Where: Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill, NC
When: Saturday, September 3rd, 3:30 PM
TV: Fox Sports South
Records: Season opener for both teams
Okay who is ready for some Tar Heel football?
Unlike a year ago, UNC goes into the season opener with a full team and without the cloud of an NCAA investigation hanging over the program. The NCAA business has moved into its waning moments and the impact on this season should be minimal. In fact even the injury bug has been gracious enough not to bite the Heels too hard in training camp meaning UNC is operating with as much of the roster intact as one could hope for at this point.
As I noted to the JMU Sports Blog, I expect Everett Withers and the Tar Heels are taking this game and opponent seriously. We are sort of past the point where FCS school are looked down upon, at least the likes of James Madison, Appalachian St or Villanova. These teams compete in their division which means they are not to be taken lightly. JMU proved this point a year ago in beating Virginia Tech before ending up with a barely over .500 record. There is also an element of getting this season off to a good start. With all the turmoil surrounding the program the last think UNC needs is to play poorly or lose a game like this at the front end of the schedule. The first few games should afford UNC a chance to get a some wins and build confidence before the meat of the schedule ensues.
While JMU should be afford utmost respect, if UNC ends up pulling off a fairly easy win it will mean very little in figuring this team out. That is unless a player or unit struggles in a significant way. Concerns about the secondary or the offense might be exasperated if JMU has a big passing day or the Tar Heel offense sputters. However there is also the fact this is the first game and season openers are notoriously bad in offering anything substantive to predict the future on. In other words we might learn something, we might not learn anything but we will see and talk about Tar Heel football on the field. That will be a most welcome change.
UNC 35 JMU 10
Side note: This game marks the debut of Jones Angell on the Tar Heel Sports Network. It will be interesting to see how he does.