2011 North Carolina Tar Heels football team

The 2011 North Carolina Tar Heels football team represented the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the 2011 NCAA Division I FBS football season. The team was led by interim head coach Everett Withers and played their home games at Kenan Memorial Stadium, and members of the Atlantic Coast Conference in the Coastal Division. The Tar Heels finished the season 7–6, 3–5 in ACC play to finish tied for fourth in the Coastal Division, and were invited to the Independence Bowl where they were defeated by Missouri, 24–41.

2011 North Carolina Tar Heels football
North Carolina Tar Heels logo.svg
ConferenceAtlantic Coast Conference
DivisionCoastal Division
2011 record7–6 (3–5 ACC)
Head coachEverett Withers (interim)
Offensive coordinatorJohn Shoop (5th season)
Offensive schemePro-style
Defensive coordinatorArt Kaufman (1st season)
Base defense4–3
Home stadiumKenan Memorial Stadium
(Capacity: 62,980)
← 2010
2012 →
2011 Atlantic Coast Conference football standings
Conf     Overall
Team   W   L         W   L  
Atlantic Division
No. 22 Clemson x$   6 2         10 4  
Wake Forest   5 3         6 7  
No. 23 Florida State   5 3         9 4  
NC State   4 4         8 5  
Boston College   3 5         4 8  
Maryland   1 7         2 10  
Coastal Division
No. 21 Virginia Tech x%   7 1         11 3  
Virginia   5 3         8 5  
Georgia Tech   5 3         8 5  
Miami   3 5         6 6  
North Carolina   3 5         7 6  
Duke   1 7         3 9  
Championship: Clemson 38, Virginia Tech 10
  • $ – BCS representative as conference champion
  • % – BCS at-large representative
  • x – Division champion/co-champions
Rankings from AP Poll


After National Signing Day (February 3, 2011) the Tar Heel's recruiting class was ranked as the 16th best class in the nation by the three major recruiting sites (espn.com,[1] rivals.com,[2] and scout.com[3]). Marquise Williams (QB), Travis Riley (RB), T.J. Thorpe (Ath), Landon Turner (OG), and Sylvester Williams (DT) (Junior College Transfer) all enrolled in January 2011. The entire 2011 recruiting class included 26 players, 22 of which were either four-star or three-star recruits.

^Delvon Simmons requested to be released from his letter of intent in March 2011. He was granted release, and will not play for UNC.

Coaching staffEdit

On July 27, 2011, UNC chancellor Holden Thorp announced that the UNC Board of Trustees decided to dismiss Butch Davis as the head coach of the football team.[4] The announcement comes a week before the start of fall training camp. The firing is due to the investigations by the NCAA into academic fraud, impermissible benefits, and talking to agents in the 2010 season. The next day on the 28th, Everett Withers, the defensive coordinator of the past 3 years, was named as the interim head coach.[5] Athletic director, Dick Baddour, also announced, on this day, that he would be stepping down from his role once a new athletic director is found for the university.[6] Baddour added that he wanted the new athletic director to be in charge of hiring the university's next head football coach.

Name[7] Position Seasons in Position
Everett Withers Interim Head Coach 1st (4th at school)
Brian Baker Defensive Line 1st
Ken Browning Running Backs 18th
Tom Myslinski Strength and Conditioning Coordinator 1st
Troy Douglas Defensive Backs 3rd
Art Kaufman Linebackers 3rd
Allen Mogridge Tight Ends/Recruiting Coordinator/Special Teams Coordinator 3rd
Sam Pittman Associate Head Coach/Offensive Line 5th
John Shoop Offensive Coordinator / Quarterbacks 5th
Charlie Williams Wide Receivers 5th
Steve Sisa Safeties 1st


