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Chad Floyd: 2009 North Carolina Campus Correspondent ACC Kickoff Recap August 3, 2009 It was a fun weekend in the relaxed setting of Greensboro’s Grandover Resort, as coaches, players, and media gathered to open the 2009 ACC football season in style. Each team brought two player representatives and their head coaches to talk football and temper or create expectations for the upcoming season. John Swofford discussed the recent success of the ACC at the Commissioner’s Forum on Sunday afternoon. Citing examples such as the NCAA record 10 teams that represented the ACC in bowls last season, he expects the league to take another giant step in improving its image nationally. It was amazing how open the players were to the media. C.J. Spiller of Clemson signed autographs and took pictures, Dekoda Watson of Florida State looked everyone in the eye and tried to respond to questions from the representatives by name, and North Carolina’s very own E.J. Wilson spoke at length about the respect the team has for Butch Davis. The coaches were a bit better at tempering their expectations for 2009. Every question directed at Bobby Bowden made it seem as if they were about to play the New England Patriots. When asked about the Seminoles’ matchup with North Carolina this season, he replied, “I hope we can keep it close.” When asked about N.C. State quarterback Russell Wilson, Bowden looked the person who posed the question in the eye and simply said, “You just ruined my day. Thanks a lot.” It was that type of weekend in Greensboro, as the mutual respect and rapport of the whole crowd of 450 people was something to behold. As an attendee and avid college football fan, I can say that I didn’t think I could be more excited about football season than I usually am. I was wrong.

Preseason All-ACC Ballot- Offense August 3, 2009 As a member of the media, I had the privilege of voting for the preseason All-ACC team. In parenthesis is the player the media selected. QB- Russell Wilson, N.C. State (Wilson): An easy choice for the media here, as he was sensational down the stretch for the Wolfpack last season. If he can stay healthy, Tom O’Brien’s team has a real shot in the Atlantic. RB- Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech and Darren Evans, Virginia Tech (Dwyer and C.J. Spiller, Clemson): I don’t think Spiller gets the touches at running back to make a real case for first team honors. Dwyer and Evans were both easily over 1000 yards last year, and both look to improve dramatically with more experience. WR- Greg Little, North Carolina, and Travis Benjamin, Miami (Demaryius Thomas, Georgia Tech and Jacoby Ford, Clemson): Somebody is going to have to step up and produce numbers in the absence of North Carolina’s top 5 receivers from last year, and I think Little can exceed expectations. Great after the catch, Little is a tough target to bring down in the open field. Benjamin is a dynamic playmaker who I decided to take a flyer on, because Miami, like North Carolina, has tons of talent at wideout and just needs one to step up. I’m not a huge believer in

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Thomas’ ability to fend off increased attention towards him, or Ford’s ability to stay healthy. TE- Greg Boone, Virginia Tech: Easy choice here, I would think. OT- Anthony Castonzo, Boston College, and Jason Fox, Miami (Castonzo, Fox): You can always count on BC linemen to be solid, and Fox is just a fantastic athlete for his size. One of the easier selections I made. OG- Rodney Hudson, Florida State, and Cord Howard, Georgia Tech (Hudson, Sergio Render, Virginia Tech): Honestly, I thought about voting for Render, but he is just a bit slow and inconsistent for my tastes. Howard will surely get a chance to show some athletic ability as a pulling guard in Paul Johnson’s option system. I think his ability in the open field opening up lanes for Dwyer, Josh Nesbitt, and their slew of running backs gets him some recognition. C- Matt Tennant, Boston College (Tennant): Certainly helped by the fact that he was in attendance, but again, BC linemen are always solid. Phil Costa of Maryland also got consideration from yours truly. K- Matt Bosher, Miami (Bosher): He bailed them out many a time last year, and Randy Shannon stressed the importance of having a consistent kicker over and over again at his table on Monday. Specialist: C.J. Spiller, Clemson (Spiller): An easy choice here, as I think this is his most productive position on the field. He will produce some Heisman-worthy highlights, and if he proves me wrong at tailback, he may jump into legitimate Heisman consideration.

Preseason All-ACC Ballot- Defense August 3, 2009 Since I presented my All-ACC Offense in a previous post, here is the defense. Thankfully, the Tar Heels are well represented on both mine and the official ballots. DE- Willie Young, N.C. State, and Derrick Morgan, Ga. Tech (Young and Jason Worilds, Virginia Tech): Young will have to anchor a Wolfpack D that may be without star LB Nate Irving for most of the season. Since he passed up the chance to be a first-round pick in April’s draft, I think he has the talent. Morgan is the lone holdover from last year on Georgia Tech’s D-line, but the man can play. DT- Marvin Austin, North Carolina, and Vince Ohgobaase, Duke (Austin and Ohgobaase): Two former 5-star recruits, playing at rival schools. I like both of these picks, and both could be firstround picks come April 2010. LB- Quan Sturdivant, North Carolina, Dekoda Watson, Florida State, and Nigel Bradham, Florida State (Sturdivant, Watson, Alex Wujciak, Maryland): OK, OK… I’ll admit. Bradham, as a first-year starter, may have been a bit of a shot in the dark. However, I’ve loved his game since he was in high school, and he and Watson could form one of the better linebacking tandems in the country. Sturdivant teamed with punt-blocker extraordinaire Bruce Carter and speedster Zach Brown won’t make a bad group either. CB- Vic Hall, Virginia, and Patrick Robinson, Florida State (Ras-I Dowling, Virginia, and Kendric Burney, North Carolina): Well, apparently I got the wrong UVA corner. I think Dowling’s shutdown ability will allow Hall a chance to pad his stats this year. Playing double duty at QB should only help his chances of getting this honor. I was shocked that Burney made it, only because Carolina’s corners seem to get picked on by the media. I love this pick though,

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because he can effectively take away half the field and lay the wood. http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=7W20dhmd10Q S- Deunta Williams, North Carolina, and Morgan Burnett, Ga. Tech (Burnett and Kam Chancellor, Virginia Tech): Honestly, it was a three-man race for two spots. I was a little bit disappointed that Deunta was the odd man out, but it’s hard to argue with Burnett and Chancellor. I look for all three to have huge seasons. P- Matt Bosher, Miami (Travis Baltz, Maryland): I still think Bosher is the man to beat here, as he can really boot it. It doesn’t hurt that Miami tends to get a bit more media attention than the Terps.

12 Teams in 12 Days: Boston College Preview August 3, 2009 Coach: Frank Spaziani (1st year at BC, 1-0) Stadium: Alumni, 44,500 (Field Turf) Wins: Northeastern, Kent State, Wake Forest, N.C. State, Central Michigan, at Virginia Losses: at Clemson, Florida State, at Virginia Tech, at Notre Dame, North Carolina, at Maryland Record: 6-6 (3-5 ACC) Bowl Projection: GMAC (ACC #9) Schedule Overview: Boston College is tough to peg because you don’t really know what to expect from them. Losses to Wake, N.C. State, and Virginia are entirely possible, but so too is a win against Maryland. I don’t expect the depleted Eagles to be able to steal wins from any of the top teams in the ACC, but given the erratic nature of the league, I’ll probably be wrong on at least one of them (Clemson, FSU, Virginia Tech, or UNC). Outlook: After such a tumultuous offseason (one which saw their head coach get fired for interviewing with the New York Jets, their star linebacker Mark Herzlich diagnosed with cancer, and quarterback Dominique Davis transferring due to academic issues), I am surprised that I had the Eagles winning enough games to go bowling. I think Frank Spaziani brings enough continuity to the table to keep the 2009 Eagles competitive, but I don’t think we’re going to be seeing them anywhere close to another trip to Tampa in December. I also wanted to take this opportunity to wish Mark Herzlich the best in his battle against cancer. Jonathan Dwyer of Georgia Tech called him “the best linebacker I’ve ever seen,” and I think it is the hope of everyone around the ACC that he can have a speedy and healthy recovery.

Program Alert: UNC/West Virginia Replay August 3, 2009 At 9:30 on ESPNU tonight, a replay of the 2008 Meineke Car Care Bowl will be shown. While Carolina lost this game 31-30 in the final minutes, this was an excellent game with offensive fireworks early, Hakeem Nicks having a field day, and a sellout crowd in Charlotte. If you want to get a feel for how this year’s Tar Heels will be, imagine this group of players (minus Nicks) a year older, wiser, stronger, and more experienced.

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12 Teams in 12 Days: Clemson Preview August 4, 2009 Coach: Dabo Swinney (2nd year at Clemson, 4-3) Stadium: Clemson Memorial, 81,473 (Grass) Wins: Middle Tennessee St., Boston College, TCU, Wake Forest, at Miami, Coastal Carolina, Florida State, Virginia, at South Carolina Losses: at Georgia Tech, at Maryland, at N.C. State Record: 9-3 (5-3 ACC) Bowl Projection: Champs Sports (ACC #4) Schedule Overview: Wins against MTSU, Coastal Carolina, and Virginia should be gimmies. TCU provides a tough nonconference challenge, but I think Clemson has the firepower to win a bluecollar type game in Death Valley. None of the rest of their games are easily predictable, but I think the Tigers harness some of the potential they never reached last year and win 9. Outlook: New head coach Dabo Swinney inherits a team that disappointed out of the gate last year. A blowout loss to Alabama sent the Tigers in a downward spiral and led to Tommy Bowden being chased out the door. Although they lose a ton of skill position talent, they return electrifying running back/return man C.J. Spiller, speedy receiver Jacoby Ford, and a pair of talented young quarterbacks in Willy Korn and Kyle Parker. Defensively, the Tigers should be able to stay in games while the quarterbacks mature. Ends Da’Quan Bowers and Ricky Sapp should be able to give opposing QB’s nightmares if the tandem can stay healthy, and a secondary filled with talent and speed should provide some momentum-changing plays. Clemson has been an enigma for the past 5 years or so. They tend to exceed expectations when they are low, and disappoint when they have high hopes. I think that trend continues this year. At 5-3 in the ACC, I don’t think they will be representing the Atlantic Division in Tampa, but I do consider it a strong possibility.

