The common national belief about the upcoming UNC football season is that it will be a rebuilding year for the Tar Heels. It’s not a false statement. They lost Mitch Trubisky, two really good running backs, and nearly all of the receiving corps just on the offensive side alone.
The 2017 season will probably be a “rebuilding” one. UNC also might possibly have lucked out on its rebuilding year falling at the perfectly right time.
For one, it’s not unreasonable to think that Carolina’s offense could still be good this season. Yes, they’re replacing a ton. However, the Tar Heels’ offense has almost always been good under Larry Fedora. It might not be as great as it was in 2015, or at times in 2016, but it’s not unreasonable to think it will good at the very least.
Also, North Carolina are far from the only team in the ACC Coastal Division to replace major pieces, especially quarterbacks.
Virginia Tech lost Jerod Evans. Miami lost Brad Kaaya. Pitt not only lost Nathan Peterman but also James Conner. Georgia Tech have a new starting QB, which always has the potential to be dicey with an option team. Even Virginia have a new starting QB. The only team returning their starting quarterback is Duke, who despite beating UNC, only finished sixth in the division last year.
Other than Virginia, North Carolina will probably be underdogs or slight favorites in all those games against teams replacing quarterbacks. If UNC is expected to go through growing pains, there’s no reason to think the rest of them won’t also experience some too.
Coastal teams aren’t the only ones with question marks on the Tar Heels’ schedule either. Cal will be playing in the first game under a new coach when they play UNC in the opener. They also probably won’t be that good anyway.
Notre Dame was probably a bit better than their 4-8 record last season. However, looking at it from the outside, Brian Kelly doesn’t look like the world’s most secure coach. If things start bad again this year, who knows what things will look like by the time they get to the UNC game. They are also replacing a highly rated quarterback.
The other two non--conference games should be fairly straight forward and winnable.
All of this is not to say that UNC will for sure be good in 2017. It’s also not unreasonable to think that all the losses on offense will hurt them. They were picked to finish fifth in the Coastal this season. That could definitely happen.
However, the openings are there. This schedule won’t be easy, but it’s also not nine losses guaranteed or anything like that. At least in pure win-loss total, 2017 might not be as big of a step back as some people expect.