In a sad sign of the times, we found out this week that Franklin Street is no longer closed down for Halloween.
The Chapel Hill Police Department told The Daily Tar Heel that it will not be closing Franklin Street because of a lack of people downtown. The Town previously said it would be closing several streets.— DTH City & State (@DTHCityState) November 1, 2023
Will a similar lack of enthusiasm, rowdiness, and energy befall fair Kenan Stadium? One shudders at the possibility as many Tar Heel fans are no doubt jaded after Carolina fell flat on their faces in Atlanta. Again.
Initially an annoyance on the schedule to have Campbell in the back leg rather than first in line, Mack Brown must be breathing a sigh of relief to see the Camels trod off the desert sand dunes of Buies Creek, NC to the rolling green hills in Blue Heaven. Campbell have the misfortune of not facing an undefeated UNC team that could sleepwalk its tune-up game before Duke, but instead going head-to-head with a furious bunch of superior athletes desperate to get their season back on track.
Standards have to be set, and unfortunately for the Camels, they will be set across Campbell’s chest and face. Nothing short of brutal punishment of their championship subdivision opponents will suffice.
Fifth-year senior quarterback Hajj-Malik Williams has quietly put together a pretty nice season tossing the football. He’s completing 73.3% of his passes, and has thrown 16 touchdowns to just five interceptions. His yardage totals will not be confused with Drake Maye, but Carolina isn’t usually hurt by the deep bomb, it’s the short easy tosses that keep drives alive. Joey Aguilar at App State comes to mind.
Williams can also run, though Campbell seems selective on how often he will. In Campbell’s loss at Richmond last week, he ran a season-high 12 times for 47 yards. The three previous games, he never ran more than four times. It seems a safe bet that if Carolina can bottle up the run, they can contain Williams and limit him to short throws underneath. Then it becomes a question on whether or not the Tar Heels can tackle in open space. They’d better prove they can, because they’re going to get plenty of opportunities to do so against Duke.
Campbell’s most dangerous receiver figures to be 6’2” graduate student Jalen Kelsey. He is their vertical threat, and although his output has been inconsistent this season, he has on occasion put up some eye-opening numbers. His day at NC Central will give Eagle fans nightmares: seven receptions for 172 yards and two touchdowns.
Carolina doesn’t need any of that.
Can UNC’s corners and safeties sufficiently cover Campbell’s receivers? If yes, maybe Gene Chizik won’t feel the need to put his defense in nickel packages on obvious running downs. Showing they can cover the Camels will go a long way towards curing Chizik’s fear of getting hit from the back.
The Tar Heel defense needs to feel what it’s like to sack a quarterback again. They failed to register a single one at Georgia Tech after getting just two against Virginia. You gotta pump those numbers up. Those are rookie numbers in this racket.
Prediction: UNC 49, Campbell 21