Defensive improvement key for 2005 season

Originally Published: February 24, 2005
By Doug Carlson | Special to ESPN.com
Along with the first hint of spring blossoms, there's a sense of excitement in the air in Chapel Hill these days. The men's basketball team is expected to go deep into March Madness and reclaim a bit of the NCAA Tournament tradition that has been missing at the University of North Carolina in recent years.

But, this year, there's a renewed level of excitement for the football program, too. After losing 19 games in two seasons, Carolina began to turn things around in 2004, winning six games, including a season-making triumph at home against Miami, and going to a bowl game for the first time since 2001.

For a change, there's a feeling of stability surrounding the football program as it kicks off spring practice on Friday, becoming the first of 12 Atlantic Coast Conference teams to do so.