What: Chick-Fila Kickoff Classic
Where: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA
When: Saturday, September 4th, 8:00 PM
Records: Opener for both teams
Hey look! Football!
Now that we have actually settled who will take the field for UNC we can assemble some sort of picture of what this game might look like. In short, it could be ugly. UNC will face LSU without their top two running backs and their best WR. On defense seven defensive starters will be sitting in Chapel Hill including the entire secondary and 3/4 of the defensive line. The news UNC would have Quan Sturdivant and Bruce Carter was a boost but still makes the task ahead difficult.
On defense I echo a pair of salient points brought up by Doc last night. The first is LSU's offense is not a juggernaut by any stretch of the imagination. In fact LSU was 112th in total offense last season which was actually below UNC's 108th ranked production. It is possible LSU will do a bit of hurting themselves despite whatever deficiencies UNC might have on defense. That being said, the Tar Heel defensive line is still good. Donte Paige-Moss was the #1 ranked DE in the class of 2009. Tydreke Powell and Quentin Coples are no slouches either. If the line plays well along with Sturdivant and Carter at linebacker, the front seven can possibly hold its own. The real concern comes in the secondary. None of the players listed as starting at the safety and cornerback slots were highly rated coming into the program nor do they have experience. In short UNC could have trouble if LSU decides to pass the ball thought we are talking about the 97th ranked passing offense from last season.
On the offensive side, losing Shaun Draughn and Ryan Houston exasperates greatly the problem of T.J. Yates. A healthy and effective offensive line along with Draughn and Houston was supposed to limit the need for Yates to pass which would in turn reduce the number of bad turnovers. Now UNC heads into this game with Johnny White as the starting tailback backed up by Anthony Elzy and Hunter Furr. In some ways White and Elzy are not unknown commodities. They have been around, gotten some carries over the past couple of seasons and appear to be perfectly capable of carrying the load. White and Elzy have to step up and give UNC a boost by chewing up yards. The defense has depth issues and keeping them off the field will be pertinent. When Yates does pass who will he be looking at? Zach Pianalto is his favorite target. Jhey Boyd and Erik Highsmith have potential. It is a safe bet UNC OC John Shoop will employ some misdirections and a reverse or two along with loads of short passes. Yates will have to step up and play in a way that quite frankly not many people think he is capable of playing. At this point I am not sure you don't employ Bryn Renner some since he is more mobile.
All the football issues aside, for UNC to win this game it may very well come down to intangibles. UNC players are well aware that everyone is writing them off in this game. Their best bet is to rally together as a team and have the senior leaders on this team step up to make plays. If UNC goes into this game using the current circumstances as motivation I would not put it past them to somehow find a way to win the game. They have nothing to lose and all the pressure is on LSU who will be facing a depleted team. Needless to say it will be a far worse Sunday for Les Miles if UNC pulls this game out than it will be for UNC if LSU handles the Heels.
At any rate, thank goodness actual football is here. Go Heels!
LSU 24 UNC 17