TB Ronnie McGill

2004 Statistics

Coach: John Bunting
19-30, 4 years
2004 Record: 6-6
at Virginia LOST 24-56
at Florida State LOST 16-38
at Utah LOST 16-46
at Wake Forest WON 31-24
at Duke WON 40-17
vs. Boston College LOST 24-37

2004 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2005 Outlook

2004 has to be considered a good season - sure, the defense was terrible and the Tar Heels managed only a 6-6 record, but they also qualified for a (Continental Tire) bowl, their first postseason appearance since '01. That, despite being picked to finish near the bottom of the ACC (went 2-10 in '03), means motivation is not missing from John Bunting's approach there in Chapel Hill. UNC has gone just 19-30 in four years under Bunting, but they did show great improvement towards the end of last campaign (first four losses were by a total of 118 points, while the last two were by only 16). That more competitive trend will only continue.

This offseason wasn't all rosy, though, as receiver Adarius Bowman and defensive tackle Isaiah Thomas were both dismissed. DE Terry Hunter is also suspended from through spring practice, and his return is in doubt. But when the Tar Heels don't let those distractions get in their way, they will become stronger, bonding under the awareness that each has to step up that much more, even before fall, to compensate. Confidence from beating the Canes still carries throughout this squad, especially with Sanders now their leader. But an ever-toughening conference poses an even higher level of play needed just to compete, let alone win, another bar-raising reality that will only strengthen this group's resolve.

They return enough starters (14) so that making more strides is an eventuality, especially on D. Their new coordinator will make sure of it. On offense, the new QB(s) will assuredly surprise the early foes, as either Baker or Heinz will only need to shake-and-bake minimally to grease these Heels right across the turf. Due to a strong line, the running game will click even better, exemplifying how that "team play" we speak of will be the main, central element that gets talent levels - similar to those of the last group - to achieve that much more. All of the raw talent has been there, so this is a watershed year for coach Bunting.

After playing the 11th-toughest schedule (see our SOS from 2004's preview), eight bowl teams cover their slate, but six of those games will be played in Chapel Hill, including three of the last four. The results could range anywhere from almost breaking even again to surprising with nine wins. But bank on this unpredictable, upstart squad to beat a few they shouldn't, and lose a few in the same way.

The Chapel Hill faithful may justifiably be happy only with wins, but true fans of the game here will realize UNC's progress via the team's unit rankings signal that a much higher level of team play is becoming a regularity, and this has been the foundation that has been missing for progressive UNC success. We hate to point to next year when previewing these Heels, but such is life for a program still learning what it takes to be a top 25 team. The "next level" is coming soon to picturesque Kenan Stadium, just not quite quick enough for those waiting since 1997's 11-1 effort for another true winner. Now, where would you rather have Hurricanes slam into you, there or down in Miami, hmmm? (Meteorological metaphor…sorry, we couldn't resist.)

Projected 2005 record: 4-7
QB - 3 DL - 2.5
RB - 3.5 LB - 2.5
WR - 3.5 DB - 2.5
OL - 3.5 ..

Passing: Matt Baker, 36-23-2, 326 yds., 1 TD

Rushing: Ronnie McGill, 79 att., 419 yds., 5 TD

Receiving: Jesse Holley, 30 rec., 456 yds., 2 TD

Scoring: Connor Barth, 14-18 FG, 35-37 PAT, 77 pts.

Punting: David Wooldridge, 48 punts, 41.7 avg.

Kicking: Connor Barth, 14-18 FG, 35-37 PAT, 77 pts.

Tackles: Kareen Taylor, 67 tot., 36 solo; Tommy Richardson, 67 tot., 39 solo

Sacks: Hilee Taylor, 4.5 sacks

Interceptions: Larry Edwards, 2 for 56 yds.; Jacoby Watkins, 2 for 0 yds.