2011 North Carolina Tar Heels football team roster
Players Coaches
Pos. # Name Class
WR 3 Joshua Adams So
OL 69 Nick Appel RFr
RB 26 Giovani Bernard RFr
QB 15 A.J. Blue So
OL 60 Russell Bodine RFr
OG 76 Travis Bond Jr
WR 87 Jheranie Boyd Jr
FB 38 Curtis Byrd Sr
OG 62 David Collins So
C 64 Jonathan Cooper Jr
TE 85 Eric Ebron Fr
TE 84 Sean Fitzpatrick RFr
OT 71 Carl Gaskins Sr
QB 14 Braden Hanson Jr
WR 88 Erik Highsmith Jr
C 65 Cam Holland Sr
OL 72 Kiaro Holts   Fr
RB 32 Ryan Houston Sr
OT 68 James Hurst So
TE 89 Nelson Hurst Jr
OL 51 Jarrod James   Fr
OG 63 Peyton Jenest Jr
WR 83 Dwight Jones Sr
RB 44 Matt Kolojejchick Jr
OT 75 T.J. Leifheit Fr
OL 58 Jordan Marsh So
RB 21 Romar Morris   Fr
FB 39 Kenny Owens Jr
FB 45 Devon Ramsay   Sr
QB 2 Bryn Renner So
RB 8 Travis Riley   Fr
TE 80 Jack Tabb III Fr
WR 6 Sean Tapley RFr
WR 5 T.J. Thorpe Fr
OG 78 Landon Turner   Fr
WR 81 Reggie Wilkins RFr
OT 73 Brennan Williams Jr
QB 12 Marquise Williams   Fr
TE 33 Christian Wilson Sr
Pos. # Name Class
DE 86 Tyler Alberts   Fr
S 10 Tre Boston So
LB 45 Josh Bridges Jr
CB 12 Charles Brown Sr
DL 74 Devonte Brown So
LB 47 Zach Brown Sr
S 36 D.J. Bunn So
LB 43 Curtis Campbell So
LB 56 P.J. Clyburn RFr
DE 90 Quinton Coples Sr
DE 94 Adam Curry Jr
LB 49 Fabby Desir Jr
DB 16 Alex Dixon   Fr
DB 20 Brandon Ellerbe Fr
DT 96 Ethan Farmer RFr
S 29 Brian Gupton Sr
LB 57 Dion Guy Jr
CB 13 Todd Harrelson Jr
LB 9 Travis Hughes Fr
DB 34 Kameron Jackson   Fr
DL 93 Tim Jackson So
LB 23 Darius Lipford So
CB 31 Pete Mangum Jr
DE 95 Kareem Martin So
S 25 Matt Merletti   Sr
DT 78 Jordan Nix Sr
LB 41 Ebele Okakpu Sr
LB 52 Norkeithus Otis Fr
DE 98 Donte Paige-Moss Jr
DE 53 Alec Petrocelli RFr
DT 91 Tydreke Powell Sr
CB 4 Jabari Price So
S 27 Darien Rankin   Fr
LB 48 Kevin Reddick Jr
S 1 Gene Robinson Jr
DB 7 Tim Scott Fr
CB 24 Terry Shankle So
DB 11 Sam Smiley   Fr
S 28 Jonathan Smith Sr
DT 97 Shawn Underwood Fr
LB 54 Keeon Virgile   Fr
DT 92 Sylvester Williams Jr
Special teams
Pos. # Name Class
PK 11 Casey Barth     Sr
P 30 C.J. Feagles So
P 15 Thomas Hibbard Fr
DS 61 Mark House Sr
H 19 Trase Jones Sr
DS 67 Mack Lloyd So
P/PK 17 Miller Snyder   Fr
PK 14 Thomas Moore Fr
Head coach
Coordinators/assistant coaches
  • Sam Pittman -Associate Head Coach/Offensive Line
  • Ken Browning -Running Backs
  • Troy Douglas -Defensive Backs
  • Art Kaufman -Linebackers
  • Allen Mogridge -Tight Ends
  • Tom Myslinski -Head Strength and Conditioning Coach
  • Joe Robinson -Defensive Line
  • John Shoop -Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks
  • Steve Sisa -Safeties
  • Charlie Williams -Wide Receivers

