One of the major questions entering the 2010 season was how well would the offensive line progress after a difficult 2009? Last year was exceedingly difficult given graduation losses and massive injury problems.
There is no question that the O-line has been a bright spot in 2010. Line coach Sam Pittman has used eight players on a regular basis, and they're helping open holes for Johnny White and Shaun Draughn and protect quarterback T.J. Yates.
After a tough start at center against LSU, Jonathan Cooper has moved to left guard and Cam Holland has been a rock at center. Alan Pelc has started every game at right guard but is being pressured for playing time by sophomore Travis Bond.
"Travis might be our best run blocker," offensive coordinator John Shoop says. "He really played well against Clemson. He had no mental errors. He's really coming along. Now we've got to get him playing with his eyes better. He's like a bull in a china shop when he pulls. He can learn something from Coop. Coop has been incredible leading the way on some running plays."
Mike Ingersoll has played well at right tackle, and freshman James Hurst has taken the starting slot at left tackle from Carl Gaskins, though Gaskins will continue to play as he recovers from knee surgery a year ago.
The line was instrumental in the Tar Heels keeping the ball for 13 minutes in the final quarter of last week's 21-16 win over Clemson.
"We had some momentum going, the offensive line started digging in and they were blocking their tails off," tailback Johnny White said. "We wore Clemson down a little bit."
The good news for the Tar Heels is that of their eight top linemen, only two are seniors, and the Tar Heels have verbal commitments from four highly regarded high school seniors.