12 Teams in 12 Days: Florida State Preview August 5, 2009 Coach: Bobby Bowden (34th year at Florida State, 351-117-4 overall) Stadium: Doak Campbell, 82,300 (Grass) Wins: Miami, Jacksonville State, South Florida, at Boston College, Georgia Tech, N.C. State, at Wake Forest, Maryland Losses: at BYU, at North Carolina, at Clemson, Florida Record: 8-4 (6-2 ACC; Atlantic Division Champions) Bowl Projection: Chick-Fil-A (ACC #2) Schedule Overview: I’ll say this: The Noles still aren’t scared to play anyone. In addition to their annual regular season finale against juggernaut Florida, they play Big East power South Florida and a BYU team that is looking to crash the BCS party in Provo. The Jacksonville State game

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should be a snoozer, but I don’t see the Noles going better than 2-2 in the out-of-conference. In conference, they’re done no favors either. While they miss conference favorite Virginia Tech, the other two teams they miss are cellar dwellers Virginia and Duke. None of their conference games are guaranteed wins either, as most of the tougher teams come to Tallahassee and the Noles haven’t played particularly well on the road recently. I’d say a win against Maryland at home seems pretty certain, but none of the other games would be considered locks. Outlook: The Seminoles have struggled this decade, after being THE national power in the 1990’s. Good news is on the horizon, however. Christian Ponder is the first quarterback since the Chris Weinke era in whom the coaches seem confident. The staff, finally, has had a couple of seasons without much turnover, and that continuity could really benefit the Seminoles this year. Legal trouble and injuries have decimated the receiving corps, but I look for Bert Reed to step up and have a big year. Everyone, myself included, loves the potential of sophomore RB Jermaine Thomas, who averaged 7 yards per carry last year. The offensive line, another muchmaligned unit over the 2000’s, is now probably the strongest in the league. It is anchored by preseason All-ACC LG Rodney Hudson and LT Andrew Datko, who was a freshman AllAmerica a season ago. Defensively, the Noles have some talent departing, including 2nd round draft pick and sack specialist Everette Brown. Look for Markus White to step up and replace some of Brown’s numbers. I love their linebacking corps, anchored by preseason All-ACC Dekoda Watson. Amazingly, even he is being pushed by their depth by (my favorite name in the ACC so far) Mister Alexander. I also had Nigel Bradham on my All-ACC ballot and I think he’ll have a tremendous year. They’ll be experienced in the secondary with seniors Patrick & Jamie Robinson and Korey Mangum, and will have great young talent in freshmen A.J. Alexander and Greg Reid. While the Noles may never reach the status of the 1990’s teams again, I expect this to be a year where they can build towards a top 10 season in 2010.

12 Teams in 12 Days: Maryland Preview August 6, 2009 Coach: Ralph Friedgen (9th year at Maryland, 64-36 overall) Stadium: Byrd, 51,500 (Grass) Wins: James Madison, Middle Tennessee St., Clemson, Virginia, Boston College Losses: at California, Rutgers, at Wake Forest, at Duke, at N.C. State, Virginia Tech, at Florida State Record: 5-7 (3-5 ACC) Bowl Projection: None Schedule Overview: The first thing that will jump out to most is, yes, I have them losing at Duke. I’ll address this further with my preview of their season, but they’re too well-coached not to win at least one ACC game. On to the Terps, wins against James Madison and MTSU should be givens. Losses to Cal (top 10 team) and Rutgers (my pick to win the Big East) seem fairly certain by my view. As always with the Terrapins, they will surprise one week and disappoint the next. Therefore, they are impossible to peg in games where the talent levels are similar. The best way to offset this unpredictability was to look at matchups, and thus I see home wins against

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Clemson, Virginia, and BC. 0-3 against the state of North Carolina is tough for me to justify except by saying that all of those games are on the road. Outlook: The most profound difference between the 2008 and 2009 Terrapins should be the defensive scheme. New coordinator Don Brown comes from Massachusetts with a more aggressive, attacking scheme. While this should lead to more turnovers forced by the Terps’ D, inexperience will also lead to huge plays for opposing offenses. 60 of their 85 scholarship players have been on campus for no more than two years. Among those 25 experienced players, however, is a lot of talent. RB Da’Rel Scott illustrates the strength of the running back position in the ACC, as he rushed for 1133 yards last season but wasn’t in the conversation for preseason all-conference. Quarterback Chris Turner provides continuity to the position. Center Phil Costa, my pick for the preseason All-ACC team, anchors a line that only returns two players. Defensively, preseason All-ACC pick Alex Wujciak had 133 tackles last year and anchors the D. Four seniors man a secondary that will be asked to do a lot of single coverage under Brown’s D. As for the players that need to emerge for the Terps to be successful, sophomores Torrey Smith and Tony Logan will try to replace first-round pick Derrius Heyward-Bey at receiver. The front seven, which switches to a 4-3 base this year, only returns two starters. Besides Wujciak, DT Travis Ivey, and outside linebacker Adrian Moten, all of those positions seem up for grabs. The degree of success these players have will be the difference between a winning season and a step back, in my opinion.

12 Teams in 12 Days: N.C. State August 7, 2009 Coach: Tom O’Brien (3rd year at N.C. State, 86-59 overall) Stadium: Carter-Finley, 57,583 (Grass) Wins: Murray St., Gardner Webb, Pittsburgh, Duke, Maryland, Clemson, North Carolina Losses: South Carolina, at Wake Forest, at Boston College, at Florida St., at Virginia Tech Record: 7-5 (4-4 ACC) Bowl Projection: Emerald (ACC #7) Schedule Overview: The Wolfpack gets through their entire nonconference schedule before starting ACC play, so they should be ready to go by then if they can stay healthy. I don’t think they get over being dominated last year by South Carolina in time for the Sept. 3 opener, but they should win the next three against two patsies and Pittsburgh. After that, their home schedule appears easier on paper than their road schedule. Clemson and North Carolina present challenges in Carter-Finley. Unfortunately, I don’t see my Tar Heels getting over the O’Brien curse yet. Let’s be honest though, State fans would rather go 2-10 with a win over Carolina than be nationally relevant with a L against the Heels. (Note: These previews are supposed to be written from a fan’s perspective. I call ‘em like I see ‘em) On the road, wins at Wake and BC are entirely possible. Honestly, there is an outside chance that State is 7-0 going into a Halloween showdown in Tallahassee. With a win there, they would be well on the road to Tampa Bay. Outlook: It all comes down to avoiding the injury bug for the Pack, in my opinion. They are

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already without star LB Nate Irving for at least half the season (here’s hoping for a speedy recovery, Nate). If Russell Wilson goes down, I don’t know if I would be confident that Mike Glennon is quite the savior that he has been proclaimed. That being said, Brandon Barnes, T.J. Graham, and George Bryan make up possibly the best group of underclassmen skill players (with Wilson) in the ACC. When you add RB’s Jamelle Eugene and Toney Baker and WR Owen Spencer, the Wolfpack has plenty of offensive firepower to put up serious points this season. On defense, the loss of Irving hurts. Fortunately, DE Willie Young passed up the opportunity to be possibly a first round pick in April’s NFL draft to come back to N.C. State. The return of Alan-Michael Cash should help shore up the interios. Second-year players Dwayne Maddox and Terrell Manning were highly touted coming out of high school, and are expected to contribute this year. The defensive backfield has to cope with the loss of projected starting CB Dominique Ellis, but DeAndre Morgan and a slew of younger guys should fill the void. Senior safety Clem Johnson will anchor the backfield on a defense that needs to improve for the Wolfpack to take a major step forward in 2009.

Heels ranked 20 in Coaches’ Poll, but… August 7, 2009 http://cfn.scout.com/2/834781.html Check out who they have ranked #9 in the nation. I’ll touch on this more in Wednesday’s preview, but North Carolina football may very well be BACK! “9. North Carolina 2008 Record: 8-5 2008 Final CFN Season Rank: 26 Of the five losses last year, there was a sloppy 41-10 blasting from NC State while the other four losses were by a grand total of nine points. Those four close defeats were all by three points or fewer, and now the team is far more mature and should be even better as long as a receiver can be found. Hakeem Nicks left early and Brandon Tate hurt his knee and is off to try to make it in the NFL, so Greg Little and Kenton Thornton have to try to get the passing game going. The great recruiting classes of the last few years should start paying off with better depth, while six starters return on offense and nine starters are back on defense including strongside star, Bruce Carter.” Granted, this loses a little bit of credibility considering that Kenton Thornton has moved on, but this is the type of pub that a team needs to gain national credibility. Hopefully the Heels can back it up on the field.

12 Teams in 12 Days: Wake Forest Preview August 8, 2009 Coach: Jim Grobe (9th year at Wake Forest, 87-77-1 overall) Stadium: BB&T Field, 31,500 (FieldTurf) Wins: Baylor, Stanford, Elon, N.C. State, Maryland, at Navy, at Duke Losses: at Boston College, at Clemson, Miami, at Georgia Tech, Florida St. Record: 7-5 (3-5 ACC) Bowl Projection: EagleBank Bowl (ACC #8)

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Schedule Overview: Their nonconference schedule is more difficult than it appears to the naked eye, as Baylor and Stanford are both up-and-coming teams in their respective BCS conferences. That being said, the Deacs should take care of both teams to start 2-0, with a given win against Elon sending them to 3-0. After that, the ACC looms, and I don’t think anyone is still taking a win vs. Wake Forest for granted. A win at Duke should be expected, and home wins against N.C. State and Maryland shouldn’t be impossible. They’re also on a 3-game winning streak against Florida State, who comes to Winston-Salem this year, and I can’t imagine Boston College being too tough this year. 9-3 is not out of the question for the Deacs. I don’t see it, however. Outlook: If there’s one thing I’ve learned recently, it’s to never count out the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. Personnel-wise, however, it’s hard to overlook what they lost on the defensive side of the ball. Gone are All-Americans Aaron Curry and Alphonso Smith, along with five more starters on D. They were 16th in the nation in total defense last year, and will have to rely on an experienced offense more than they were able to in 2008. The ‘O’ is promising. 3-year starter Riley Skinner returns, looking to get a second ACC title on his resume. 2007 ACC Rookie of the Year Josh Adams returns from an injury-riddled 2008 at running back, along with proven players Brandon Pendergrass and Kevin Harris (136 yards vs. Navy in their EagleBank bowl win). The offensive line returns 5 players with extensive starting experience. I look for the Deacs to score a lot more, and give up a lot more than a season ago. That is a recipe for minimal improvement. 7-5 is my call.

