CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) – There are a lot of high expectations and hype surrounding the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill football program.

It’s a team that sprang into the national spotlight ever since Hall of Fame coach Mack Brown came back to Chapel Hill in 2019.

This particular squad has a lot of potential. In 2018, they had a two-win season. But, since then, with Brown and his staff, they went to a bowl game in 2019 and had an Orange Bowl appearance last season.

With a lot of talent returning on both sides of the ball, including quarterback Sam Howell, who is already in the Heisman conversation, UNC has the components to be a playoff team — but they have to earn it.

“What we’ve told them is, quit talking about it and do it. And that’s your work every day. So they understand that we’re not talking about the first three games anyway. That is our season right now. We aren’t even talking about the opener yet. But what we are talking about is being the best team we can be,” said Brown.

Howell also spoke about the upcoming season.

“I think we talked early on. Everyone knows the hype we have surrounding our program and I think it’s well deserved. But also, the hype isn’t going to win football games. You got to put the work in every single day and I think (the) team has done a really good job not letting the hype get to us,” said Howell.

Brown returns for the third season of his second stint as head coach in Chapel Hill.

This year’s team has something his previous teams didn’t — depth. That’s got to be a favorite word of both offensive and defensive coordinators. Depth means they can keep guys fresh and get their best when they’re on the field.

“We’ve talked to our team, we’ve got more depth. As coaches, you have to manage that and handle it. So what we’re talking to our players about is, ‘we want you to play fewer plays. Be more rested and get more production, with fewer plays.’ And that will be one of the goals as we continue to move forward,” added Brown.

The Tar Heels open their season Sept. 3 at Virginia Tech.