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UNC football: Midseason update on preseason awards

Looking back to our preseason predictions and looking forward to the last half of the season.

NCAA Football: North Carolina at Georgia Tech Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Before preseason camp was fully finished, we took a poll that outlined the expectations of this season. You can revisit that poll here. Since we’ve reached the halfway point of the season, let’s take a look back and see what we predicted correctly and where we went wrong.

Offensive Player of the Year:

Brandon Harris and Austin Proehl were the clear-cut favorites for this award. Neither are playing. Proehl is out for the season from an injury sustained during the Duke game. Harris has been used extremely sparingly and has faltered in each of his appearances. Stanton Truitt also received votes, but we haven’t seen the transfer running back because of lingering injuries.

Surprisingly, Anthony Ratliff-Williams and Chazz Surratt both received votes and both have turned into the number one option at their respective positions. At this point in the season, they would have to get the nod for this award. With 256 yards on 16 catches, Ratliff-Williams has emerged as the go-to receiver in the absence of Proehl, Jackson, and Fritts. Surratt solidified his starting role during the first two weeks against Cal and Louisville. At this halfway point, he has completed nearly 60% of his passes for 1,167 yards and rushed for 179 yards.

Offensive Rookie of the Year:

Michael Carter ran away with this one, but may be losing his grip. His best games came against Cal (11 rushes for 94 yards) and Old Dominion (14 rushes for 68 yards). Interestingly, those are his only games with double digit rushes and more than 25 yards. Carter has also added five touchdowns this season, but those were all within the first three games. He has not seen much action since the Old Dominion game, only garnering 15 rushes for 54 yards. Has Jordon Brown officially become the feature back in this version of the offense? Has Chazz Surratt done enough to take this distinction away from Carter?

Defensive Player of the Year:

M.J. Stewart and Andre Smith were both poised to lead a defense that seemed to be on the brink of greatness. This season has been anything but great. Smith suffered an injury in the early part of the season and hasn’t played since the Louisville game. Stewart has 22 total tackles, four for loss and two sacks. He also has six pass breakups, which leaves him only six short of the UNC career record. Although he is having a good season, there are other options that could snag this away from him.

Cayson Collins is EVERYWHERE on the field. He has racked up 34 solo tackles, assisted on 15 more, and two sacks. Myles Dorn has doubled last season’s interception total on his own. There are others contributing, as well, so Stewart may need a stellar second half of a season to secure this spot.

Defensive Rookie of the Year:

Tomon Fox and Jake Lawler took the top spots in our preseason poll. Fox has been steady throughout the season, totaling 11 tackles and a sack. Lawler hasn’t seen much action and has no listed stats. Myles Wolfolk is on the same pace as Fox with 11 total tackles along with a highlight interception and two pass breakups. Dazz Newsome received a few votes, but he has since moved to wide receiver where he showed off his quickness and athleticism against Louisville.

Overall Player of the Year:

Brandon Harris won this over Austin Proehl, Andre Smith, and M.J. Stewart. We’ve already discussed their seasons, so I want to hear from you. Who do you think is the Midseason POY?

Regular Season Prediction:

For the most part, fans were optimistic. Many thought seven to nine wins was the cap for this team and no one picked them to win less than five games. At best, North Carolina could finish with a 7-5 overall record (5-3 ACC) and a chance at a bowl game. However, the chances of that happening are almost zero.

Postseason Predictions:

Almost everyone thought that this team would make it to a bowl. See above for the probability of that happening.

Who has been your offensive and defensive players of the year, so far? Which freshman are you keeping your eye on to finish the season strong? How many wins can the Tar Heels squeeze out of their remaining six games? Let’s hear you in the comments!