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UNC Football: Coast to Coast

What effect will two road games on opposite shores have on the Tar Heels?

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Pull out of California Memorial Stadium and head west on University Avenue until you reach Berkeley Point. From the pier, you are standing in San Francisco Bay with the Pacific just beyond the Golden Gate Bridge.

Hop onto Elm Street from Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, turn on 1st, and make your way down to the boat access. Float on down the Tar River until you hit the Pamlico. After that, you will hit the sound and the Atlantic is on beyond the Outer Banks.

The North Carolina Tar Heels are going coast to coast for the first two games of the season and beyond the opposition on the field, these road games will be a challenge for UNC.

The question was posed to Coach Larry Fedora during his weekly press conference and he stated that he had not faced such logistical challenges as the west coast game versus Cal. In fact, he said that he has sought “a lot of counseling from coaches, sleep specialists- you name it.”

When asked about the schedule for the trip to Berkeley, he said that it was “very detailed,” but he was not willing to share that schedule.

That begs the question: what will the schedule look like for the first game?

We know that the Tar Heels flew out of RDU yesterday afternoon. Based on the football Twitter account, UNC was “Wheels up, Heels up” at 1:40 PM ET:

Gate to gate estimates are around six hours, so the Tar Heels should expect to be off the plane sometime around 4:45 PM local time.

Carolina will have a full day to get acclimated to the time change. This should not be an issue for an east coast team with a 4:00 PM ET kickoff Saturday.

The real challenge will be after the game.

In the best case scenario, the Tar Heels are back on the plane by 8:30 PM PT. Flying west to east will shave 45 minutes or so off the flight time. For these estimates, put the flight time at five hours.

UNC will land back in North Carolina at around 4:30 AM local time Sunday morning.

This is the biggest cause of concern heading into Week Two.

Will players sleep on the flight? Yes, but it will not be a full night’s rest, whether that is because of hours or usual flying conditions.

Will players be unable to sleep on the plane? Of course. Think about when you fly with your family or friends. There is always at least one that cannot do so. Now imagine 50 players and dozens of coaches and staff. You will certainly have some zombies when the plane touches down and the bus rolls back in Chapel Hill.

This will not be a normal Sunday for the team and in many aspects they are losing a day.

When the Tar Heels travel to the Atlantic seaboard to take on East Carolina, it will not be an easy task, no matter the Pirates’ record from last season.

How will UNC organize their week prior to ECU? This will be one of the top Week Two questions for Fedora during his press conference on September 3.

It will not be quite like a short week as if they were playing Thursday night, but they must modify their schedule since Sunday will likely be lost.

Carolina needs to enter Week Three at least 1-1. Otherwise, it may be a long few weeks until mid to late October.

If the team comes out the other side of the coast to coast swing 2-0, there should be extra praise given to the players, coaches, and support staff for managing this tough logistical challenge.