In the past decade, UNC has had a decent lineup of quarterbacks. Trubisky, Howell, Williams, and now sitting in the driver's seat for the Tar Heels, Drake Maye. The win against Florida A&M this past weekend kicked off Mack Brown's fourth season back with the Heels, which means, aside of a few redshirt seniors, every player is Brown's recruit.
In college football, in my opinion, is a coach's most important year because that coach recruited most, if not all, players on the roster. There has been a lot of hype going into each season since Brown's return to Carolina, but the last three years have been a little disappointing. After snagging Howell from Florida State in 2018, critics expected UNC to be the team to dethrone Clemson in the ACC. Unfortunately, that has not been the case.
Howell's freshman season, also Coach Mack's first season brought us a bowl win. The first in six years at the time. The Heels finished 7-6 in 2019, with much room for improvement. In 2020, the Heels did just that. For the first time since the 2016 campaign, the Heels would defeat a Top-25 team. This came in week three in a shootout against Virginia Tech, then ranked #19.
2020 was the season UNC was supposed to take over the conference, but Florida State had different plans for the #5 Tar Heels in week four that season. Though Heels fans did not get the season they had hoped for, they did improve on the 2019 season finishing 8-5, beating three Top-25 teams, and making an appearance in the Orange Bowl against #5 Texas A&M. For the Sam Howell era, this would be the best season we would get.
Last season was a major letdown after finishing 6-7 and losing to South Carolina in the Duke's Mayo Bowl. Inconsistency has been driving the fanbase mad this last decade. However, all is not lost. The Heels have not lost to that school in Durham since Brown stepped foot on campus again. Larry Fedora finished 2-5 against the Blue Devils.
I promise I'm getting to Drake Maye soon, but first, we have to talk about the season of Mitch Trubisky. In 2016, the Heels finished 8-5 with notable wins against a #12 Florida State and a #16 Miami. Even though that season did have some impressive wins, the Heels would still lose to Duke. They'd cap off the season losing in the Sun Bowl against Christian McCaffery's #16 Stanford. Like most seasons, the Heels would win some shocking games and lose games they should have won. Again, the inconsistency is driving the fanbase mad.
Now let's step into this season. As I mentioned before, this is the most important season for Mack Brown. This is the team he built from the bottom up, and it is time to put it to the test.
According to 24/7 Sports, UNC is one class away from being a Top-15 team for its Blue Chip Ratio. Statistically, teams with a high BCR do well.
Clemson is the only team in the ACC that cracks the Top-15 in BCR and UNC is the only other ACC team mentioned by 24/7 Sports to have a high BCR.
Maye was originally committed to Alabama before Brown worked his magic and convinced the Myers Park Graduate to attend the same school his brother represented. Between Trubisky, Howell, and Maye, Maye was rated the highest. With the team built around him, I fully expect this season to be one of the Top-3 seasons the Tar Heels have had since the turn of the century.
This year, Carolina's schedule is low-key a gauntlet. This weekend they will face another in-state rival, Appalachian State, who always puts up a good fight. Then, two weeks later, they'll host a Notre Dame team currently ranked #5. Currently, four more teams on Carolina's schedule are ranked. #16 Miami, #17 Pitt, #22 Wake Forest, and #13 NC State, who may have the best quarterback in the conference.
This UNC team is good, and this could be a very rewarding season for Brown, Maye, and the Heels, but only time will tell if the inconsistency can be polished over.