It's been somewhat difficult to keep up with all of the North Carolina players caught up in the agent and now academic-related scandals. We still don't know who will go and who won't because the NCAA hasn't told the school yet. Because a lot of us here in SEC country are not that familiar with UNC's players, here's a quick rundown of the important guys who might miss the big game against LSU.
Little is perhaps the single most important player of the lot, and it's because he's not on that scary Tar Heel defense. Little is by far UNC's best receiver, whose 2009 reception and yard counts were about 70 percent greater than the next guy on the list. I know this is not totally valid (e.g. not every ball thrown at Little was completed) so consider it for entertainment value only, but this is what's left of QB T.J. Yates's stats when you take Little out:
|T.J. Yates 2009||355||214||60.3%||2,136||6.02||14||15||115.39|
|Greg Little 2009||62||62||-||724||11.68||5||-||-|
|Yates without Little||293||152||51.9%||1,412||4.82||9||15||92.62|
Without Little, UNC's passing offense was little better than Vanderbilt's. The Tar Heels' passing prospects were already dim to begin with as Patrick Peterson was probably going to slow Little down quite a bit, but if Little can't go, that entire facet of the offense all but disappears.
As a defensive tackle not named Ndamukong Suh, Austin doesn't rack up eye-popping statistics. However, he's still considered to be one of the best in the country and a surefire first round pick in the NFL Draft. He's probably the next most important guy because of how spotty LSU's offensive line play was. Minus Austin, LSU would find it much easier to begin rebuilding the running game.
Quinn is a starting defensive end and was UNC's top sack man last year. In fact, he finished 16th in the nation in sacks last year. Along with that mark, he was fourth in forced fumbles and 15th in tackles for loss. Again, given how relatively porous LSU's O-line was last year, the loss of Quinn would be significant to say the least.
Burney is a starting cornerback for the Heels who was one behind Carter in fourth on the team in total tackles. He also gathered five interceptions last year, including three against Miami (FL). He returned one of those for a touchdown, and on the season, he averaged 40 yards per return.