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UNC vs #23 UConn

Where: Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill, NC
When: Saturday, October 4th, 7:00 PM
TV: ESPN2
Records: UNC 3-1; UConn 5-0

Yet another major test.

This is considered the fourth straight tough game for UNC.  It started with Rutgers who turned out to be not that good but still UNC had to win an outside of NC road game on Thursday night.  Then came Virginia Tech, who pulled the rug out late on UNC and took TJ Yates down when they did it.  After that tough loss came the great comeback to beat Miami on the road.  What would be nice is seeing someone like Virginia on the other sideline but instead the Heels have to contend with UConn who is 5-0 and recently cracked the Top 25.

Butch Davis says he will play both Cam Sexton and Mike Paulus but I suspect it will be more Sexton than Paulus since the former is getting more of the snaps in practice this week.  We can only speculate for how Davis intends to sub Paulus in.  For Sexton, who played a great game last week, will be looking to do two things: Prove it was not a fluke and by extension of that demonstrate he can be that good on a consistent basis.  Sexton showed he can be smart with the football under pressure and with the trio of Nicks, Tate and Foster, all Sexton is required to do is get the ball in the hands of these guys and let their legs do the rest.  How well does UConn defend the pass?  The Huskies are 43rd in pass defense and allowed Louisville(52nd in pass offense) to throw for 247 yards, one touchdown and snagged two INTs.  UNC has the 48th ranked pass offense in the country so in many ways this is a pretty tough matchup between a good UConn secondary and good UNC passing game.  On the flipside of that particular matchup, UConn does not pass the ball and when they do it is with poor results.  On top of that, UConn lost their starting QB versus Louisville and will lean on sophomore Zach Frazier but I would not expect to see him passing that much.

No, this game will be similar to VT and Miami in that UNC will need to stop the run on defense and find some ways to run the ball on offense.  UConn's Donald Brown has run for over 900 yards and 11 touchdowns in five games.  Against Louisville's 11th ranked rushing defense he went for 190 and against the weaker run defenses of Temple and UVa he clocked over 200 on the ground.  So stopping Brown will be paramount.  There will be much pressure on the defensive line to control the line of scrimmage and avoid giving Brown too many gaping holes to exploit.  The strategy here is the same as the VT game: Force UConn to pass the football where they are notably weaker, though there is no certainty on what kind of game to expect from Frazier since he saw limited time versus Louisville.  Still, UConn will look to run first and if the Heels can stop that, there may be some fun to be had for Trimane Goddard and the boys in the secondary. As for UNC's running game.  Who knows  Hopefully it will show up.  Louisville certainly ran hog wild on the Huskies and you have to hope the Heels can find a way to do the same.

I will refrain from calling this "the biggest game since yada yada yada."  Instead I prefer to see it as another step in a season of steps that hopefully lead to the Heels establishing themselves in tier above where they are now.  VT was a missed opportunity but the Heels got something back in beating Miami.  Now with a ranked and undefeated opponent coming to Kenan in a Saturday night nationally televised game, this is certain huge chance to demonstrate UNC football is ready for primetime.

UNC 30 UConn 21