  • (C) Team captain
  • (S) Suspended
  • (I) Ineligible
  •   Injured
  •   Redshirt

Last update: September 7, 2011


September 33:30 p.m.No. 15 (FCS) James Madison*RSNW 42–10 57,000
September 1012:30 p.m.Rutgers*
  • Kenan Memorial Stadium
  • Chapel Hill, NC
ACCNW 24–22 53,000
September 173:30 p.m.Virginia
ESPNUW 28–17 55,000
September 2412:00 p.m.at No. 25 Georgia TechESPNL 28–35 46,849
October 18:00 p.m.at East Carolina*CBSSNW 35–20 50,610
October 812:00 p.m.Louisville*
  • Kenan Memorial Stadium
  • Chapel Hill, NC
ESPN2W 14–7 51,500[8]
October 1512:30 p.m.Miami (FL)
  • Kenan Memorial Stadium
  • Chapel Hill, NC
ACCNL 24–30 60,000[9]
October 2212:00 p.m.at No. 8 ClemsonESPNL 38–59 80,519[10]
October 293:30 p.m.Wake Forest 
  • Kenan Memorial Stadium
  • Chapel Hill, NC (rivalry)
ESPNUW 49–24 57,000[11]
November 512:30 p.m.at NC StateACCNL 0–13 57,583[12]
November 178:00 p.m.at No. 9 Virginia TechESPNL 21–24 66,233
November 263:30 p.m.Duke
RSNW 37–21 58,500
December 265:00 p.m.vs. Missouri*ESPN2L 24–41 41,728
  • *Non-conference game
  •  Homecoming
  • Rankings from AP Poll released prior to the game
  • All times are in Eastern time

Do not play: Boston College, Florida State, and Maryland.[13]


Ranking movements
Legend: ██ Increase in ranking. ██ Decrease in ranking.
NR = Not ranked. RV = Received votes. т = Tied with team above or below. ( ) = First place votes.
Poll Pre 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Final 
Harris Not released RV RV NR RV NR NR NR NR NR Not released 
BCS Not released NR NR NR NR NR NR NR NR Not released

Game summariesEdit

James Madison DukesEdit

Week 1: James Madison Dukes
1 2 34Total
Dukes 0 7 3010
Tar Heels 14 14 01442

at Kenan Memorial Stadium

This was the first ever game as a head coach for Everett Withers. The Tar Heels never trailed in the game, scoring on the opening drive of the game with a 34 yard touchdown pass from Bryn Renner to Dwight Jones. The Heels gave up only one touchdown, which came off of the ensuing drive after a mishandled snap, which resulted in a blocked punt. In his first ever collegiate start, Bryn Renner set school and ACC records for the highest completion percentage (95.7%) in a single-game and was just shy of the NCAA record of 95.8% set in 1998 by Tennessee's Tee Martin.[14]

Rutgers Scarlet KnightsEdit

Week 2: Rutgers Scarlet Knights
1 2 34Total
Scarlet Knights 0 12 3722
Tar Heels 7 10 7024

at Kenan Memorial Stadium

North Carolina was able to hold on to a 2 point win despite turning the ball over 5 times (2 fumbles and 3 interceptions) and not having a single takeaway. A key defensive stand came in the first quarter when a Rutgers interception was returned to the UNC 2 yard line. The UNC defense was able to hold the Rutgers offense and on 4th down from the 1 yard line held the line of scrimmage forcing a turnover on downs. The UNC defense was also able to hold Rutgers to only 1 yard rushing total for the game, the lowest total since holding Wake Forest to a negative 2 yards in 2000.[15]

Virginia CavaliersEdit

Week 3: Virginia Cavaliers
1 2 34Total
Cavaliers 0 3 7717
Tar Heels 0 14 14028

at Kenan Memorial Stadium

With its win against Virginia, UNC started their ACC schedule with a win for the first time since 2001. The Heels were able to effectively run the ball against the Cavaliers, finishing the game with 222 rushing yards by 8 different offensive players. The Heels defense recorded their first takeaways of the young season when Matt Merletti recorded 2 interceptions in the fourth quarter to seal the Carolina victory.[16]

