How the Tar Heels fared in 2004: 6-6 overall, 5-3 Atlantic Coast Conference
(Links to USA Today game stories)
Sept 4 – NORTH CAROLINA 49, William & Mary 38
Sept. 11 – VIRGINIA 56, North Carolina 24
Sept. 18 – NORTH CAROLINA 34, Georgia Tech 13
Sept. 25 – Louisville 34, NORTH CAROLINA 0
Oct. 2 – FLORIDA STATE 38, North Carolina 16
Oct. 9 – NORTH CAROLINA 30, North Carolina State 24
Oct. 16 – UTAH 46, North Carolina 16
Oct. 30 – NORTH CAROLINA 31, Miami (Fla.) 28
Nov. 6 – Virginia Tech 27, NORTH CAROLINA 24
Nov. 13 – North Carolina 31, WAKE FOREST 24
Nov. 20 – North Carolina 40, DUKE 17
Dec. 30 – Boston College 37, North Carolina 24 (at the Continental Tire Bowl in Charlotte, N.C.)
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Sept. 10 – at Georgia Tech
Sept. 17 – WISCONSIN
Sept. 24 – at North Carolina State
Oct. 1 – UTAH
Oct. 8 – at Louisville
Oct. 22 – VIRGINIA
Oct. 29 – at Miami (Fla.)
Nov. 5 – BOSTON COLLEGE
Nov. 12 – MARYLAND
Nov. 19 – DUKE
Nov. 26 – at Virginia Tech
Starters returning: 16 (5 offense, 9 defense, 2 kickers)
Coach John Bunting: Entering his 10th season as a head coach, and fifth at the helm of the Tar Heels, Bunting is 57-44-2 (North Carolina, Division III Glassboro State). He is 19-30 at North Carolina. Prior to arriving at UNC, he spent eight years as an NFL assistant coach with the Kansas City Chiefs, St. Louis Rams and New Orleans Saints.
Stadium: Kenan Stadium
Versus Wisconsin: The Badgers are 1-0-0 against the Tar Heels, with the 38-27 win coming at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Sept. 20, 2003. Tailback Booker Stanley, then a redshirt freshman, rushed for 119 yards and three touchdowns in the first extensive action of his career. Wisconsin quarterback Jim Sorgi threw two touchdown passes and was 12 of 20 for 193 yards.
Tar Heels 2004 in brief
North Carolina did better than just about anyone expected last season, finishing tied for third in the ACC with a 5-3 conference mark.
After punishing losses to Louisville and Florida State, the Tar Heels were sitting at 2-3 overall, with a treacherous four-game stretch up next. But UNC sandwiched a blowout loss to Utah with a win over North Carolina State and a stunning upset of No. 4 Miami (Fla.). The Tar Heels likely would have taken Virginia Tech to overtime, but a late-game sack pushed the tying field goal attempt back to 54 yards and the Hokies prevailed 27-24.
The Tar Heels, though, closed the regular season with two wins to earn a bowl berth.
Senior quarterback Darian Durant carried the offense, throwing for 2,238 yards and 17 touchdowns, against just nine interceptions. He was UNC's career record holder in passing yards, touchdown passes, total offense and completions before his senior season began and he finished his career with a remarkable 8,755 passing yards, 9,630 total yards, 68 touchdown passes and 701 completions.
While the Durant-led offense was respectable, the defense was horrid. The Tar Heels gave up more yards and points per game than any other ACC team and were ranked among the 10 worst in the nation in total defense and rushing defense.
Looking ahead to 2005
The good news on defense is that the Tar Heels return nine starters, plus 2003 starter defensive tackle Chase Page, who may be the team's best defensive player. With all that experience UNC has to expect improvement and they will desperately need it. It is unlikely that the Tar Heels could again give up nearly 450 yards and more than 30 points a game and match last season's .500 record.
This is especially true when the offense has to replace many of its horses, particularly Durant, and the team faces a rather intimidating schedule that includes non-conference challenges in Wisconsin, Utah and Louisville, in addition to a daunting ACC slate.
Durant's replacement, senior Matt Baker, should be fine. And despite the offseason injury that has sidelined McGill, the running game should still be productive behind a veteran offensive line.