12 Teams in 12 Days: Duke Preview August 9, 2009 Coach: David Cutcliffe (2nd year at Duke, 48-37 overall) Stadium: Wallace Wade, 33,491 (Grass) Wins: Richmond, at Army, N.C. Central, Maryland Losses: at Kansas, Virginia Tech, at N.C. State, at Virginia, at North Carolina, Georgia Tech, at Miami, Wake Forest Record: 4-8 (1-7 ACC) Bowl Projection: None Schedule Overview: Duke has been a bottom-feeder in the ACC for well over a decade now, and while they’re improving, I don’t look for that to change this season. I do think that at least 1, maybe 2 teams who overlook the game will fall victim to the Blue Devils in ACC play. Maryland, who visits Durham this season, was my best guess for that. Also look for Virginia and Wake Forest to be on that short list. In the nonconference, wins against Richmond, Army, and N.C. Central should be all but givens. Unfortunately, it will require 7 wins for them to become bowl eligible, and that simply isn’t going to happen. Outlook: The Devils return a lot of talent at the skill positions on offense. Between QB Thaddeus Lewis, RB’s Jay Hollingsworth and Re’quan Boyette (who missed 2008 with an injury), and WR’s Johnny Williams and Donovan Varner, they should be able to put some points on the scoreboard. Their offensive line looks like a weakness again this year, as they graduated three 3-year starters. Defensively, they lose all-everything linebacker Michael Tauliili, who Coach David Cutcliffe

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said, “was better than having two players on the field.” They return NFL prospect DT Vince Oghobaase and tackling machine Vincent Rey at LB, so their defense will have senior leadership and a fair amount of talent, if nothing else. It’d be tough to pencil in the Blue Devils for more than 4 wins considering the personnel they lost, and the fact that they would have to prove it to everyone before they garner that type of respect. That being said, they will sneak up on at least 1, maybe 2 teams in conference play this year.

12 Teams in 12 Days: Georgia Tech Preview August 10, 2009 Coach: Paul Johnson (2nd year at Georgia Tech, 54-33 overall) Stadium: Bobby Dodd, 55,000 (Grass) Wins: Jacksonville St., Clemson, at Miami, at Mississippi St., Virginia Tech, at Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, at Duke, Georgia Losses: North Carolina, at Florida State, at Virginia Record: 9-3 (5-3 ACC) Bowl Projection: Gator (ACC #3) Schedule Overview: The Yellow Jackets have a tough schedule, featuring 3 SEC teams and crossdivision rivals Clemson, Florida State, and Wake Forest. They catch Miami early and in a tough part of their schedule, so I have that penciled as a W for the Jackets. I had a tough time picking them over Va. Tech, but I think the defense can win that one for them. North Carolina handled the Jackets pretty easily last season, so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt to do it again in Atlanta. Al Groh could probably hold on to his job for one more year with a big win, and I see the Jackets as a strong candidate to be that victim in Charlottesville. Anywhere from 7-5 to 11-1 seems perfectly plausible for this team. Outlook: Disputing theories abound about the Yellow Jackets’ chances for success this year. One theory is that the team will be better in their triple option offense after another year of experience. Another is that other teams will have them figured out, as LSU showed the world what a team with ample time to prepare for them can do in a 38-3 spanking. I think that there will be games where they look unstoppable, and other games where they can’t do much of anything. QB Josh Nesbitt has plenty of weapons at his disposal, including reigning ACC POY Jonathan Dwyer. Wing backs Roddy Jones, Embry Peeples, and Louisville transfer Anthony Allen will all get plenty of touches as well. WR Demaryius Thomas is a preseason All-ACC player as well. I look for the offense to be explosive and more efficient than last year, although wellprepared teams (see North Carolina and LSU last year) will be in good position. On D, they lose stud defensive linemen Michael Johnson, Vance Walker, and Darryl Richard. Fortunately, Derrick Morgan and his 7 sacks from 2008 return at DE. Their whole back seven returns intact as well. Look for junior S Morgan Burnett to have a huge season. I can’t really peg how I think the Yellow Jackets will do this season. They won’t sneak up on people like they did last year, but they should be so much more efficient on offense and still strong on D. 9-3 is a safe call, in my opinion.

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12 Teams in 12 Days: Miami Preview August 11, 2009 12 Teams in 12 Days: Miami Preview Coach: Randy Shannon (3rd year at Miami, 12-13 overall) Stadium: Landshark, 75,000 (Grass) Wins: Florida A&M, at Central Florida, at Wake Forest, Virginia, at North Carolina, Duke Losses: at Florida St., Georgia Tech, at Virginia Tech, Oklahoma, Clemson, at South Florida Record: 6-6 (4-4 ACC) Bowl Projection: Meineke Car Care (ACC #6) Schedule Overview: Miami has the toughest opening first month in the country. Florida State, Georgia Tech, and Virginia Tech may be the 3 toughest teams on their ACC slate. Then Oklahoma comes to Landshark Stadium the following week. If they can get through that stretch at 2-2 or better, they’ll probably become my favorite to win the conference. I was impressed at ACC Media Weekend by S Randy Phillips’ demeanor regarding the first four games, as he said, “we’re Miami, we will be ready no matter who’s across the ball from us.” After that start, the Canes have a chance to reel off five in a row against Florida A&M, UCF, Clemson, Wake Forest, and Virginia. Only UCF and Wake are road games for them on that stretch. I think they figure out North Carolina this year even though the Heels have won 2 straight against Miami and 3 of 5 since the Canes joined the conference. A road game against USF in Tampa is a very tough way to close the season, and I see them losing that game. Outlook: If you watched any Miami game last year (especially one with Andre Ware broadcasting), you heard ’swagger’ thrown around many times a game. Both Randy Phillips and Randy Shannon talked about how important it was for Miami to bring that swagger to the field this season. My fear for them is that, as this is still a young team, swagger can lead to a lack of discipline, which can lead to penalties, turnovers, and losses. Personnel-wise, Miami is close to being back. Great recruiting classes put together by Coach Shannon leave the Canes with as much talent as anyone in the ACC. Offensively, it starts with sophomore QB Jacory Harris, who was impressive in splitting snaps with Robert Marve, who has since left the school. He has a bevy of young WR’s to throw to, as an additional year of experience should lead to more consistency from sophomores LaRon Byrd, Aldarius Johnson, and Travis Benjamin, as well as junior Leonard Hankerson. They’ll miss TE Dedrick Epps this season, as he is expected to miss 2009 with an injury. Their line will benefit from experience, and RB’s Graig Cooper and Javarris James have proved to be capable rushers. On defense, it’s more speed, more swagger, and more youth. Young DT’s Allen Bailey and Marcus Forston may be the best interior tandem in the league this season. Marcus Robinson has monster potential at DE. Sophomore LB Sean Spence is the leader of the defense, and he can lay the wood even though he’s undersized at 205 lbs. Senior Colin McCarthy is a solid presence at the other OLB spot. Joining the aforementioned Phillips at safety are two young players I have huge expectations for, freshmen Ray Ray Armstrong and Vaughn Telemaque. Throw in CB Brandon Harris and there are as many as 8 guys with NFL potential on this defense. I just don’t think they mature quickly enough to be a huge threat this season.

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North Carolina Season Preview August 12, 2009 Coach: Butch Davis (3rd year at North Carolina, 63-33 overall) Stadium: Kenan, 60,000 (Grass) There have been root canals less painful than the past decade has been for Carolina football fans. In 1998, the Tar Heels finished 4th in the country with an 11-1 record and a 42-3 spanking of Virginia Tech in the Gator Bowl. After freshly promoted DC Carl Torbush led the Heels to the Gator Bowl win (Mack Brown left for Texas after the 1998 regular season), fans, players, and administration thought this level of success attained under Brown could continue. It wasn’t that easy. Since Brown’s departure, the Heels have appeared in four bowl games, with the high point a 16-10 win over Auburn in the 2001 Peach Bowl. Five years of bad football later, John Bunting was fired and Butch Davis took over. A good Carolina fan can tell you where he was and what he was doing the moment Butch Davis was hired. I, for one, was in a hotel room in Chicago on a Friday night, making a pilgrimage to South Bend to see the hapless 2006 Tar Heels play at Notre Dame. As Bunting was already the lame duck coach, the buzz in the visitor’s section the following freezing November afternoon was one of pure, unadulterated joy for those who had made the trip to cheer on our 1-7 team. Over a thousand days after that fateful Chicago night, here we are. Davis has the Heels on the cusp of returning to national prominence. Coming off an 8-5 season in which 4 losses were by a combined nine points, the Tar Heels are ready to take the next step towards becoming a national power. Led by a fast defense that returns 9 starters and a healthy QB in T.J. Yates, Carolina should be ready to deliver an ACC Title by 2010, if not this year. Offense Quarterbacks: It all starts with Yates, who was sidelined for over 5 games with a broken ankle last year. The Heels were leading Virginia Tech 17-3 when he went down, and a healthy Yates probably manages that game well enough to hold on to the lead and (as it would turn out) send them to the ACC Title Game. Gone is backup Cam Sexton, who pefrormed exceptionally in Yates’ absence in the middle of the season. RS Sophomore Mike Paulus struggled last year (3-8, 2 picks in blowing the VT lead), but he has a cannon for an arm. Experience should prove valuable for him. Lefty Braden Hansen enters camp as the 3rd guy, and freshman A.J. Blue could see some snaps as a Wildcat QB with the ability to throw. Overall, I look at quarterback as a strength for this team, as Yates can provide leadership and the rest of the guys are immensely talented. Running backs: Little known fact: UNC has had more 1000-yard rushers (24) than any team in NCAA history. The last was Jonathan Linton way back in 1998. Look for that to change this season, as Shaun Draughn rushed for 866 yards in a little over half a season in 2008. If he can hold on to the ball more effectively than he did towards the end of last season, look for him to sneak into the Jonathan Dwyer/C.J. Spiller/Da’Rel Scott caliber of ACC backs. 245 lb. Ryan Houston is the perfect thunder to Draughn’s lightning, and is an unstoppable force at the goal line. Redshirt freshman Jamal Womble may be the best player at the position for the Tar Heels, as Coach Davis compared him favorably with 49ers star Frank Gore. Fullbacks Anthony Elzy and Bobby Rome are both solid options to make plays in the flats, and I expect to see a lot of that this year with the departure of so many wideouts. Wide Receivers/Tight Ends/H-Backs: Brandon Tate was having the type of season that Heisman

