The North Carolina football team is exactly where it would have wanted to be midway through the season, as the Tar Heels sit at 6-1 entering a bye week and showing the way in the ACC Coastal Division.

Carolina has played exceptional offense from the start, as Drake Maye, Josh Downs, Omarion Hampton and company have put together what is among the nation’s most dangerous scoring attacks.

The defense has been much worse, though a couple better performances against Virginia Tech and Miami to start ACC play has helped start the conference year out 3-0.

With 7 games now in the rear-view mirror, here are the Tar Heels’ 5 most valuable players so far:

Antoine Green

One side of Carolina’s 2-headed veteran monster at wide receiver, Green has returned from an early injury to be a go-to target of Maye.

Green has played just 4 games after missing the first 3, but since his return he has been great. He has 13 catches for 384 yards, as his big-play ability has been a major asset for the Tar Heels. With 4 touchdowns, including the winning score this past Saturday against Duke, Green has come through in big moments.

He’s not Maye’s primary target, but he has proven to be a reliable 2nd option who has made a major difference since returning to the mix.

Cedric Gray

Carolina’s defense as a whole has been pretty bad, but Gray has been the exception.

The veteran linebacker leads Carolina with 74 total tackles, and he’s tied for 2nd on the team with 4.5 tackles for loss. With 2 interceptions, Gray is the only player on Carolina’s roster with multiple picks, and he has a forced fumble, too.

While UNC’s defense has been mostly a liability, there is some good on that side of the ball for the Tar Heels. Gray is a really talented player, and he has been by far the most important man on coordinator Gene Chizik’s unit.

Omarion Hampton

Replacing Ty Chandler at running back was going to be a tall task coming into the year, and the season-ending injury to British Brooks before the season began didn’t help.

All of that might have moved the timeline up a bit on freshman Omarion Hampton, but the young back has proven he has what it takes to be the main man at this level. He has 345 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns on the year, and he’s averaging 4.7 yards per carry.

Other backs also have played well for Carolina, but it has been Hampton who has featured more than anyone. The Tar Heels have a high-flying offense that lives with Maye, but Hampton’s abilities in the rushing game already have made a difference in a few contests.

Josh Downs

Carolina has an absolute stud at wide receiver in Downs, an All-ACC performer who once again is showing he’s the cream of the crop in the league.

Downs missed 2 games with injury, but he still leads the Heels and sits 2nd in the ACC with 425 receiving yards. His 5 touchdown catches are tied for the ACC high, and he already has 2 100-yard receiving games on the year.

When the Heels need a big play, it’s often Downs who makes it. He’s fast. He’s skilled. And he’s maybe the best receiver in the conference.

Drake Maye

The unquestioned MVP of Carolina’s season so far has been Maye, who has burst onto the scene in his 1st year as a starter for the Tar Heels.

Maye’s 2,283 passing yards lead the ACC by more than 600 yards, and his 24 passing touchdowns are 7 more than any other quarterback in the league. Maye also leads the Tar Heels in rushing with 378 yards and has 3 touchdowns, as he really is doing it all this year.

The 1st half of the season has been more than great for Maye. He’s putting up historic numbers and likely is to break a handful of school passing records, and as the Heels keep winning there’s a good chance his name at least could start to make a buzz in Heisman talks.

He’s the real deal, the quarterback who Carolina fans were hopeful he would be. So far, it has been almost nothing but good for Maye.