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UNC story lines at start of media day season

North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky (10) and his teammates enter Bobby Dodd Stadium for the Tar Heels’ game against Georgia Tech.
North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky (10) and his teammates enter Bobby Dodd Stadium for the Tar Heels’ game against Georgia Tech. News & Observer File Photo

Larry Fedora undoubtedly knows it by heart but I needed to count, and my math (and this handy days between dates calculator) tells me there's 53 days between now and the first full college football Saturday of 2016, when North Carolina plays against Georgia in Atlanta.

Fifty-three days. So much time. And yet hardly any time at all.

In one way, though, college football season is kind of sort of already here. As I type these very words, the SEC is holding the spectacle that is its annual media days in Birmingham, Ala. Next week it's the ACC's turn.

We'll all make our way down to the Charlotte Westin (fancy!) and hear both the latest and most tried-and-true sporting cliches. Many of them will be about how everything will be different for teams that weren't very good last year. For teams that were good, we'll hear how everything will be even better.

ACC Commissioner John Swofford will talk. Maybe he'll surprise with some news about whatever the conference has going on with ESPN. Probably not, though.

It's all very fun. (But no, some of it really is.) With media days in mind, here are the UNC story lines you'll grow weary and tired of hearing about during the next 53 days, if you aren't already:

1. Is Mitch Trubisky … ready?

Get ready: You'll definitely grow tired of hearing about the transition from the departed Marquise Williams to Trubisky, who has been waiting for three years to become the Tar Heels' starting quarterback. Prepare yourselves to hear plenty about how Williams was the ultimate Positive Dog, and whether Trubisky can be that; how the offense will be different with Trubisky; whether Trubisky possesses Williams' toughness; the things Trubisky might do better than Williams, etc. Trubisky is ready, everyone has said, and will say. Are you ready to hear questions and read stories about how ready he is? If not, get ready.

2. Say, how about that defense that gave up all those yards at the end of last season?

For much of last season the Tar Heels' defense was better than anyone could have imagined after the debacle of 2014. From the start, UNC was competent defensively, which couldn't be said very often the previous season. Then, though, came the final two games last year, when UNC allowed 1,364 yards – or about 22 percent of all the yards it allowed in 14 games. So what happens in year two under defensive coordinator Gene Chizik? You'll definitely be hearing a lot about this, so brace yourselves for no shortage of defensive-improvement discussion.

3. Dagnabit, who's calling the plays here, sonny?

That's a question reporters will be posing to coach Larry Fedora over and over again, possibly in exactly those words. Seth Littrell, the Tar Heels' former offensive coordinator, took the head job at North Texas. Littrell gave us several moments of dry comedy, what with his evident distaste for the post-practice interview (can't blame you, Seth). With Littrell gone, Fedora promoted Chris Kapilovic to offensive coordinator, but Kapilovic is also still in charge of the offensive line. Quarterbacks coach Keith Heckendorf, meanwhile, is the passing game coordinator. And Fedora has said he'll be more involved in play-calling. Does UNC have too many cooks in the kitchen? How play-calling will work in normal situations? That's a question you'll surely be hearing during the next 53 days.

4. May I kindly ask, sir, whether the defensive line will benefit from more success this fall than last?

Another question all the scribes can't wait to ask Fedora and his players, and ask it in the eloquent way typical of the modern, trained sports journalist. There will be questions, overall, about how far the defense can progress in its second year under Chizik. But no defensive position group faces more questions than the defensive line, which does seem to have potential, what with the likes of Naz Jones and Jalen Dalton on the inside, and Dajuan Drennon on the outside. How much the defense improves, though, will depend a lot on the defensive line, and so you should get ready for questions about it.

5. So, um, looking at the schedule here it appears you begin the season against Georgia …

Those reporters adept enough to check UNC's schedule before media day will likely notice that the Tar Heels do, in fact, begin the season against Georgia in Atlanta at the Chick-fil-A Kickoff. Once it indeed becomes clear that “Georgia” is atop UNC's schedule, media members will likely understand it's an important game. And so prepare yourselves, indeed, for no shortage of discussion about this game. Georgia is also in the SEC, a league with a superior football reputation than the ACC, and so some queries might focus on UNC's chance to prove its conference's worth.

Fifty-three more days to go …

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