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voters like to see before going down against Notre Dame. Hakeem Nicks is hands down the best WR ever to play at UNC, as he pulled down 68 passes for a school-record 1222 yards and 12 touchdowns a year ago (217, 3 TD’s in the Meineke Car Care Bowl loss to West Virginia). TE Robert Quinn and 3rd WR Brooks Foster were NFL draft picks, and slot WR Cooter Arnold made some huge plays down the stretch. All of those players are gone from 2009’s team, making the passing game the primary concern of the media. While they may not have much experience, the young receiving corps has tons of talent. Junior Greg Little has the most playing time under his belt, and he should start at the X position in Carolina’s offense. If he can take care of his drop problems, he will be a matchup nightmare for smaller DB’s, as his strength after the catch is phenomenal. Z receiver (Nicks’ old position) will likely be manned by sophomore Dwight Jones, who was highly touted coming out of high school. Freshmen Josh Adams, Jheranie Boyd, and Todd Harrelson will also contribute. At TE, Zack Pianalto returns after missing the second half of the season to injury. I think he’s going to take a big step forward this year. H-Back is a hybrid TE/ fullback position that OC John Shoop’s pro-style offense employs. Sophomore Christian Wilson needs to improve his blocking, and will be a huge weapon there if he can do that. Otherwise, Ryan Taylor will be used there as a blocker and vocal leader. Offensive Line: This is my biggest question mark for the Tar Heels going into the 2009 season. Garrett Reynolds and Calvin Darity made a solid right side of the offensive line, and Aaron Stahl’s surprise decision to graduate left the interior lacking depth. From left to right, the starters should be Kyle Jolly (the anchor of the line), Jonathan Cooper (redshirt freshman that the coaches and players have raved about), Lowell Dyer, Alan Pelc, and Mike Ingersoll. The 5 have 52 starts between them. As I said, depth is a concern. Cam Holland, Kevin Bryant, and Carl Gaskins are all versatile, but have 13 career appearances combined. Talented true freshmen Travis Bond and Brennan Williams (an Army All-American) may be forced into spot duty. Defense Defensive Line: Carolina has produced tons of NFL-caliber talent over the years on the defensive line, and this group of players certainly has a few players who will play on Sundays. On the inside, Marvin Austin’s production went down last season, but his presence caused double teams and freed up other players to make plays. Look for a breakout season from him. Massive Cam Thomas could be a 3-4 nose tackle on the next level, and will start alongside Austin. Backing them up are pass-rushing specialists Aleric Mullins and Tydreke Powell, both of whom also have NFL potential. Besides E.J. Wilson, all of the ends that contributed last year were true freshmen. Robert Quinn (who started 11 games) and backups Michael McAdoo and Quinton Coples will benefit from a year of strength and conditioning. Both McAdoo and Coples reported to camp 20 pounds heavier. True freshman Donte Paige-Moss, Scout.com’s #1 DE in the 2009 class, will probably see a lot of action in passing situations. The development of this group and its ability to produce pressure will be the key to the success of UNC’s D. Linebacker: As of right now, this is the strength of the football team. Quan Sturdivant will slide over to the middle after leading the nation in solo tackles last season. Next to #52 is strongside LB and fellow junior Bruce Carter, who blocked an NCAA-record 4 consecutive punts over two games last year. Stepping in on the weakside is sophomore Zach Brown, who both E.J. Wilson and Butch Davis confirmed ran a 4.27 40-yard dash in the spring. The trio makes up possibly the fastest group of linebackers in the country. Playing zone is made easier when you have that kind of speed, and I expect a lot of big plays to be made by this group. While I expect big things in 2009, I’m nervous that this group may not remain intact for 2010. Sturdivant and Carter are definite NFL prospects. Backing them up is a slew of underclassmen. Herman Davidson, Dion Guy, Hawatha Bell, and

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Linwan Euwell continue the speed theme on the outside, while freshman Kevin Reddick was on track to start in the middle last season before being ruled academically ineligible. Defensive backs: Another position group, more juniors roaming the field for the Carolina D. The self-proclaimed “Rude Boyz” return 3 starters, losing SS Trimaine Goddard, who was a secondteam All-America with 7 interceptions a year ago. While the numbers were gaudy, many would say his replacement, Da’Norris Searcy, is an upgrade. He is stronger and faster than Goddard, and recorded 10 tackles in the bowl loss to West Virginia. FS Deunta Williams is a hard hitter and is among the best 3 safeties in the ACC along with Morgan Burnett and Kam Chancellor. Boundary corner Kendric Burney is the prototypical shutdown CB, and is a preseason All-ACC pick. The biggest question is whether holdover Jordan Hemby or Charles Brown, who struggled with injuries last year, will play the cover corner. In passing situations, Brown will almost certainly move to the nickelback slot, as he is more physical than Hemby. LeCount Fantroy and a bevy of freshmen will back up this group. At safety, Deunta Williams calls his backup, senior Melvin Williams, the hardest hitter on the team. Backup SS Matt Merletti is a special teams whiz, and apparently benched 225 pounds 25 times in summer workouts. The success of this unit will correlate directly with the line’s ability to get pressure. They gave up pretty big numbers last year due to playing a loose zone and only 5 sacks from the starting DL. I look for that to be the most profound improvement on this team in 2009. Special Teams: Sophomore K Casey Barth should handle the kicking duties, as this is the sixth year a Barth has held placekicking duties for Carolina. 6′7 Grant Shallock seems to be the heir apparent at punter, where Terrence Brown leaves after a successful two-year career. Also in the mix is freshman P C.J. Feagles, the son of longtime NFL punter Jeff Feagles. The return game is still a bit in flux after the loss of Brandon Tate, but Johnny White and Greg Little did a respectable job filling in for him on kicks. No telling who will return punts. Kendric Burney is a possibility if the coaches trust him not to get hurt pulling double duty. Schedule Overview: Wins: The Citadel, at Connecticut, East Carolina, at Georgia Tech, Virginia, Georgia Southern, Florida St., Duke, at Boston College Losses: at Virginia Tech, Miami, at N.C. State Record: 9-3 (5-3 ACC) Bowl Projection: Music City (ACC #5) The Heels have only two games that are certain wins, and they should have a pretty good shot in every game. I’m taking the optimistic route and taking them to go 3-0 heading into Georgia Tech. With the speed and discipline at linebacker the Heels have, I think they make it two straight against the Jackets. Virginia and Georgia Southern at home would put the Heels 6-0 heading into the first Thursday night game ever in Chapel Hill. A win there and the showdown the next Thursday in Blacksburg becomes one of the biggest games in the program’s history. They slipped up at the end of last season, and I’m afraid the lack of experienced depth could prove harmful late in the season again. Late losses to Virginia Tech, Miami, and N.C. State (wow it pains me to say that) would keep the team out of the Championship Game and probably push them to a lower tier bowl. Overview: In year one of the Davis regime, the Heels went 4-8 but were competitive in all but two of the games. In 2008 they doubled the win total to 8, and only failed to show up for one game. To maintain the program’s positive momentum, I think 8 or 9 wins, minimum, are needed.

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Without the injury bug that bit the team in the second half of last season, 10 or 11 is a distinct possibility. The prevailing hope among realistic Tar Heel fans is that the Heels can take another step forward, as 2010 is the year where expectations should be at the national power level. All I can say is I hope we can be this year’s 2008 Alabama and mature a year early. Carolina fans have been waiting for too long.

12 Teams in 12 Days: Virginia Preview August 13, 2009 Coach: Al Groh (9th year at Virginia, 82-84 overall) Stadium: Scott, 61,500 (Grass) Wins: William & Mary, Indiana, Georgia Tech, Duke Losses: TCU, at Southern Miss, at North Carolina, at Maryland, at Miami, Boston College, at Clemson, Virginia Tech Record: 4-8 (2-6) Bowl Projection: None Schedule Overview: I don’t have much faith in this year’s Virginia team. I feel like they do just enough each year to keep Al Groh employed, but this is the year where that ends. A relatively tough nonconference schedule brings TCU into Charlottesville and sends the Wahoos to Southern Miss, and I don’t see them winning either of those games. I do think they can spring an upset against Georgia Tech, as that is how the ACC rollercoaster goes these days. Every game is winnable, unfortunately, I don’t see the Cavs pulling too many of them out. Outlook: I’ve been pretty optimistic about the other 10 teams I’ve previewed so far, because I truly feel that all of them are going in the right direction. I can’t say the same about the Cavaliers. They do have two experienced quarterbacks in Jameel Sewell and Marc Verica, and Vic Hall will see some snaps in their new spread offense. They also return four starting offensive linemen, but that experience may be moot due to their transition to the spread. Senior Mikell Simpson is a stabilizing force at running back, as he is solid but rarely jumps out at the viewer. Defensively, the Cavs are the last remaining 3-4 team in the ACC. Sophomore DE Matt Conrath has All-ACC potential, as he started all 12 games as a freshman and made 7 tackles for loss. The secondary is the strength of this team, as Vic Hall and Ras-I Dowling are both players with NFL potential. I especially like Dowling’s game, the physical corner is as good as they come in the ACC. I just don’t like the direction of this football team. When you recruit players to run a pro-style offense, you can’t just expect a transition to the spread to cure the team’s ills. Experience at QB and in the secondary will keep the team competitive, but ultimately I don’t see them being a contender.

