Where: Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill, NC
When: Saturday, September 14th, 12:00 PM
TV: Raycom/Lincoln Financial Regional
Records: UNC 1-1, 0-0 ACC; UVa 1-1, 1-0 ACC
I realized I made a bit of an short sighted statement earlier this week when I referred to UNC's running game as the last remaining question to be answered. The defense has a rather large question mark next to it after ECU's Patrick Pinkney threw for over 400 yards last week. Much of the problem UNC faced had to do with players missing assignments and blowing coverages 10-15 yards from the line of scrimmage. The lack of pressure on the quarterback also enabled Pinkney plenty of time do carve up the suspect coverage. Of course the upside this week is UVa is probably just as suspect on offense as UNC has been so far on defense. The QB situation looks like UNC's last season this despite the fact that the Cavs thought they had their starter in the person of Jameel Sewell. Fellow Heels fans will recall that it was Sewell who ripped UNC apart on ESPN's Thursday Night Game last season which included some vague statement from Dick Baddour which set the stage for The Coach Who Shall Not Be Named being fired three days later. This season Sewell has been less than impressive and freshman Peter Lalich took care of business during the Duke game. Groh has indicated he is going to use the vaunted QB carousel which should be plenty challenging for the UNC defense to cover. The UVA offense has been rather anemic going back to last season and so far this year not much has changed.
As for the respective other sides of the ball for each team the matchup will be strength on strength. The Tar Heel passing game is ranked 1st in the league in passing efficiency on the strength of T.J. Yates who has been a pleasant surprise with his ability to make the big play and stayed composed in the pocket. The running game has been uncertain for UNC mainly because there is some debate as to which of the three "starters" is going to assume the lead role. After the ECU game Johnny White has been highly praised by the coaching staff and has been significantly better than Anthony Elzy and Richie Rich statistically speaking. It will be interesting to see if Butch Davis opts to begin leaning more heavily on White over the other two or if they will continue to equally share the load.
The UVa defense is clearly the better side of the ball for the Cavs, especially the rushing defense. The passing defense will be the first real challenge for Yates and the receiving corps. Given the even matchup the game will likely hinge on which team's forte gets the best of the others as well as how well special teams is handled. Both teams struggled last week with special teams play and the all purpose play of Brandon Tate could very well be a game breaker.
UNC 24 UVa 20