Where: Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill, NC
When: Saturday, September 10th, 12:30 PM
TV: ACC Network
Records: UNC 1-0, Rutgers 1-0
The next step.
One of the biggest dangers facing this UNC team happens in this game. No, I am not talking so much about Rutgers though the Scarlet Knights should be taken very seriously. The danger lies in whether this team which played so well versus James Madison will be as focused and disciplined as they were a week ago. Heading into last week's game there was a clear chip-on-the-shoulder mentality. The players felt they had something to prove. The turmoil surrounding the program motivated the Tar Heels to come out versus James Madison and take care of business. Everett Withers needed a solid start from his team to get the train squarely on the tracks and that is what happened.
Now that first game is behind them, UNC must continue to be as focused and disciplined while going through the "routine" of the season. The focus, disciplined and execution UNC had last week should be the way this team does business not some flash in the pan because they were motivated by the circumstances. This is where the real challenge starts for Withers in getting this team to be consistent from week to week. It also a matter of dealing with setbacks and adversity. Save a handful of plays, everything was easy for UNC last weekend. That won't be the case this week. Rutgers will be a step up in opposition. How Bryn Renner responds to more defensive pressure or an incomplete pass will be crucial. Likewise the much maligned secondary will need to be much better than they were a week ago.
As for Rutgers, the Scarlet Knights are hoping to improve on a less than stellar 2010 campaign. UNC won 17-13 at Rutgers a year ago, one of a few close losses for RU. However the Scarlet Knights were last in both offense and defense in the Big East so generally speaking this was not a good team last season. The outlook for Rutgers should be an improved one but only time will tell that. RU did whip NC Central 48-0 last week but like UNC's win over James Madison the grain of salt rule applies.
One of the reasons RU is hopeful for a better season lies with a man UNC fans know quite well. Former Tar Heel offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti has taken a similar position with the Scarlet Knights. Cignetti was OC during John Bunting wretched final season(2006) during which we were all subjected to Joe Dailey at the QB position. Yes, there was also some Cam Sexton thrown into there to the point you simply felt sorry for him seeing he was only a freshman. In short there was nothing spectacular about UNC's offense under Cignetti but I am not sure it is even fair to draw conclusions considering how bad the QB options were at that point. Incidentally this is not the first time UNC has seen Cignetti since he left UNC. Cignetti was at Pitt from 2009-10 and UNC played the Panthers in the Car Care Bowl in 2009. This will be the first time Cignetti has been back to Chapel Hill and as a welcoming gift he faces UNC's defense. Have fun with that Frank.
Another point of interest(more so for UNC fans) is RU's freshman RB Savon Huggins. It was Huggins, who during his college commitment press conference earlier this year, donned a UNC hat as though he was picking the Heels before taking it off and choosing Rutgers. Yeah, I know. These kids and their wacky college decision press conferences. It's all about making a splash or something. Still, is it wrong to hope Quinton Coples buries this kid six yards deep in his own backfield on his first carry?
UNC 33 Rutgers 20