Georgia Tech Yellow JacketsEdit

Week 4: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
1 2 34Total
#25 Tar Heels 7 0 71428
#24 Yellow Jackets 3 14 11735

at Bobby Dodd Stadium

Georgia Tech entered this meeting of unbeatens as one of the top offenses in the nation averaging 53.3 points and 675.3 yards a game.[17] The UNC defense, however, was able to hold them to only 35 points and 496 yards. Trailing 28–14 in the fourth quarter, UNC rallied behind an Eric Ebron touchdown reception and a 55 yard Giovanni Bernard touchdown run to tie the game up with 7:22 left in the game. Georgia Tech took the lead for good with a Tevin Washington touchdown run with 5:20 remaining. With the win, Georgia Tech goes to 4–0 for the first time since their national championship season in 1990.[18]

East Carolina PiratesEdit

Week 5: East Carolina Pirates
1 2 34Total
Tar Heels 14 14 0735
Pirates 0 3 10720

at Dowdy–Ficklen Stadium

UNC did not commit a turnover in a game for the first time all season. They were +4 in the turnover margin for the game (2 fumble recoveries and 2 interceptions). Giovani Bernard became the first Tar Heel since Natrone Means in 1992 to rush for over 100 yards in 3 consecutive games. His 7 touchdowns through 5 games ties the individual high for Johnny White as the team leader for the year in 2011. The UNC offense continued to perform in the red-zone scoring touchdowns on 3 of 4 trips, bringing their season total to 15 touchdowns in 18 trips in the redzone. The defense, however, has held opponents to only 7 touchdowns in 18 trips into the redzone so far this year.[19]

Louisville CardinalsEdit

Week 6: Louisville Cardinals
1 2 34Total
Cardinals 0 0 077
Tar Heels 0 0 7714

at Kenan Memorial Stadium

Despite having the ball for 22:08 in the first half, Louisville only gained 173 yards of offense. This was, however, 113 more yards than UNC going into the locker rooms at the half. In the second half however, UNC outgained Louisville 202 to 95. Louisville's only score of the game came with only 42 seconds left to end the shutout for the UNC defense. Giovani Bernard became the first ever freshman running back to rush for over 100 yards in 4 straight games. With this win, UNC has won 8 straight games against non-conference opponents. Their last lost was against LSU in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game.[20]

Miami HurricanesEdit

Week 7: Miami Hurricanes
1 2 34Total
Hurricanes 17 10 0330
Tar Heels 0 10 01424

at Kenan Memorial Stadium

UNC gave up a touchdown in the first quarter for the first time this season. Miami took a 14–0 lead before UNC ever took the field on offense. Miami scored on their opening drive of the game and then, on the ensuing kick-off, recovered a fumble by kick returner T.J. Thorpe and scored on their next play from scrimmage. The Heels nearly made an improbable comeback when, down by 13, they scored a touchdown with 46 seconds remaining in the game. They then recovered the on-side kick on their own 44 yard line. They were able to advance the ball to the 30 yard line after a 15 yard pass reception by Dwight Jones and an 11 yard reception by Giovani Bernard. Bernard also rushed for another 110 yards giving him 5 100+ yard games in a row. This ties for the second most in a season by a UNC freshman. The other two UNC freshmen with this record are Amos Lawrence (who finished with 6 in 1977) and Leon Johnson (who finished with 5 in 1993).[21]

Clemson TigersEdit

Week 8: Clemson Tigers
1 2 34Total
Tar Heels 7 10 71438
#8 Tigers 10 14 35059

at Memorial Stadium

The Tar Heels turned the ball over 6 times in their 59–38 loss to Clemson. This was the most points allowed by UNC since they gave up 69 to Louisville in 2005. UNC was only down by 7 going into the half and their defense had only allowed 15 yards of rushing up to that point. However, Clemson's 35 points in the third quarter became only the second time in school history to accomplish this feat, the only other time being by the 1981 National Championship team. T.J. Thorpe became only the second Tar Heel in history to record a kickoff return of 100 yards for a touchdown.[22]