12 Teams in 12 Days: Virginia Tech Preview August 15, 2009 Coach: Frank Beamer (23rd year at Virginia Tech, 177-89-2 overall) Stadium: Lane, 66,233 (Grass) Wins: Marshall, Nebraska, Miami, at Duke, North Carolina, at East Carolina, at Maryland, N.C. State, at Virginia

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Losses: Alabama (in Atlanta), at Georgia Tech Record: 10-2 (7-1 ACC; Coastal Division Champions) Bowl Projection: FedEx Orange (ACC Champion) Schedule Overview: The Hokies have easily the toughest non-conference slate in the ACC. The season opener against Alabama is huge for the conference’s image as well as the Hokies’ status as national title contenders this year. Nebraska is another big-name program, and a Thursday night game in Greenville against East Carolina is a revenge game. Their ACC slate is considerably lighter. While they play tough Coastal Division rivals North Carolina, Miami, and Georgia Tech, they avoid Florida State, Clemson, and Wake Forest from the Atlantic. I don’t think Virginia Tech is the mortal lock to win the ACC that everyone else does, as I see 4, maybe 5 potential losses on their schedule. However, three league titles in five years generates a lot of respect if nothing else, and I want to see them knocked off their perch before I can pick against them. Outlook: Their offense took a major blow when star RB Darren Evans tore his ACL recently. Freshmen Ryan Williams and David Wilson are both immensely talented, and I don’t expect to see much of a dropoff in production. We all know Tyrod Taylor can run as well as any quarterback in America, but for VT to live up to lofty expectations, he’s going to have to learn to pass the ball. WR’s Danny Coale, Jarret Boykin, and Dyrell Roberts and TE Greg Boone are all capable playmakers if they get the ball. The offensive line is talented and experienced, and may be a strength as the team adjusts to the loss of Evans. The defense and special teams, as always, will be exceptional for the Hokies. DE Jason Worilds, LB Cam Martin, and DB’s Stephan Virgil and Kam Chancellor all have All-ACC talent. Defense has been the name of the game since the Michael Vick era. They’ll keep the offense in it and score more points than the offense in some games. The Hokies will not be dominant by any means, but there is nobody who has proven capable of knocking them off their perch in the ACC. I think experience, coaching, and intangibles make them the favorite to win their 4th championship in 6th years.

Monday Morning Practice August 17, 2009 Thought I’d throw out a couple of quick observations from this morning’s practice. It was the only one I’ll have a chance to make it to until at least Thursday, and if y’all are anything like me, these next 19 days are insufferable without a little bit of information to keep you going. First thing I noticed was that Da’Norris Searcy seems to be the leader for the punt returner role. Remember in my UNC preview, I said this position was wide open. This is an interesting choice in my opinion, as the junior safety is also going to be a first-time starter alongside Deunta Williams. The lack of proven depth in the defensive backfield is a concern for me, but I put my trust in the coaching staff. Searcy’s speed and physical playing style may prove to be an asset back there. Shaun Draughn looks incredibly comfortable with the ball. Last year was his first year at running back, and he was learning on the job. He seems to have bulked up a little bit without losing any speed, and I look for him to easily eclipse the 1,000-yard mark. Carolina, who leads the nation with twenty-four 1,000 yard rushers all-time, hasn’t had one since Jonathan Linton did it in 1997. I’ll say that changes this year.

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Today is the deadline for MLB draftees to sign. Not that that would be a concern in most instances, but it is different in Chapel Hill. Star athlete Donovan Tate, the #3 overall pick by the San Diego Padres, has until midnight to sign. While it’s likely that he signs up and plays baseball, I can’t say that I’m not getting a little bit excited about the fact that he has yet to do so. If the impossible happens, Tate will get looks at QB and safety. Freshman WR Josh Adams appeared to have bruised his knee, which is a concern as he has already torn his meniscus this summer. Hopefully this isn’t a recurring problem.

Awesome article on Miami walk-on August 18, 2009 I was just skimming the internet and my Google alerts when I came across this. It is the story of Miami walk-on WR Chris Hayes and his Rudy-like moment in what would be any son’s darkest hour. Randy Shannon’s actions remind us of the nature of sport in this article. A must read. http://www.sun-sentinel.com/sports/columnists/sfl-hyde-um-chris-hayes-s081609sbaug16,0,6580155.column

To Improve Record, D Must Be More Aggressive August 19, 2009 Prognosticators and preseason magazines everywhere are proclaiming the 2009 North Carolina defense as one of the best in the country. Certainly, the talent is there as they return 9 starters, 3 of whom were voted preseason All-ACC. 7 of them even have multiple seasons of starting experience. While the talent is there, I fear the scheme may be a bit behind. Defensive Coordinator Everett Withers’ ‘Tampa 2′ defense calls for the defensive line to generate most of the pressure on the quarterback, while the back seven defends in a zone. My argument is that it may not be the best fit for this Carolina D, one predicated on speed at all positions. The lack of much attacking is really most evident against quality quarterbacks and in prevent situations. First, I present three examples of quarterbacks who were good enough to exploit this scheme last year: Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen, N.C. State’s Russell Wilson, and West Virginia’s Patrick White. Game-by-Game Examples “Jimmy Clausen seems to be getting pretty much whatever he wants thus far,” Woody Durham said as Notre Dame drove the field for the second time early in last October’s meeting between the Tar Heels and the Fighting Irish. And he was right. The Irish were going 5-wide, but UNC seemed content to let Clausen pick their 3-man rush apart. On one play on the first drive, Carolina finally brought a couple of linebackers on the blitz. A blinded Clausen threw into double coverage and was blessed to not have Trimaine Goddard take it back for a touchdown. Even in a four-man front, the Heels would drop DT Marvin Austin into coverage. Second possession of the day: after another Irish 1st down, Carolina sends its second blitz. Lo and behold, Bruce Carter sacks Clausen for a 15-yard loss. This cat-and-mouse philosophy drove Tar Heels fans crazy on this day, as pressure led to Clausen fumbles and interceptions as the game wore on. Why not do more of it? Who knows. Fast forward to the game’s final possession. After being incredibly effective in the second half, the Tar Heels went back to bringing 3 on the blitz, and the results were nearly disasterous. Clausen

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picked apart the Carolina D for the last 1:47, culminating in a pass over the middle and an illfated attempt by Michael Floyd to lateral inside the Carolina 10. The lack of pressure was also a factor in the only game where UNC failed to be competitive, a 41-10 loss against N.C. State. With the time he was given to throw (and the ability to make plays outside the pocket), Russell Wilson turned in a flawless performance while Carolina laid an egg. His poise, mobility and accuracy spelled ‘K-R-Y-P-T-O-N-I-T-E’ for a young defense playing in a zone that loosened as the year progressed. In the bowl game against West Virginia, Pat White had the game of his life. Time and time again, he found holes in the zone and converted 12 of 19 third downs. You’re not going to win many games when allowing even a ’scrambling’ QB such as White the time to complete 26 of 32 passes! Da’Norris Searcy brought some heat from the hybrid safety/LB position and got two sacks, but this pressure simply wasn’t enough to throw White out of his rhythm. Clausen: 31-48 (65%), 383 yds, 2 TD 2 Int, 10-16 3rd down Wilson: 17-28 (61%), 279 yds, 2 TD 0 Int, 8-17 3rd down White: 26-32 (81%!!!), career-high 332 yards, 3 TD 1 Int, 12-19 3rd down Analysis, what must change Looking back at the big picture, the ‘bend-but-don’t-break’ philosophy tended to break more often in the latter parts of the season. Whether this is quality QB’s or coaches adjusting to the system, I don’t know, but I do know that early games against Rutgers (0-9 on 3rd downs) and Connecticut showed the value of getting a QB out his rhythm. In those games, Carolina rattled mediocre QB’s into a combined 7 interceptions (and averaged a 29 point margin of victory). For the season, however, the numbers seem a bit bleaker. The D ranked 11th in the ACC in total defense (hardly a glowing endorsement for a breakout season) and the starting defensive linemen combined for 5, yes, 5 sacks on the season. There is a lot of work to be done based on last season’s results. There is reason to be hopeful for this system. The Heels forced 20 interceptions last year, good for a top 10 ranking nationally. DE’s Robert Quinn, Quinton Coples, and Michael McAdoo, while immensely talented, were all true freshmen last year. They’ll be the key to this year’s pass rush. Maybe, with another year under the belts of most of the returning players, the back 7 will be able to play a tighter zone that forces more incompletions and interceptions. My best guess is that we had a young and vulnerable defensive backfield last year, and we’ll open the playbook a little bit this season. With such great speed in the linebacking corps, I can’t imagine that the coaches wouldn’t be inclined to force a little bit more chaos this season.

5 Breakout Players in 2009 August 30, 2009 In the 2 and a half years that Butch Davis has been at the helm at UNC, there have been many changes to the football program. The team we have now is better coached and there is an excitement surrounding the program not seen here since the late 1990’s. Not that I’m going out on a limb by proclaiming this or anything, but talent is the single most important aspect to any college football team’s chances to win. It was once said “It’s not the X’s and the O’s, but the Jimmy’s and the Joe’s,” and the talent upgrades Coach Davis and his staff have brought in have raised performance and expectations for the Tar Heels.

