Football’s back, y’all! Carolina and Cal kick off a little less than five days from now in beautiful Kenan Stadium. That sentence makes me so freaking happy.
Who’s Going to Play?
Larry Fedora would love to have a couple of extra weeks of fall practice, not that he hasn’t been big on coach-speak in the past. Truth is, injuries on the offensive line to Bentley Spain and Tommy Hatton and backs Stanton Truitt and Antwaun Branch have muddied the waters on Carolina’s depth chart.
(Initially, this post had a guess at the depth chart for Saturday. With Larry Fedora’s game week media availability, we get the real thing.)
A few things to note:
- The double “OR” at quarterback, lending credence to the likelihood that we see some of Brandon Harris, Chazz Surratt, and Nathan Elliott;
- Thomas Jackson getting the nod over Dazz Newsome at A-back-- seems the coaches wanted Newsome to get as many reps with the 1’s as possible and let Jackson get some valuable experience outside, hopefully giving the O a little more flexibility;
- The two interior linemen with the most upside from 2017 and beyond, Tommy Hatton and Jared Cohen, are nowhere to be seen. Cohen has left the program (again), and Hatton is AWOL. Not ideal.
- Gone are the days of the big, lumbering ends on both side, as evidenced by Tomon Fox and Malik Carney sharing one side of the depth chart. One of those two will likely lead the team in havoc plays, while Tyler Powell and Dajaun Drennon shore up the run D on the other side.
- Corey Bell’s emergence in camp is real, judging by his outright win at one of the corner spots. If he is markedly better than he was in 2016, all the better for the Heels. K.J. Sails and Patrice Rene will continue to push for his spot, and both will play extensively as M.J. Stewart slides to the nickel.
- Freeman Jones gets the first shot to replace Nick Weiler at placekicker. Meanwhile, the return group is all over the place: Anthony Ratliff-Williams and Dazz Newsome are on kicks. There’s a little bit of cause for concern with two of the most valuable/experienced players at positions of need on the roster— Austin Proehl returning punts, M.J. Stewart backing up both kick and punt returners— listed.
There Was Football on Saturday
This past weekend was like edamame at a sushi place—yeah, its food, but its not making me any less hungry.
Watching NC native Bryce Love (13 carries, 180 yards) run all over Rice was bittersweet, he’d have been useful in Chapel Hill this year. Stanford, along with USC and Washington, make for a stable top of the Pac-12.
Colorado State opened their new stadium with a 58-27 shellacking of Oregon State, and Mike Bobo is going to be on the short list for any ACC or SEC jobs opening up this winter.
South Florida was shaky, but got it together to win 42-22 at San Jose State. Another running back with Carolina ties, former UNC commit D’Ernest Johnson, ran for 99 yards and 2 scores.
What About This Week?
Thursday marks the return of weeknight football to your televisions. Ohio State/Indiana gets the ESPN Megacast treatment, but Tulsa/Oklahoma State is the game to watch that night.
Hurricane Harvey is making it highly unlikely BYU and LSU will play in Houston on Saturday, and football Twitter was abuzz with fans thinking LSU AD Joe Alleva was snaking his way into another home game. That’s...the stupid side of college football fandom. Go ahead and donate to those misplaced by this tragedy instead.
The ACC, defending its belt as the best football conference in America, opens as follows:
- Presbyterian at Wake Forest, 6:30
- Central Connecticut State at Syracuse, 7
- Boston College at Northern Illinois, 9:30
- Kent State at Clemson, 12
- Cal at Carolina, 12:20
- Bethune-Cookman at Miami, 12:30
- Youngstown State at Pitt, 1
- N.C. State vs. South Carolina (Charlotte), 3
- William and Mary at Virginia, 3:30
- N.C. Central at Duke, 6 (with both games on the ACC Network, why can’t Carolina get this timeslot?)
- Louisville vs. Purdue (Indianapolis), 7:30
- Alabama vs. Florida State (Atlanta) 8
Sunday (yeah, you get four days in a row)
- Virginia Tech vs. West Virginia (Washington, D.C.) 7:30
- Georgia Tech vs. Tennessee (Atlanta), 8