CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - North Carolina's defense has much room for growth. The statistics show it, and the Tar Heel players and coaches echo that sentiment.
But if there is a glimmer of hope, it can be found in a pass rush that is showing some improvement.
North Carolina averaged 1.6 sacks per game in 2015, but this season the Heels are up to 2.3 per game, with sophomore Malik Carney leading the team with 2.5, including what should have been a game-changing sack at Florida State.
Defensive backs coach Charlton Warren says this improvement is a result of a better understanding of roles and becoming more comfortable within the framework of the defense. Linebacker Andre Smith sees it as evidence of successful teamwork.
Regardless, it's indeed a sign of growth for a unit that must grow up in order to fare better. With each week the defenders continue to gain more experience, and hope that results in a more stable, reliable showing.