Kickoff returns: Mike Mason, 22 ret., 23.1 avg., 0 TD

Punt returns: Quinton Person, 4 ret., 6.8 avg., 0 TD


OT Brian Chacos
OFFENSE: Darian Durant-QB, Madison Hedgecock-FB, Chad Scott-TB, Jacque Lewis-RB, Jocques Dumas-TE, Scott Brumett-TE, Jason Brown-C, Willie McNeill-OT
DEFENSE: Jonas Seawright-DT, Lionell Green-CB, Gerald Sensabaugh-SS, Fred Sparkman-LB

For three years, Matt Baker sat behind Darian Durant, waiting. In limited playing time during his career, Baker has progressed well (63.9% completion rate in '04). Baker has a strong arm and good size, but he doesn't have quite the mobility Durant had. The fifth-year senior does, however, have the most experience in the UNC program, which gives him the nod, but he has much to prove since winning his state's prep title (Michigan). The opposition will be on him from Day One to see if he can produce, and he will handle the pressure well for the offense to be effective. There are three capable players behind him. Sophomore Roger Heinz has got great confidence in his ability to be the man when given a chance - his teammates voted him "the player most likely to become a coach" to show his approach and grasp of the system. Redshirt freshman Joey Bozich has more size, while true freshman Cameron Sexton has super speed, so dimensions are available here depending on what the offense stresses. A strong unit once developed.

Running Back
The strength of the Carolina offense is the running game (ranked 31st). The Tar Heels rode a trio of talented backs, but only one of them returns - Ronnie McGill. This size-speed combo-unit has battled injuries throughout his career, but an impressive spring means he is secure as the starter. He is big and strong enough (weight room demon) to carry it 200+ times if needed. LSU-transfer Barrington Edwards was good enough in the spring to earn playing time with the first team, a great sign. Edwards is similar in size to McGill, and, like his backfield mate, has the dual ability to power for tough yards as he simultaneously avoids tacklers with his quickness. Soft-handed FB Rikki Cook is as good as having another lineman in the backfield. Animated Richard Rich is a highly recruited true frosh who offers lightning (4.4 40-speed) in contrast to so much thunder. Due to a slightly less mobile QB causing fewer distractions, this unit will excel, but not quite at 2004's clip.

The top four UNC receivers all return. Jesse Holley is the centerpiece now after three months on the amazing Tar Heel basketball squad. This former-guard has the personality to carry over his successes, meaning Adarius Bowman's dismissal (for 0.2 ounces of pot) will have minimal impact, though this deep threat was their designated field-stretcher. Senior Derrele Mitchell, much like Holley in terms of size and speed, will join him to open things up underneath. Jarwarski Pollock is the reliable one underneath. He doesn't have the size or speed of his teammates, but he'll get open and move the chains. Mike Mason (4.3 40-speed) and Wallace Wright have both made dazzling catches in the past and will see more action. The qualified depth goes even further, so there is no genuine drop off here to report, only (eventual) improvements.

Tight End
Jon Hamlett was in the starting lineup by season's end, having proven himself as a pass catcher and a blocker. With exceptional size, he provides the Tar Heels with a quality sixth blocker in the run game, too. Senior Justin Phillips will join him in going deep over the middle at sporadic times. True freshman quickster Richard Quinn, who played receiver in high school, is bulking up so his presence doesn't telegraph the Tar Heel's play-calls this way. This unit is a key for the new QBs to find, for it will be a Rosetta stone that opens up this offense if utilized properly.

Offensive Line
Four players with extensive starting experience are back, but this is still a work in progress. Steven Bell has the inside track to take over, but quarterbacks had trouble handling his snaps in spring ball, and he'll be pushed by sophomores Scott Lenahan and Ben Lemming. The rest of the line is in good shape. Skip Seagraves, who was granted a sixth-year of eligibility (broken foot in the second game), has too started many games, and others back mean experience isn't a question. All-ACC Kyle Ralph and Charlston Gray are big reasons why this running game will be so effective. Redshirt freshman Calvin Darity, the nation's top guard prospect (Rivals.com) coming out of prep, will break in quickly. Improvising won't be the style at QB for a while, so the mobility/stealth (most of the two-deep in under 300lbs.) of the unit will likely be applied by way of option, roll-out, play-action, etc. - more organized ways of keeping rush ends honest and new QBs clean. Somewhat distressing is how they were 15th in average per carry (4.85), but 31st in team rushing, showing a need for efficiency in the run game so yards-gained/efforts here aren't again squandered.

