Few would deny that after back-to-back nine loss seasons, the North Carolina football team has some work to do.
Under Larry Fedora, the Tar Heels went just 2-14 in ACC games in the last two seasons, and went winless on the road in 2018. But looking ahead to UNC football's Spring Game on Saturday, new head coach Mack Brown gave plenty of reason for excitement – and a challenge to his team.
"Guys worked really hard (last) Saturday," Brown said. "We had a very good scrimmage, by far the best we've had. I told them, they need to give each other the gift of consistency: playing at a very high level like we did Saturday, and doing it every day, because we're still too up and down. We'll come out one day and have too many penalties or not be quite as sharp, and we're not a team that can win unless we play with high energy and give it all we've got every day."
Despite concerns about inconsistency, Brown recognizes the Tar Heels' high ceiling, and talked about the understandable challenges that come with a new coaching staff.
"I like the team," Brown said. "I like who they are. They've tried to do everything we've asked them to do. One of the toughest things is to build trust when you come in. We've always said you've got to learn to communicate before you can get trust and respect."
Still, Brown believes that the early returns have been promising.
"We don't have a split of old and young, we don't have guys that hate their coach, so I think for the first four months it's been about as good as it can be," he said.
One of the biggest questions for the Tar Heels will be the status of their defensive front seven, a group that allowed 34.6 points per game last season and lost their best pass rusher Malik Carney.
"We are really, really thin in the defensive line, and we're thin at linebacker," Brown said. "I told the coaches, we've got to coach them up. It doesn't matter whether they think they're experienced or even talented. Get the guys playing hard, get them in the right place, and they'll play better than they have in their past."