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While I trust that anyone on the roster could emerge and have a huge season, I have narrowed it down to 5 players that you may not have heard of before that I expect to emerge and be mentioned in the same breath as the Marvin Austins, Kendric Burneys, and Quan Sturdivants. 5. A. J. Blue, #15, freshman RB/WR/QB Most of the drama surrounding Blue used to be whether or not he would ever play for the Tar Heels, as academics were an issue for him coming out of high school. After a year improving his grades and honing his gridiron talent, look for him to be a major weapon on offense this fall. He is listed as a running back, but is truly the definition of an ‘athlete’. He could probably compete for significant playing time on offense, defense, and special teams. His greatest contribution could be his ability to throw the ball from Offensive Coordinator John Shoop’s ‘Diesel’ (just another name for the Wildcat) package. While nobody outside the players and staff know where Blue will contribute, he’s simply too talented to keep off the field. 4. Kevin Reddick, #48, freshman LB Like Blue, Reddick spent some time at Hargrave Military Academy. Reddick was competing for the starting middle linebacker spot last year before learning he hadn’t qualified, so it’s no surprise to see him getting a lot of first-team reps this year. Everyone has heard about Zach Brown’s jaw-dropping 4.27 second 40-yard dash, but don’t be surprised if Reddick takes his spot at the weakside linebacker spot. 3. Jonathan Cooper, #64, RS freshman OG Due to injuries and attrition, the offensive line is going to have to rely on a lot of younger players this year. Cooper has been drawing rave reviews from coaches and players since his arrival on campus last year, and he is currently entrenched in the starting LG spot. His athleticism will allow the coaches to be creative on outside runs, which generally call for a guard to pull and act as a lead blocker for the runner. 2. Dwight Jones, #83, sophomore WR Most of the hullabaloo surrounding Jones came during the end of his recruitment, when the 5-star Burlington, N.C. native was wavering on his commitment to UNC and giving both Clemson and Tennessee a hard look. When signing day came around, Jones stayed with the good guys and last year learned the nuances of the college game behind NFL receivers Hakeem Nicks, Brandon Tate, and Brooks Foster. This year, Jones is listed as the starter opposite Greg Little, and based on talent alone should be able to put up impressive numbers. With an impressive group of freshmen pushing him, you can bet that his extra year establishing rapport with quarterback T.J. Yates will benefit him in establishing himself early in the season. 1. Da’Norris Searcy, #21, junior SS Searcy is the elder statesman on this list, and possibly the most well-known after his 10 tackle, 2 sack performance against West Virginia in the Meineke Car Care Bowl. However, he started that game as a hybrid LB/S combo to match up against WVU’s spread, and is now taking over for the departed 2nd team All-America Trimaine Goddard at strong safety. It is hard to justify this statement, but I think Searcy represents an upgrade over Goddard due to his physicality and nose for the ball. This year’s defensive backfield is going to be a physical, tenacious bunch. Searcy is also in a battle to take over as punt returner, so the coaching staff must like the former high school running back’s ability to make big plays, too. Honorable mentions: It’s tough to come up with just 5 players to count on to emerge, so I’ll give

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you a few more names: TE/HB Christian Wilson (really wanted to get him somewhere on the list), DE Quinton Coples, and WRs Todd Harrelson and Josh Adams (keep an eye on Jheranie Boyd and Erik Highsmith as well).

Game Preview: #20 UNC (0-0) vs. The Citadel (0-0) September 2, 2009 September 5, 2009, 6:05 p.m. (all-time series: UNC is 3-0) Introduction Here we are, ladies and gentlemen. As it is 69 degrees in beautiful Chapel Hill right now, football season must be upon us. For the first time since the 1998 season, the Tar Heels boast a preseason Top 25 ranking as they check in at #20 on the USA Today Coaches’ poll. Expectations are high in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels boasted one of the largest turnarounds in the country last year, improving their record by 4 wins and losing 4 additional games by a combined nine points. Back is a total of 15 starters for the Tar Heels, including 9 from a defense that promises to take major steps forward in its second year under defensive coordinator Everett Withers. Withers’ first UNC defense finished tied for 8th in the nation with 20 interceptions. While that number may not improve from last season, the defense should be more aggressive and dominant for longer stretches this year. For those who are unfamiliar with The Citadel, it is a military school located in Charleston, SC that plays its football in the FCS Southern Conference. They will run a spread option offense similar to the one McNeese State had success with in last season’s opener, but don’t expect The Citadel to have the athletes or the success that the Cowboys had against UNC. Both of the players expected to contribute at running back for the Bulldogs are walk-ons, as injuries have derailed the team here in the preseason. QB Bart Blanchard is also struggling with an injury but is expected to play. Stats and Trends: Since this is the first game of the season, the only notable statistics to watch are those posted by players returning from 2008’s teams. A few to keep in mind: - LB Quan Sturdivant led the nation with 87 solo tackles last year. He has since moved to middle linebacker, but look for the junior to continue to make plays. - Although QB T.J. Yates missed 5 games due to injury last season, he is up to 6th on Carolina’s all-time passing yardage list with 3,823 yards. With a couple of productive (and injury-free) seasons, he could break Darian Durant’s all-time mark. - Carolina has struggled in recent years with FCS opponents going back to 2oo4. They trailed for significant portions of a 2004 49-38 win over William & Mary, a 2006 45-42 win against Furman, and last year’s 35-27 win vs. McNeese State. Hopefully, this year’s first FCS game (the Heels face Georgia Southern October 10) will be more like the 37-14 win against James Madison in 2007, not any of the others mentioned. Players to watch: My hope is that we don’t have to watch the starters for much longer than a half, and we get a chance to see a lot of the second and third teamers get a taste of game action. I would love to see backup QB’s Mike Paulus and Braden Hansen both get a significant amount of snaps

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because you just never know with T.J. Yates’ health. RT Mike Ingersoll is one of the keys to the season, in my opinion. How adequately he replaces Atlanta Falcon Garrett Reynolds will go a long way to the stability of the offensive line, which also lacks depth. Expect to see at least two of Travis Bond, Brennan Williams, and David Collins, all of whom are true freshmen, getting some game experience. Also, keep your eye on Charles Brown at cornerback. He wrestled the starting job away from Jordan Hemby, and his ability to shut down receivers opposite Kendric Burney will be key this season. For North Carolina to win: Remember Appalachian State/Michigan 2007. No team is invincible, and the Bulldogs aren’t likely to roll over and die. For The Citadel to win: A rousing pregame speech by Citadel alum and famous author Pat Conroy, 9 T.J. Yates interceptions, a sit-in on the 50-yard line by UNC employees forced to leave work two hours early to accommodate Florida State traffic (most likely scenario), and Ron Cherry calling the game. And that still may not be enough. Fearless Prediction: The Heels’ highly publicized ‘problems’ at wide receiver are solved, we roll up about 500 yards of offense, and the starters get to the showers early. Carolina 48, The Citadel 13. Around the ACC: I wasn’t satisfied with just calling Carolina’s game. Therefore, I’m going to give you my call on the rest of the games on the ACC calendar this weekend. South Carolina 19, N.C. State 13: The Gamecocks threw 4 picks last year and still won 34-0. I think the Ole Ball Coach has enough tricks up his sleeve to beat the banged-up Wolfpack. #15 Georgia Tech 38, Jacksonville State 7: JSU QB Ryan Perrilloux isn’t even playing, so this game lacks intrigue. Jackets roll. Boston College 45, Northeastern 0: Coach Frank Spaziani gets his first regular season win as a head coach. Wake Forest 34, Baylor 31: Remember the name Robert Griffin. He’s Baylor’s QB and one of the most exciting players in the nation. I don’t think he has quite enough to spring the upset, but I would not be shocked if the Bears took one in Winston-Salem. Virginia 41, William and Mary 16: Charlottesville praises Al Groh and the new spread offense, fans get way too optimistic about their chances this season after beating their in-state rival, hilarity ensues. Clemson 52, Middle Tennessee St. 17: I think the C.J. Spiller for Heisman talk is a bit presumptuous, but I’d say MTSU provides him a chance to have a big game. Duke 29, Richmond 10: See Virginia comment, insert “Durham” and “David Cutcliffe” for “Charlottesville” and “Al Groh”, and disregard the fact that Richmond is not an in-state rival. #5 Alabama 26, #7 Virginia Tech 6: I hate to say it, but ESPN will bash the ACC mercilessly for yet another September. This is eerily reminiscent of last year’s Alabama/Clemson game and 2007’s VT/LSU game, which ended in a 48-7 VT loss. #12 Cal 42, Maryland 20: Jahvid Best, whose Heisman campaign is much less far-fetched than

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Spiller’s, runs wild. Upset Alert: Miami 31, #18 Florida State 26. Just a gut feeling. I think Miami knows it’s painted into a corner with its murderer’s row September, and will play their hearts out to get at least one win out of the way.

