position coaches know, at least as far as the view can show them from the part of the field where their position group works in the summer heat. Everyone in the program knows, at some level. They all know what this team is capable of, in any given year, and this year is no exception. Everyone knows what pieces have to fall into place, or what positions are stronger than others, or what the schedule looks like in terms of opponents and practice opportunities in between.
The knowing can only get you so far, though. A coach can know what a team is capable of, but that knowledge is dependent on a lot of educated guesses about team health, opponent quality, and a hundred other things that are impossible to forecast. A coaching staff may know that a player is set up to have a breakout year, but also will have to think about what happens if that player suffers an injury in the early season and is forced to watch from the sidelines. This balance between the thinking and the knowing is maybe the most important part of the weeks preceding the season, and a successful season or a letdown can hinge on the way a coaching staff and team responds to this type of knowledge gathering.
We don’t yet know who will start under center this season for the Tar Heels. These summer sessions are golden opportunities for the team to gain more data points to gain this knowledge, and once we have a named starter we can start to think about the future in new terms. We don’t know what the ceiling is for this season; it seems to be harder to forecast than last season, and the majority of folks thought wrong of last year’s team anyway.
We traffic in uncertainties in the offseason; that’s the way it is. The fun of the weeks preceding the season are so fun in part because we get to think wild things about the coming games without having to worry about immediately being proven wrong; the thinking is sometimes more fun than the knowing.
For my part, I’m just thinking fondly of being back in Kenan Stadium with 50,000 of my closest friends. I know that will be a good time, and in a few weeks we’ll know even more about the 2022 Tar Heel football team.