After a deflating loss to South Carolina the Heels have rebounded nicely with demolitions of NC A&T and Illinois. This week will most likely feature more of the same as FCS foe Delaware comes to Chapel Hill. Delaware has gotten off to a slow start to the season, winning one of their three games. The Blue Hens lost their opener at home to Jacksonville before a home win over Lafayette and a defeat last week to Villanova. The constant for Delaware in all these games has been a lack of ability to score. The Blue Hens have averaged only 18 points per game so far this season and that really restricts their potential to score a huge upset against the Heels.
The Blue Hens are led by freshman Quarterback Joe Walker. Walker has not been great so far this year, completing 20 passes on 52 attempts with one interception and no touchdowns. Walker does run frequently but has only managed 130 yards on 34 attempts for 3.82 yards per carry. Walker's lackluster numbers make it hard to pin down who on the team he will throw to besides number one wideout Diante Cherry. Cherry has 13 catches for 146 yards this season which far and away leads the Blue Hens. Cherry has also thrown a touchdown pass on a trick play but has not yet broken the plane himself. Tre Brown is another wide receiver who figures to be involved in the Delaware passing attack. Brown has six catches this season and is the only Delaware player with a catch in all three games.
In addition to Walker's own runs, the Blue Hens have a deep group of running backs. Delaware has given the ball to an average of five runners (not counting the QB Walker) in each game this year. The core of the ground game is made up of Jalen Randolph and Thomas Jefferson. Randolph is more of an every-down bruiser who we should expect to get about 12-15 carries in this game. Jefferson is more explosive, he gets about 6 carries per game and has averaged 6.2 yards per carry this season. The Blue Hens will trot out other backs and their backs will be involved in the passing game as well but this offense is pretty lackluster in most aspects.
The Delaware defense has been pretty good so far this year, they give up an average of only 19 points per game. The defense should be over matched against Carolina though. The Blue Hens played seven true freshmen in their opener on defense and these very raw players now travel to Chapel Hill--it could get ugly. The strength of the Delaware defense has been its defense against the run. The Blue Hens have not allowed an opponent to get more than 3.2 yards per carry in any game this year. The passing defense has been what has let the Blue Hens down as each team has completed more than 50% of their pass attempts against Delaware and Villanova--the best team they've played so far--torched them for 8.8 yards per attempt. The defense is pretty good at forcing turnovers, having forced four in three games this season. The defensive captain, David Tinsley, is also a good pass rusher averaging a sack per game.
Stop the Run:
Carolina still has not held opponents to 5.4, 3.8 and 5.0 yards per attempt so far this season. Carolina should shoot for holding Delaware to 2. The Heels have also not done a good job against mobile quarterbacks this year so bottling up Walker would be a good showing as well. The Heels need to practice good fundamentals in this game, have the tackles penetrate into the backfield and take runners down.
Rush the Passer:
While the defensive tackles are getting upfeild, it would be great if they could take down the quarterback. The Heels' pass rush has been anemic at best so far this season and this would be a nice game to get on track. If coach Chizik wants to try some new personnel alignments this would also be a good game to do that and see if he can find a set of linemen which can produce some sacks.
Carolina should have no problem with this game. But they should score on their first four or five drives and then let the first team rest up. Carolina has a pretty nice ACC slate but the opener in Atlanta is probably the hardest game. The Heels should get off the field early and start prepping for GT in a week.