Recap: UNC 40, The Citadel 6 September 6, 2009 That grumble you heard? That’s the North Carolina football program, long referred to as a sleeping giant in many circles, starting to wake up. The Tar Heels dominated The Citadel in every aspect of last night’s opening game, with only muffed punts and passes to worry about looking ahead. On what was hardly a banner week for the ACC, the Tar Heels took care of business. “This is the most fundamentally sound team I’ve ever seen,” said Bart Blanchard, The Citadel’s starting quarterback. Coach Kevin Higgins continued to heap the praise on the Heels, saying their front seven was the best in the country. All in all, it’s hard to complain about much from the game. Here are my thoughts: - The defense was a lot more aggressive than it was at any point last year. I saw more corner blitzes in the first half than I did in all of 2008. The added wrinkle kept The Citadel’s offense out of rhythm, as evidenced by their 155 yards of total offense and 3 yards per pass play. - The offense still has some work to do, but the running game was absolutely improved from last year. Shaun Draughn led the charge with 118 yards, Ryan Houston punched in two touchdowns, and Jamal Womble looked like a star in the making in limited carries. - The receivers dropped 5 T.J. Yates passes. Freshman Josh Adams had two of them, which is understandable for someone playing their first game under the bright lights. Greg Little dropped a potential first down that hit him right in the numbers early in the game, which is inexcusable. - Robert Quinn: stud. He won battle after battle on the edge, and pressured Blanchard all night. - It was interesting to see Braden Hansen getting the snaps as the 2nd team quarterback. While the staff didn’t ask him to do much, he looked a little nervous out there and finished 0-2 with an interception. This is a spot where the Heels need to find a guy, whether it’s Hansen or Mike Paulus. - A.J. Blue: Already among my favorite players. Again, the staff didn’t put him in a position to show too much, but he looked like an incredibly instinctive runner. He’ll be great as a dual threat when we open up the playbook to some more Wildcat plays. - Quan Sturdivant and Deunta Williams (ACC media, I told you he was a first-teamer) look like first-day picks in this year’s draft if they choose to come out. Sturdivant is a true sideline-tosideline linebacker, and Williams just makes plays. He had two interceptions and could have had four if things had gone right. - I can’t begin to stress how disappointed in the ACC I am. N.C. State’s loss was understandable, but ugly. I didn’t get a chance to see Maryland, but they must have been awful. Wake needs to beat mediocre teams like Baylor. Duke and Virginia are absolute jokes. Maybe Miami/FSU will be a barnburner and make all of us feel better about the league. All in all, I’m encouraged by what I saw in Kenan Stadium last night. The team played hard and they seemed to have a toughness that they didn’t seem to have last year.

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Alan Pelc named ACC OL of the week September 8, 2009 http://www.theacc.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/090809aac.html What a pleasant surprise. Pelc, one of two holdover starters from last year’s line, helped prove that the retooled unit was just as capable as last year’s (if not moreso). The Heels’ 261 rushing yards was the highest total in over 4 years, and Pelc recorded 7 knockdown blocks before sitting out the entire 4th quarter to allow the backups to develop. This is a great development in what was considered a questionable (at best) unit for the team coming into the season. I hope to see more of this in coming weeks.

ACC Power Rankings, week 1 September 8, 2009 Had to hold off until the Miami/FSU game to publish these, so expect them earlier in the week in the future… It was not a banner week for the Atlantic Coast Conference, as it did not sustain the momentum that it gained from having 10 bowl teams last year. The headliners were Virginia Tech’s loss to Alabama and N.C. State’s failure to show up against South Carolina. Infinitely more embarrassing, however, was the CAA’s 2-0 record against the ACC, as William and Mary and (defending FCS Champion) Richmond beat Virginia and Duke on the road. This week reminds me of last year’s opener, when ACC favorite Clemson was blown out by Alabama, N.C. State had the same result as this year, and ESPN trashed the league mercilessly throughout September. Unless your team is playing, I’d avoid that media outlet unless you want to hear about how worthless our league is at football. On to the rankings… 1) Miami (1-0, 1-0 ACC, defeated FSU 38-34): I was wondering what they would look like with a pair of new coordinators, and what I saw was exactly what I hoped I wouldn’t see: the ‘U’ is playing with a lot more discipline and poise. Jacory Harris showed incredible moxie throughout the game and showed his toughness when he took a hard hit that was intercepted for a Seminole touchdown, then led the team to victory. The jury is still out on their defense, but the team has playmakers and was the most impressive over the weekend. 2) North Carolina (1-0, 0-0 ACC, defeated The Citadel 40-6): The defensive performance was the best by a Tar Heel team since the turn of the century. The Citadel ran for 1.5 yards per carry, and had four possessions in which they were forced to punt after losing yardage. The running game looks much-improved, but the passing game needs work. I expect a more complete performance this week at Connecticut. 3) Florida State (0-1, 0-1 ACC, lost to Miami 38-34): I can’t penalize the Seminoles too harshly for losing a game against a team that seemed to be clicking on all cylinders. And all I can say about Greg Reid is WOW! That kid is a stud. 4) Virginia Tech (0-1, 0-0 ACC, lost to Alabama 34-24): 496 yards of total offense for Alabama? Color me not impressed and skeptical as to whether or not this team has improved any from last year. “But Chad, they won the ACC last year with this team.” I say no matter, the top teams in the ACC will prove to be much-improved this year.

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5) Georgia Tech (1-0, 0-0 ACC, defeated Jacksonville St. 37-17): I’m taking a hold on the Yellow Jackets for now, as I saw none of their game. By all indications, it was a sloppy win. 6) Clemson (1-0, o-0 ACC, defeated Middle Tenn. St. 37-14): I think the Tigers are destined to bury some of the demons left over from 2008. I have to keep them down here until we get a long-term prognosis on C.J. Spiller, and we see them play GT this weekend. 7) Wake Forest (0-1, 0-0 ACC, lost to Baylor 24-21): I told y’all Robert Griffen might be enough to lead Baylor to a win over the Deacons. A lot of their ills seem curable, and I see this team being no worse than bowl-eligible. 8) Boston College (1-0, 0-0 ACC, defeated Northeastern 54-0): Impressive first time out for head coach Frank Spaziani, QB Justin Tuggle, and a defense reeling from the loss of Mark Herzlich. It’s possible that we all slept on the Eagles due to their offseason turmoil. They definitely look better than teams 9-12. 9) N.C. State (0-1, 0-0 ACC, lost to South Carolina 7-3): Good news: South Carolina’s offense was so bad that they could only muster 7 points on 3 drives deep into N.C. State territory (and had a TD pass called back on a questionable offensive pass interference). Bad news: Their offensive line got manhandled. The thing with a Tom O’Brien team is that they’ll improve over the course of the season. 10) Maryland (0-1, 0-0 ACC, lost to Cal 52-13): Ouch. I don’t think anybody expected Maryland to win, but I also don’t think anyone expected them to get whipped like this. Not the way the ACC wanted to get to 0-4 vs. BCS opponents. 11) Duke (0-1, 0-0 ACC, lost to Richmond 24-16): Richmond is the FCS national champion, and they defeated Duke by less than William and Mary defeated Virginia, thus the higher ranking for Duke. 12) Virginia, 0-1, 0-0 ACC, lost to William and Mary 26-14): Al Groh’s seat has been moved to a crematory. Can’t see him lasting the season in Charlottesville after this embarrassment.

Game Preview: #19 UNC at Connecticut September 9, 2009 September 12, 2009, 12:00 p.m. (all-time series: UNC 2-0) Introduction Well, for the second week in a row the Tar Heels are playing a team with a dog for a mascot, this time the Connecticut Huskies. No disrespect to The Citadel, but that’s where the similarities end in my view. This is a fundamentally sound football team under 11th-year coach Randy Edsall, and the team’s calling card will again be a good running game and disciplined defense again this year. The Tar Heels won this matchup easily last year, dominating the Huskies 38-12 in Chapel Hill. Bruce Carter stole the show with three blocked points, all of which led to Carolina points. Shaun Draughn eclipsed 100 yards for the first time in his career. The Huskies outgained the Tar Heels, but this was due mostly to the short fields the Heels had to work with and now-departed Donald Brown’s 161 yards on the ground. The 2009 Connecticut team will rely on its ground game, even without Brown, and a defense that stays at home and rarely gives up the big play. At QB, they have Notre Dame transfer Zach Frazer. Frazer threw three interceptions in a win at Ohio last week, the same number he threw in the Carolina game last year (his first collegiate start). RB’s Jordan Todman and Andre Brown

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both eclipsed 100 yards rushing last week. Brown seems to be more between-the-tackles while Todman will be one of the faster players on the field. Look for Connecticut to run some nohuddle early to try and confuse the Tar Heels’ stout defense. The Huskies’ D returns 6 starters from 2008, including all of their LB’s (name to watch: Scott Lutrus, who had 107 tackles a year ago). Like I said, UConn won’t try anything too tricky on D. Combined with UNC’s questionable aerial attack, don’t look for many big plays on either side of the ball. Look for the Tar Heels to open up the playbook a bit more than they did against The Citadel, where they went 66%run/33%pass. I think you’ll see more variations on A.J. Blue’s ‘Diesel’ package. Hopefully the receivers can hold on to the ball, as 5 different wideouts dropped a pass last Saturday. I want to see TE’s Zach Pianalto and Christian Wilson get more touches, as they could provide nice safety valves for QB T.J. Yates. Stats and Trends: - Yates’ 114 passing yards vs. The Citadel was the lowest total he’s thrown for since going for 76 in a win against Duke in 2007. This could be due to the lite scheme the Heels ran on Saturday or dropped passes, but it needs to improve for a win this week. - On the plus side, the Heels’ 261 rushing yards were the most since a 2004 win against Duke. Shaun Draughn led the way with 118, but Ryan Houston (43) and Jamal Womble (42) averaged over 7 yards per carry. - Frazer threw three interceptions in last year’s game, and last week against Ohio. The UNC defense made three interceptions last week. I would love to see three more this week. - The Huskies demonstrate great discipline, given that they were only flagged for two penalties in last week’s game. Very impressive for any season opener. - Quan Sturdivant was up to his old tricks vs. The Citadel, totaling 7 tackles with 2.5 for loss. - DE’s Robert Quinn and Michael McAdoo showed that they may be Carolina’s most effective pass rushers so far this season. Both had a sack and two quarterback hurries in the opener, and McAdoo had an impressive 2.5 tackles for loss as a backup. Along with fellow sophomore Quinton Coples, senior E.J. Wilson, and freshman Donte Paige-Moss, look for pressure off the edge to be a recurring theme for the Heels this year. Players to Watch: - Connecticut QB Zach Frazer. I think the RB’s will put up decent numbers (think 150-160 yards between the two of them), but the key is Frazer being efficient and holding on to the football. The Huskies have a good chance if they can break even or win the turnover battle. - Carolina DT’s Marvin Austin and Cam Thomas. To stop the run, the big guys up front are going to have to swallow up a lot of blockers so the fastest LB unit in the nation can make plays. Look for UConn to double Austin at the point of attack. - Connecticut S Jerome Junior. The RS freshman was apparently beaten a couple of times against Ohio, and with Carolina playing Greg Little in the slot, this may be a matchup the Tar Heels can successfully exploit. For North Carolina to win: Hold on to the football, stop the run, and avoid the slow start. The Tar Heels muffed two punts, dropped five passes, and threw two inexcusable interceptions last week. Some of it may have been first-week jitters, but jitters turn in to habits if they aren’t corrected. Hopefully that gets

