Where: BB&T Field, Winston-Salem, NC
When: Saturday, September 8th, 3:00 PM
TV: Fox Sports South
Records: UNC 1-0, 0-0 ACC; Wake Forest 1-0, 0-0 ACC
Conference and state playoff opener.
After rolling over Elon last week, UNC faces its first real test of the season against a well-coached Demon Deacon team on the road. The Heels will face a Wake Forest team that barely escaped Liberty last weekend but is certainly better than that outing showed.
Aside from being the first road game under Larry Fedora, all eyes will continue to be on the new offensive and defensive scheme to see how both perform when taking on an opponent of higher caliber. The Wake Forest offense will certainly present its share of troubles for the Tar Heels. QB Tanner Price is talented and experienced enough to make solid decisions in the pocket. Michael Campanaro is a legitimate receiving threat having tallied 96 yards on nine catches a week ago. UNC did a solid job covering Elon's Aaron Mellette holding him to just two receptions on the day. The Heels' secondary will face a similar challenge with Campanaro with the additional pressure of having a QB like Price running the offense. Getting to Price will be crucial against a less than stellar Demon Deacon offensive. That means keeping an eye on Sylvester Williams who did his share of damage to various Elon offensive plays in the opener.
On the offensive side of the ball there is but one question: What will Gio Bernard do? Bernard was pulled from the game versus Elon late in the first half. That was after Bernard had already racked up over 200 yards of total offense despite only having played a half. Now the red shirt sophomore will face a tougher defense and presumably get the whole game to display his running prowess. A year ago, Bernard went for a 154 yards and three touchdowns. A similar type of day is certainly possible, especially given Fedora's stated intention to use Bernard as often as possible. In addition to Bernard, Bryn Renner and the capability of the offense to make use of multiple receivers cannot be overlooked. The balanced attack Fedora is striving for puts an opposing defense in a tough position of picking one poison over another.
Ultimately, UNC has Bernard and depth of talent on both sides to overcome Wake Forest. This game will be a tougher test versus a Wake Forest team who will bounce back strongly from a weak performance against Liberty. UNC will take the day but not without a well fought battle.
UNC 38 Wake Forest 27