Two seasons ago was a low point for the position group. In 2014, the Tar Heels ranked 101st out of 125 Division-I teams with an average of 257.4 passing yards per game. This was one of the major reasons why North Carolina gave up a staggering 39 points per game on the year.
But in 2015, the secondary turned things around — thanks to the emergence of cornerbacks Lawrence and M.J. Stewart.
The pair helped UNC climb into the top 20 nationally in interceptions, passing yards allowed and opponent passing efficiency.
Now, that level of play has become a new norm for the group — one it fully intends to live up to in 2016.
“We basically set a new standard for Carolina defense,” Stewart said.
“I mean, keeping people out of the red zone, keeping people from scoring — that’s become our new standard. And so now, instead of doing it, we expect it.”
But despite the confidence within the group, national media have been hesitant to praise the Tar Heel secondary this offseason.
Aside from Lawrence earning first team All-ACC honors earlier this summer, the names of North Carolina corners and safeties have been left off most preseason teams and award watch lists.