Thursday, October 16, 2008

game preview: North Carolina


TV: ABC in ACC-land, ESPN2 in Florida, the Northeast, and Big Ten country

History against the Tar Heels: 52-56-4

Last matchup: UVA 22, UNC 20

Team records: UVA 3-3 (1-1), UNC 5-1 (1-1)

Last week: UVA beat East Carolina 35-20, UNC beat Notre Dame 29-24

Line: UNC by 4.5

UNC blogs: Tar Heel Fan, Tar Heel Mania, Tareye or Buckheel

UNC season preview here.

UVA injury report:

OUT: LB Aaron Clark, RB Max Milien, FB Keith Payne, K Yannick Reyering, LB Bill Schautz, TE Joe Torchia

DOUBTFUL: OT Landon Bradley

QUESTIONABLE: RB Mikell Simpson

PROBABLE: WR Maurice Covington, DE Kevin Crawford, TE Andrew Devlin, OG Austin Pasztor, DE Zane Parr, TE Crutcher Reiss, OG Zak Stair

UNC injury report:

OUT: TE Zack Pianalto, QB T.J. Yates, DB Richie Rich, TE Randy White, WR Brandon Tate

DOUBTFUL: None

QUESTIONABLE: OL Bryon Bishop, DL Greg Elleby, LB Linwan Euwell, WR Rashad Mason

PROBABLE: DL Quinton Coples, DL Darrius Massenburg, DL Tydreke Powell

I confess to actually liking North Carolina quite a bit. Of all schools in the country they are undoubtedly the most like us, and I have a soft spot for schools with beautiful campuses. UNC is unquestionably a rivalry - the South's Oldest, you know - but unlike Maryland or VT, there isn't a bone of hate in my body for the Heels. But! There's a streak to consider.

HOW WE CAN WIN

- A healthy dose of Cedric Peerman, naturally, it's how we always win these days.

- Hakeem Nicks. He's good, see. He's frightful. And with Brandon Tate done, the Heels will look to him all day long. Brooks Foster is also a quality player but something of a possession receiver. Nicks is averaging almost 100 yards a game and must be stopped at all costs. Zack Pianalto is the Heels' starting TE but doesn't really figure as a receiver, not the way Phillips does for us, so his loss doesn't hurt the passing game much. Nicks is their guy. Whoever's assigned to him, Dowling or Hall, has got to shut him down. Nicks will be the first place that Cameron Sexton looks, all the time; if he's covered, the chances of the play breaking down go way the hell up.

- Don't come up craps when we roll the dice. Reyering is out and the backup kicker is Robert Randolph, who, it must be noted, lost the kicking competition to a German guy who'd never even heard of the game til he crossed the pond. This means that we're gonna be gambling for a few fourth downs in field goal range, and that fake field goal isn't gonna work two weeks in a row. The O-line has so far been awful on fourth down - they must step up when the time comes on Saturday.

- UNC tries to single up on Sintim. It doesn't work and Sexton will find out the hard way if Carolina tries it.

HOW WE CAN LOSE

- For the second week in a row, complacency is the enemy. UNC has the motivation. They got a streak to break. They have five wins, which means that this game is worth bowl eligibility. They have the dreaded Ewing Theory on their side and it's working wonders for them with Sexton. We have the home field - this will help us match their intensity. We'll have to do that every step of the way.

- Let Sexton tear us apart. The UNC running game is meh. It is good but our linebackers are better. But if the linebackers are on their heels because the UNC passing game is working smoothly, then watch out. Sexton is a very good decision maker and knows where and when to throw. If not pressured, he'll find a receiver. It's on the pass rushers to make sure he doesn't have time.

- No running game. I'm probably going to worry about this all year. Jimmah Clausen completed 64% for almost 400 yards last week and look where that got him. Granted, Notre Dame has all but admitted they don't have a running game, but whatever - we've already proven we can't win without one, and UNC has proven they can win when the opponent doesn't have one.

HOW THE GAME WILL GO

I like our chances here. Two very good wins in a row will make me think crazy thoughts like that. In any case we're probably looking at a passing contest. Neither team has a really good consistent rushing attack and you'll probably see both quarterbacks throwing the ball at least 30 times. And I think Verica can match Sexton throw for throw; our receiving corps is deeper and Verica is the more accurate passer. I worry about the running game because frankly it wasn't all that impressive against ECU. The two long gains made it look better on the stat sheet than it was the rest of the day.

This is a bellwether game for the team. If we win, I think we can look at the rest of the schedule and expect to continue to win. If we lose, I think we can look at the rest of the schedule and expect to continue to lose. UNC is ranked, but somewhat depleted, and beatable.


REST OF THE ACC


Enjoy this week. It is the first, and one of only two, in which all ACC teams are playing conference games. Going to be very important in shaking out the conference pecking order, and I think we have here one of the two most important this week; Wake vs. Maryland is the other. The slate:


Florida State 26, NC State 17 on Thursday
Wake Forest @ Maryland, 12:00
Georgia Tech @ Clemson, 12:00
Miami @ Duke, 3:30
Virginia Tech @ Boston College, 8:00

1 comment:

Jacob said...

Congrats on a big win for Virginia. Verica was quite impressive as was Virginia's d. Good luck the rest of the season.