Crossing Enemy Lines: Blogger Q&A with Brian Barbour of Tar Heel Blog

Jeremy Brevard-US PRESSWIRE

Over the course of the season, we'll generally be running blogger Q&A exchanges with bloggers representing each week's opponent. This week, we're chatting with Brian Barbour of the fine SB Nation community Tar Heel Blog. Below, you'll see what Brian had to say in response to my questions. Questions are in bold. Check the Tar Heel Blog soon for my answers to Brian's questions.

1. Last year, a porous defense was UNC's Achilles heel. Coming into this season, what do you perceive as UNC's strengths and weaknesses on defense? To what extent, if any, will this year's defense be improved? How will it perform against South Carolina?

The defense this season won't lack experience. Most of the position are filled by upperclassmen with some notable youth on the depth chart at strong safety. The defensive line will be anchored by the last in a string of Butch Davis recruits on that unit. Kareem Martin is hoping to follow in the footsteps (on the field anyway) of Marvin Austin, Robert Quinn, Quinton Coples and Sylvester Williams who all went high in the NFL Draft. The question marks are still there especially in the secondary, mainly because the pass defense had so many issues last season. Tre Boston is getting plenty of hype at free safety on the strength of leading the team in tackles and collecting four picks last season. However, anyone who watched Boston consistently saw a player who routinely was either beaten or in the wrong place. His play will need to greatly improve The linebackers are also fairly green with UNC needing to replace Kevin Reddick who graduated.

The real question facing the defense is whether last season's failures were related to players trying to grasp a new system, the wrong parts for the system in place or a general lack of talent. The answer to that is unclear but what we do know is Vic Koenning has built great defenses everywhere he has gone. It would be surprising if he didn't do the same in Chapel Hill and the hope is there are signs of that right out of the gate.

2. Other than Clowney, name the South Carolina player you most wish you could have playing for UNC. How could that player help the Tar Heels?

Since the Tar Heel secondary has had so many issues, it wouldn't hurt to have Jimmy Legree and his three interceptions added to the mix.

3. How will this game go down? Score prediction?

The biggest question for me is how the North Carolina offense and South Carolina defense react to one another. Can North Carolina do what it needs to do on offense at the tempo Larry Fedora wants to run? How will the offensive line, which has been rebuilt following the loss of some excellent talent, respond against Clowney? What will UNC's running game look like in the post-Gio Bernard era? Can Bryn Renner start this season playing as well as he did at the end of the last one? I firmly believe UNC will depend more on its offense to win games than the defense so in my mind how the offense holds up will dictate UNC's chances.  My gut feeling is UNC makes some dents early but South Carolina ultimately gets enough stops and musters the necessary offense to win 26-20.
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