The whole key here remains at quarterback. Darian Durant was a three-year starter and holds several school records, and he won't be completely replaceable. Matt Baker obviously has to play/think well, but Baker won't be Durant, which means the running game has to step forward. He's mature, has shown an ability to handle pressure, and has a good, accurate arm. Yet, as good as Durant was, the Tar Heels still ranked only commanded the No.43 total offense. Ball control was an issue (-1:56 TOP-differential), so establishing a quality balance between the run and pass will go a long way toward maximizing efforts on both sides of the ball this way and will keep the efforts of the entire team better rested for when most needed, not just to keep pace (as was true in 2004). Look for initially conservative play-calling to quickly open up due to the WRs and RBs, meaning it would only be UNC's QB play that could eventually hold them back. Durant may be gone, but this solid line says they actually improve the overall unit and its impact.


OG Kyle Ralph


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Matt Baker-Sr (6-3, 210) Roger Heinz-So (6-2, 205)
FB Rikki Cook-Jr (6-0, 265) Michael Briggs-Fr (6-0, 225)
TB Ronnie McGill-Jr (5-11, 210) Barrington Edwards-So (6-0, 210)
Vince Wilson-So (5-9, 190)
WR Jesse Holley-Jr (6-3, 196) Jarwarski Pollock-Sr (5-8, 170)
WR Derrele Mitchell-Sr (6-3, 213) Mike Mason-Jr (6-0, 191)
TE Jon Hamlett-Jr (6-5, 251) Justin Phillips-Sr (6-4, 236)
OT Brian Chacos-Sr (6-4, 298) Chris Woods-Jr (6-3, 295)
OG Charlston Gray-So (6-3, 300) Arthur Smith-Sr (6-4, 283)
C Ben Lemming-So (6-5, 280) Steven Bell-Sr (6-3, 285)
OG Kyle Ralph-Sr (6-4, 297) Donnell Livingston-So (6-3, 300)
OT Skip Seagraves-Sr (6-5, 290) Kendall High-Jr (6-4, 282)
K Connor Barth-So (6-1, 175) Lane Clemmons-So (5-10, 200)



Defensive Line
There's a lot of pressure here as the Tar Heels were 109th against the run, and only 7.5 of their (20) sacks came from the line. The good news is that there is plenty of experience. Tommy Davis has started the last two years at end, but off-season foot surgery means new faces will have to emerge. Davis' ability to make plays (eight QB-hurries) needs to stress proper (not over) pursuit. Other DEs, especially rush-end Hilee Taylor, have the speed and talent to secure from sideline to sideline. Inside, DT-DE Chase Page, who started 24 games as an underclassman, but missed 2004 with a hand injury, is back as he proved with a fantastic spring. Sophomores Kyndraus Guy and Khalif Mitchell have huge seasons ahead with Page back to occupy hats. Depth inside is of concern, but the efforts here will be enough to hold foes to under four per carry.

With all three starters returning, UNC ought to be excited about its linebackers, but this group was most responsible for opponents' successes (and therefore its 109th overall defensive ranking). New linebackers coach Tommy Thigpen will soon be turning that around. Former-safety Tommy Richardson is one of the leaders on the field in charge of the turnaround. He's small, but quick, making his impact felt in coverage and then open-field tackling prowess. Jeff Longhany and Doug Justice, both iffy as starters after marginal showings, will again give way to multiple role-playing subs who could easily take their status. The potential here is huge, but with depth that only goes so far, health is a concern.

