In case you’ve been hiding under a rock here’s what you’ve missed this week:
All I can say is it sure has been nice to have a little spice put back into this rivalry. I could have done without the two Chancellors lamely apologizing to each other, though. If I was Randy Woodson I would have laughed in Holden Thorp’s face and told him how big a douche he is. Too harsh? C’mon, that’s why they call it a rivalry. Go to hell Carolina!!!
Head-to-Head Results: UNC leads the all-time series with a 63-31-6 record (first game was 1894), but the rivalry has been pretty even recently. The series is split 7-7 over the past 14 meetings with eight of those being decided by 8 points or less. State has won the last 4 in a row, but three of those wins were by a combined 9 points so it hasn’t been in dominating fashion. With a win this weekend, State would match its longest winning streak in the series (5 in a row from ’88 – ’92). The Vegas underdog has won 10 of the past 14 games outright and, good news, Carolina is a 3.5 point favorite in this one.
Interim Head Coach: Everett Withers (1st season, 6-3) … took over a month before the 2011 season started after Butch Davis was fired amid an NCAA investigation.
Players to Watch:
QB Bryn Renner (#2, So.) was a highly rated prep QB that has played very well for the Heels in his first year as starter. He’s completed 72.7% of his passes for 2,195 yards, 19 TDs, and 9 INTs. Had a 4 turnover game against Clemson two weeks ago, but played his best game of the season last week against Wake (21 of 28 for a career-high 338 yards and 3 TDs).
RB Giovani Bernard (#26, RS-Fr.) has been an absolute beast for the Tar Heels in the running game this year. Has 965 yards on 168 carries (5.7 ypc) including six 100-yard rushing performances to go with 11 rushing TDs. Also has 243 yards receiving and 1 TD. Will be the first Tar Heel to run for 1,000 yards in a season since Jonathan Linton did it back in 1997.
WR Dwight Jones (#26, Sr.) is a big, explosive receiver and the go-to guy for Renner and the Heels. Leads the team with 54 catches, 841 yards, and 8 TDs. Should see a lot of coverage by State’s Amerson so that will be one of the more intriguing matchups to watch.
DE Quinton Coples (#90, Sr.) is the biggest NFL prospect on the Heels defense. Right now ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. has him listed #7 on his Big Board. Has great size, strength, and athleticism so will pose a big problem for the struggling NC State offensive line. Has 35 tackles, 7.5 TFLs, 4.5 sacks, and 1 forced fumble.
LB Zach Brown (#47, Sr.) is the team leader in a lot of statistical categories (62 tackles, 9.5 TFLs, 5.5 sacks, 2 INTs, and 2 forced fumbles) on defense. He’s also another highly rated NFL prospect per Mel Kiper Jr. (#21 on the Big Board). Here’s what Kiper has to say about Brown, “An absolute flyer, isn’t big, but he can get after the quarterback, and also back up and cover like a safety.”
Offensive Summary: The Heels have a very balanced offense with some very athletic skill players so they can be very tough to defend. The winner in this series is usually the team that runs the ball best so I expect the Heels to run the ball early and often. If I was the Pack, though, I’d stack the box and make Renner beat me.
Defensive Summary: This isn’t last year’s Heels defense, but they are still very formidable.They are very active along the front seven with several NFL caliber players that can take over and dominate a game. They really struggle in the secondary, however, so expect the Pack to put pressure on them by taking some shots down the field.
Keys to the Game:
1. Good start … We have only scored 24 first quarter points all season and 0 against BCS conference opponents. We have to come out with some intensity and get on the scoreboard early.
2. Big plays … Our team (offense, defense, and special teams) has lived off the big plays. It would be nice to just grind out a win, but we don’t have the horses for that so we have to get some big plays Saturday and keep the Heels from having any big plays of their own.
3. The trenches … We have struggled the most this year on the offensive and defensive lines. On offense we haven’t protected Glennon very well and haven’t been able to run the ball consistently. On defense we have struggled stopping the run and getting pressure on the quarterback. We have to find a way to reverse these trends.
Prediction: As much as I want the Pack to win, I just don’t see it, but it’s a heated rivalry and you never know what’s going to happen. I do know this … DFCF is gonna be loud, so apologies in advance to those that sit around me. Go Pack!