Wake Forest Demon DeaconsEdit

Week 9: Wake Forest Demon Deacons
1 2 34Total
Demon Deacons 0 10 7724
Tar Heels 14 7 72149

at Kenan Memorial Stadium

With their win over Wake Forest, North Carolina became bowl eligible for the 4th straight year. The Tar Heel defense caused 5 Deacon turnovers (3 interceptions and 2 fumbles) after Wake Forest had committed only 5 turnovers the entire season coming into the game. UNC's 49 points was the most they had scored in a game since their opener against William & Mary in 2004 and the most against an ACC opponent since the 2001 season. The Tar Heel defense was led by senior Zach Brown who had 9 tackles (2.5 for a loss), an interception, a sack, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery.[23]

NC State WolfpackEdit

Week 10: NC State Wolfpack
1 2 34Total
Tar Heels 0 0 000
Wolfpack 7 3 3013

at Carter–Finley Stadium

The Tar Heels were shut out for the first time since a 7–0 loss to Georgia Tech in 2006, and their first shut out by NC State since 1960. Bryn Renner was knocked out of the game with concussion-like symptoms early in the second half. The UNC offense had its worst performance of the season, being held to a game low of 165 total yards. Giovani Bernard was, however, able to become the 15th Tar Heel to rush for 1,000 yards in a season and the third freshman to rush for 1,000 yards. The only point in the game in which it seemed UNC was going to put points on the scoreboard was on a 75 yard touchdown reception by Dwight Jones that was called back because of holding on the offensive line.[24]

Virginia Tech HokiesEdit

Week 11: Virginia Tech Hokies
1 2 34Total
Tar Heels 7 0 01421
#9 Hokies 0 10 14024

at Lane Stadium

Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas fumbled on the first play from scrimmage when he was sacked by Sylvester Williams. This set up UNC with a 3 play, 20 yard drive that concluded with a Giovani Bernard 4 yard touchdown. After preventing Virginia Tech from converting a 4th down on the UNC 26 yard line, the Heels drove the length of the field to the 5 yard line where Ryan Houston fumbled the ball and it was recovered by the Hokies. The last time that UNC and Virginia Tech played on Thursday night was in 2009 when Virginia Tech fumbled the ball on a drive in the fourth quarter that eventually lead to a UNC victory. After coming 5 yards from taking a 14-0 lead, UNC found itself giving up 24 unanswered points to the Hokies by the fourth quarter. However, with 7:06 left in the game, Bryn Renner completed a pass to Erik Highsmith to reduce the lead to 10 points. After forcing the Hokies to punt on their next possession, Renner completed a 25 yard pass to Dwight Jones, then a 64 yard pass to Erik Highsmith to the 2 yard line where Houston punched the ball into the endzone to cut the lead to 3 with 2:32 left in the game. The Heels recovered the onside kick on the subsequent kick-off, but upon further review, it was judged that the ball did not travel the required 10 yards on the kickoff which gave the Hokies the ball. They were able to run the clock down to where only one play would be left for UNC, who was not able to convert it into a touchdown.[25]

Duke Blue DevilsEdit

Week 12: Duke Blue Devils
1 2 34Total
Blue Devils 7 7 7021
Tar Heels 10 10 10737

at Kenan Memorial Stadium

UNC beat Duke for an 8th straight year, the last lose coming in 2003. Dwight Jones broke the single season reception record with 79 receptions for the season. The previous record of 74 receptions was held by Hakeem Nicks. Bryn Renner tied the single season record for most passing touchdowns with 23. In addition, Giovani Bernard ran for a season high 165 rushing yards. Duke quarterback, Sean Renfree, was taken out of the game during the third quarter due to numbness and swelling in his right hand. Because of this, Anthony Boone saw the most snaps of his freshman year and lead the Blue Devils in rushing for the game.[26]

