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Coach Dick Crum moves into Tar Heel territory with a fine set of credentials from four years at Miami of Ohio—a won-lost record of 34-10-1, three Mid-American Conference championships and two Tangerine Bowl victories. Crum also brings a refreshing attitude, saying things like, "There is more to life than football," and "At this level football requires a large percentage of the player's time, but it shouldn't be the dominant percentage."
So perhaps the biggest imponderable concerning the 1978 Tar Heels is the team's reaction to the new fellow and his ideas. One thing they will certainly have to adapt to is a switch to the veer from the I formation favored by Crum's predecessor, Bill Dooley. The key to success will be ACC rookie of the year Amos Lawrence. Despite playing in only 10 games and not becoming a starter until the sixth game of the season, Lawrence rushed for 1,211 yards in 1977, eighth best in the country. Up to 186 pounds from 175, the sophomore back now lines up just three yards behind the line, compared to seven in the I. Lawrence, in fact, was Crum's reason for changing the Tar Heels' basic offensive formation. "Amos is a great runner," Crum says. "We want to give him more opportunities." Matt Kupec, starting for his third season at quarterback, loves the new offense. " Coach Crum tells me he wants to throw 20 times a game—Coach Dooley would never say that." The offensive line is anchored by Guard Mike Salzano, 6'4", 245 pounds, the AAC's No. 1 candidate for All-America.
On defense seven starters return from a team that led the nation in preventing scores, yielding only 81 points in 11 games. Two All-Conference returnees are End Ken Sheets, 6'3", 225 pounds, and Linebacker Buddy Curry, 6'3", 217 pounds. But the Tar Heels lost some good ones, too, and Crum worries that he is thin at defensive tackle and at linebacker.
Nevertheless, North Carolina should retain its conference championship with relative ease. It may even improve on that 8-3-1 record.