Defensive Back
The secondary returns nearly intact, and UNC will be able to fill Gerald Sensabaugh's safety role (top tackler and run-support expert). Likely candidates Kareen Taylor and converted-LB Mahlon Carey will bring much-needed pop. Former-CB Trimane Goddard, shifted to safety because the coaches want him to somehow play, had a great spring. The corners are solid, with Jacoby Watkins and Cedrick Holt both need to use the gifts they've been given for more than their combined two INTs (both by Watkins) and five PassBreakups. Holt had wrist surgery this spring, but will be back by fall. The LB play will tell all as to whether secondary help is needed underneath and in run-support (again), which will tell whether this group is spread too thin, or applied just right…bank on the latter.

Somehow, the Tar Heels qualified for a bowl game despite the D. In five of their six losses, they gave up 34 or more points, only holding two total foes to under 20 altogether (both wins). The biggest problem was that the defense didn't make any big plays (20 sacks, eight INTs and just 15 total TOs). Marvin Sanders seemingly knew what he was doing enough that he displaces co-coordinator John Gudenkunst (who is somehow rewarded for this debacle by being promoted to assistant head coach), so together with 10 full or part-time starters back, plus the return of Chase Page from a hand injury, the defense will be better. The secondary isn't as bad as the numbers suggest, because the guys in front of them were terrible, and we expect Sanders' tutelage to really sink in and be reflected this campaign. We also expect the LBs will be the weakest link to start, but measure the overall defensive developments and you can then conclude by that how well the corps is progressing. With Sanders (also DB's coach) now solely in charge, expect maturity in the back seven to keep the play in front of them until this unit gels. Unexpecting foes won't know what hit them - if you think Miami learned its lesson before, wait and see if they underestimate an even better Tar Heel defense now, for they shouldn't. But there are enough early tests before that rematch (10/29/05) so that this side of the ball is humming by then.


CB Jacoby Watkins


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Brian Rackley-Jr (6-5, 245) Kentwan Balmer-So (6-5, 250)
DT Chase Page-Sr (6-5, 280) Kenny Price-So (6-4, 280)
DT Kyndraus Guy-So (6-2, 269) Khalif Mitchell-So (6-6, 293)
DE Tommy Davis-Sr (6-2, 257) Melik Brown-Jr (6-1, 256)
SLB Jeff Longhany-Sr (6-3, 251) Larry Edwards-Jr (6-3, 240)
MLB Doug Justice-Sr (6-2, 239) Victor Worsley-Jr (6-1, 238)
WLB Tommy Richardson-Sr (6-1, 223) Chase Rice-Fr (6-3, 210)
CB Jacoby Watkins-Jr (6-0, 170) Bryan Bethea-So (5-10, 174)
CB Cedrick Holt-Sr (5-11, 190) Quinton Person-So (5-11, 182)
SS Mahlon Carey-Sr (6-1, 219) Trimane Goddard-So (5-11, 185)
FS Kareen Taylor-Jr (6-0, 195) D.J. Walker-So (6-0, 181)
P David Wooldridge-Jr (6-1, 194) John Choate-So (6-2, 185)



The kicking game was a definite bright spot in '04. Connor Barth connected on 14-of-18 field goals, including the game-winner against the Canes (42 yarder). He is nearly automatic inside the 40 (11-of-13). At one point, he made seven consecutively. Barth also is strong on KO duty, but coverage in this wide-open stopping format was abysmal. Improvements come as they will in PR coverage.

Sophomore David Wooldridge was solid. His 41+ average made for ironically good net number (ranked 29th in I-A), which will only improve as the defense has eager DBs and LBs to lend to this area. UNC blocked three but were blocked by foes four times, another disparity that will inversely change.

Return Game
There are good athletes to return kicks, but UNC just ranked 106th for both punt and kickoff returns. Mike Mason returned most of the kickoffs a year ago, but others await their turns (Goddard, Rich). Quinton Person, a redshirt freshman, will battle incumbent Jarwarski Pollock for punt return duties, though neither showed the pop needed to get the quick six, which opens the door here, too. Stay tuned as this area improves.