Missouri Tigers–Independence BowlEdit

Bowl: Missouri Tigers
1 2 34Total
Tigers 14 17 7341
Tar Heels 7 3 7724

at Independence Stadium

NFL DraftEdit

Round Pick Player Position NFL Team
1 16 Quinton Coples DE New York Jets
2 52 Zach Brown OLB Tennessee Titans


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  2. ^ "[2]." rivals.com. Retrieved on February 17, 2011.
  3. ^ "[3]." scout.com. Retrieved on February 17, 2011.
  4. ^ UNC Athletic Comm (2011). "UNC Announces Coaching Change". insidecarolina.com. Archived from the original on September 29, 2011. Retrieved July 27, 2011.
  5. ^ "Everett Withers Named Carolina's Interim Head Football Coach". tarheelblue.com. 2011. Archived from the original on April 8, 2012. Retrieved August 3, 2011.
  6. ^ "Dick Baddour stepping down at UNC". ESPN. 2011. Retrieved August 3, 2011.
  7. ^ ""Archived copy". Archived from the original on December 14, 2007. Retrieved February 6, 2008.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)." tarheelblue.com. Retrieved on February 20, 2011.
  8. ^ "Louisville Cardinals vs. North Carolina Tar Heels Box Score". ESPN. October 8, 2011.
  9. ^ a b "Miami (FL) Hurricanes vs. North Carolina Tar Heels football team". ESPN. October 15, 2011.
  10. ^ a b "North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Clemson Tigers Box Score". ESPN. October 22, 2011.
  11. ^ a b "Wake Forest Demon Deacons vs. North Carolina Tar Heels Box Score". ESPN. Retrieved October 29, 2011.
  12. ^ "North Carolina Tar Heels vs. North Carolina State Wolfpack Box Score". ESPN. November 13, 2011.
  13. ^ "North Carolina Future Football Schedules." tarheelblue.com. Retrieved on February 8, 2010
  14. ^ "Renner's Record Setting Day Powers 42–10 Tar Heel Win". tarheelblue.com. 2011. Archived from the original on May 3, 2012. Retrieved September 7, 2011.
  15. ^ "UNC-Rutgers Postgame Notes". tarheelblue.com. 2011. Retrieved September 11, 2011.
  16. ^ "Carolina-Virginia Postgame Notes". tarheelblue.com. 2011. Retrieved September 19, 2011.
  17. ^ "Georgia Tech – North Carolina Game Notes". ramblinwreck.com. 2011. Retrieved September 28, 2011.
  18. ^ "Tar Heels Drop Rally Effort at Georgia Tech, 35–28". tarheelblue.com. 2011. Retrieved September 28, 2011.
  19. ^ "North Carolina vs. ECU: Postgame Notes". tarheelblue.com. 2011. Retrieved October 7, 2011.
  20. ^ "North Carolina Postgame Notes". tarheelblue.com. 2011. Retrieved October 27, 2011.
  21. ^ "UNC-Miami Postgame Notes". tarheelblue.com. 2011. Retrieved November 17, 2011.
  22. ^ "Heels Drop 59–38 Shootout to Undefeated Clemson". tarheelblue.com. 2011. Retrieved November 25, 2011.
  23. ^ "Bernard Leads Tar Heels to 49–24 Win Over Wake Forest". tarheelblue.com. 2011. Retrieved November 26, 2011.
  24. ^ "Postgame Notes: UNC vs. NC State". tarheelblue.com. 2011. Retrieved January 23, 2012.
  25. ^ "Tar Heels Fall to No. 9 Virginia Tech, 24-21". tarheelblue.com. 2011. Retrieved April 2, 2012.
  26. ^ "UNC Dominates Duke For Eighth Straight Year, 37-21". tarheelblue.com. 2011. Retrieved April 3, 2012.