Back in 2010, Tennessee pulled out of a scheduled series with UNC which often results in quirky scheduling in the long run. This game is one such quirk in the schedule as UNC welcomes the Vandals of Idaho to Chapel Hill
At this stage in UNC's season, the Heels are one win off what most expected. The loss at Wake Forest still sticks out as a game the Heels should have won. Still for UNC to be 2-2 at this point is not overly surprising nor any reason to think the season is in jeopardy. That record should move to 3-2 unless something goes horribly wrong given the Vandals come in at 0-4 that includes a 63-14 drubbing at the hands of LSU. The importance of getting to 3-2 with naught but ACC schools the rest of the way cannot be understated. Playing well, especially on the defensive side of the ball is also a priority since it would be nice to have some momentum when Virginia Tech comes calling next weekend.
A quick look at Idaho's stats is a pretty clear explanation why the Vandals are 0-4. Idaho has committed 11 turnovers in four games for a -7 turnover margin. Six of those miscues came through the air with junior QB Dominique Blackman throwing five INTs vs six TDs. Blackman has passed for an average of 277 yards per game which is a solid number and could test UNC's sometimes suspect secondary. The Vandals' running game is nearly non-existent with an 80 ypg average. On the defensive side, Idaho has been hit or miss stopping the run but some of that has to do with the opponent. LSU went for 250 yards against the Vandals but Bowling Green and Wyoming went for less than 100 however Wyoming did appear to be more interested in the pass than the run.
For UNC, the clear goal of the offense is to get Giovani Bernard back into form. Bernard was less than spectacular a week ago in his first game back vs ECU since injuring his knee in the season opener against Elon. If Bernard is to go on to have an impact in ACC play, a game like this is perfect for him to get his legs under him and ramp up his production. Bryn Renner is starting to look comfortable in the offense and this contest provides another opportunity to get better acclimated. On defense, tackling in general seems to be a weak point and that is not a scheme issue but one of individual execution.
This should be a nice warm-up before UNC ends the season with seven ACC contests. In that mix are games versus NC State and Duke which constitute the biggest prizes in a season which is being played under a postseason ban.
UNC 45 Idaho 17