Why Some Believe UNC Has the ACC’s Best CB’s

It’s not hyperbolic to say that in 2014 North Carolina’s defense was a disaster. That season, the Tar Heels gave up an average of 6.53 yards per play, which ranked 117th in the nation; they also gave up nearly 500 yards per game of total offense (497.8 yards, to be exact). They weren’t a bend-but-don’t-break team, either. The 2014 Tar Heels were No. 119 in scoring defense, tied with Colorado at 39 points per game.

That changed, however, in 2015. UNC allowed just 24.5 points per game — an improvement of better than two touchdowns. North Carolina’s defense posted an S&P+ rating of 28.5 (67nd in the nation), per Football Outsiders, which was a significant improvement over 2014: 33.6 (99th in the nation). (S&P+ is a weighted statistic used to measure both efficiency and explosiveness.) Defensive coordinator Gene Chizik, in his first year in Chapel Hill, got a lot of the credit for that quantum leap in the right direction. It would be remiss, though, to not also mention they drastically improved play of cornerbacks M.J. Stewart and Des Lawrence.

To read more Des Lawrence and M.J. Stewart, UNC’s dynamic cornerbacks, sign up for basic access to ACCSports.com.