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fixed. Todman and Brown will probably put up their numbers like Donald Brown did last year, but the Heels need to let the D-line contain the Huskies’ O-line and let the LB’s make plays. Slow starts are my main concern for the Heels this week. They are notorious for getting out of the gates slow for these noon kickoffs, and cannot afford to do so against a team that won’t make many mistakes once they’re in the lead. For Connecticut to win: They can’t afford to have the special teams breakdown of a year ago. Also, Frazer will have to make plays through the air to keep the Tar Heels’ D off balance. It won’t take a spectacular performance for UConn to win, but they will have to play better than they did in Chapel Hill last October (and last week against Ohio) to stand a chance. Fearless Prediction: Carolina 27, UConn 13. Not to say that this won’t be a good game, I think it will. However, the Heels just have too much talent on defense to give up too many points on an offense that has not shown me it can move the ball through the air. I figure the Huskies won’t let Bruce Carter block any more punts, but I do expect a few turnovers by Frazer. Around the ACC: Last week: 8-3. I’m proud of my record. The ACC’s? Not so much. The league doesn’t really have many chances to save face on a national scale this week. Clemson/Ga. Tech is the headliner, and nonconference games vs. TCU, at Stanford, and at Connecticut are at least BCS-level games for the league. #15 Georgia Tech 31, Clemson 16: This game becomes a toss-up if Georgia Tech can’t cut down on the mistakes from last week. However, I think the Jackets come ready to play on the big Thursday nighter, and the Coastal goes to 2-0 vs. the Atlantic (which I do not like–PSA for Carolina fans: cheer for the Atlantic to help our push to Tampa Bay!) Duke 23, Army 17: Yes, I’m aware that Duke lost to FCS champion Richmond last week. Honestly, I’m not so sure Richmond wouldn’t beat Army too. Stanford 31, Wake Forest 30: I want to pick this game as a toss-up, but that would be a copout. Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh has the Cardinal turning it around, and this is the type of game that up-and-coming teams win over white dwarfs (what I’ll call Wake and their dwindling success). #14 Virginia Tech 41, Marshall 7: Ryan Williams runs wild. Tyrod Taylor runs (but doesn’t pass) wild. The special teams and/or defense score. VT looks like a different team than the one that gave up 496 yards to Alabama last week. Boston College 34, Kent State 17: The ‘Spaz’ regime goes to 2-0 with a road trip to Clemson looming. #16 TCU 44, Virginia 13: Al Groh deathwatch is already ticking. He may make it through a trip to Hattiesburg, MS next week, but no further. They have a bye week after that where they can focus on getting a new regime in place. N.C. State 38, Murray State 6: I have a strange feeling we see a lot of Mike Glennon this week, and he plays well enough to create a slight QB controversy. Maryland 24, James Madison 14: Color me nervous. The ACC could go to 0-3 vs. the mighty CAA. Maryland doesn’t really give me much confidence after last week, but I think they were paying attention to the results of the Duke and Virginia games.

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Florida State 52, Jacksonville State 7: After this week, Jacksonville St. will have played more ACC games than any other team so far this year. …Maybe they’re trying to replace Duke or Virginia?

Recap: UNC 12, Connecticut 10 September 13, 2009 A win is a win. As evidenced by Carolina’s drop from 19 to 24 in the latest AP poll, voters disagree, but an ugly game such as this will still show up in the win column. Here’s what I thought: - The effect of injuries to C Lowell Dyer and LG Jonathan Cooper and FB Bobby Rome’s H1N1 infection were evident throughout the game. All of Carolina’s rushing attempts were to the right, the pocket collapsed on T.J. Yates all game, and the Heels had no success on offense until they started rolling Yates out of the pocket. - I called for TE Zach Pianalto to get the ball more, and get the ball he did. 7 catches for 87 yards and a TD, although he dislocated his foot celebrating the touchdown. He emerged as our best receiving threat yesterday, and all Tar Heels fans need to hope for a speedy recovery. - Johnny White is a stud on special teams. As a gunner on punts and kickoffs, he was the first man on the ball every time. - Great adjustment by OC John Shoop to get Yates out of the pocket when he realized the line couldn’t hold up. After the Heels went down 10-0, they went to play action and roll outs, and they capitalized with two tough drives to tie the score. - Shout out to WR Erik Highsmith, whose 59 yards (including two KEY third down conversions) were a great surprise from an unexpected source. Look for him to get more and more of Josh Adams’ reps, as he has transitioned to the college game a bit quicker. - The defense was spectacular. I was VERY encouraged by the aggressiveness, especially on Connecticut’s last possession. After so many gut-wrenching moments when playing the prevent last year, I was shocked to see Everett Withers call for a blitz on 4th & 4. It worked, as Bruce Carter got the sack to end the game. - Speaking of Carter, UConn coach Randy Edsall must hate him. After blocking three punts in the 2008 game, Carter had two sacks yesterday, including the game ender. - Charles Brown is a great corner. He looked like an All-American yesterday. Sure tackling and a nose for the ball make it just as difficult to throw on him as it is to get anything against Kendric Burney. - Marvin Austin showed up in a big way yesterday. The big man had his motor running from the coin toss until the last minute, and was a disruptive force all game. He spent a lot of time in Connecticut’s backfield, taking the running game out of rhythm and getting pressure on the UConn QB’s. - Detractors will call the safety on a holding penalty a ‘fluke’ and a cheap way to win the game. Fact is, that rule has been in existence for a long time, and the Tar Heels were going to drive the short field and win it anyway. I don’t mean to oversell this victory, but I was impressed with what I saw in UConn’s team. They play incredibly sound defense, and can run the ball as well as anyone. That being said, last year’s Tar Heels do not win this game. The increased mental toughness and experience showed

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up again and again, and a more poised T.J. Yates bodes well for this team’s composure going forward. Next week is another tough game in ECU, but this game will prove to be a learning experience for a team that is still on the rise towards the nation’s elite. Game Ball: I thought this might be a fun feature to add to my recap posts. The first game ball of the season (last week’s would have gone to Deunta Williams, for the record) goes to TE Zach Pianalto. His ability to run after the catch energized the offense on their two scoring drives, and his touchdown catch was obviously key. When he comes back, look for him to be a major weapon (and to tone down his touchdown celebrations). You’ll be missed, big guy. Hurry back.

ACC Power Rankings, week 2 September 15, 2009 Better news for the ACC in this week’s slate of games. The conference went 2-0 vs. BCS opponents, and its only nonconference loss came against potential BCS buster and top-15 team TCU (and Virginia was playing them- no real expectations there). Bad news does exist, however. Florida State needed a 4th quarter rally to top Jacksonville St., and Maryland delivered the conference’s first win against the CAA by the skin of its teeth. The top of the league held serve, and for the first time since expansion, there is a noticeable gap between the really good, mediocre, and bad teams in the conference. 1) Miami (1-0, 1-0 ACC, bye): No reason to penalize them for not playing. Going back and rewatching part of their opener against Florida State makes me a little nervous, as their defense was shaky. The winner of their Thursday night tilt against Georgia Tech will probably take over #1 in these rankings next week. 2) Georgia Tech (2-0, 1-0 ACC, defeated Clemson 30-27): A few breaks gave them a big early lead, and then their offense stagnated as their defense gave up some big plays. What impressed me was the ability of the team to bounce back when they were backed into a corner, as all three phases stepped up for them. Josh Nesbitt HAS to be more accurate for Tech to be a legitimate title contender, however. (Side note: Derrick Morgan: PHENOM.) 3) Virginia Tech (1-1, 0-0 ACC, defeated Marshall 52-10): Ryan Williams and David Wilson each went over 150 yards, and these Hokies are following the usual blueprint of power running and a strong (we think) defense. They could inch back towards the top with an impressive showing against Nebraska this week. 4) North Carolina (2-0, 0-0 ACC, defeated Connecticut 12-10): I don’t think UNC is getting enough credit for this win, as Connecticut ranked 6th in the nation in total defense last year, was playing their home opener, and the Heels were playing without 4 offensive starters. To win on the road and drop 5 spots in the AP poll is laughable. I will concede that Ga. Tech and Va. Tech looked better than them this week, thus the drop. A win over ECU this week may push them back up. 5) Clemson (1-1, 0-1 ACC, lost to Ga. Tech 30-27): I thought they were dead in the water when they went down 21-0 in the first quarter at Bobby Dodd. To their credit, Kyle Parker got the ball to their playmakers and the defense stepped up the intensity to bring the Tigers back. I thought they were going to leave Atlanta with the win, but the team definitely showed promise. 6) Boston College (2-0, 0-0 ACC, defeated Kent State 34-7): Do I think they are the ACC’s sixthbest team? Absolutely not, but they have been among the most impressive teams (albeit against

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poor competition) to this point. I’ve got Clemson beating them badly this weekend. 7) Wake Forest (1-1, 0-0 ACC, defeated Stanford 24-17): Another week, another close game vs. a perennial bottom-feeder from a BCS conference. This week, the Deacs took care of business on the strength of 251 rushing yards against Stanford. Among the mediocre teams I mentioned in the opening paragraph, look for the Deacons to remain between 6 and 9 all year long. 8 ) Florida State (1-1, 0-1 ACC, defeated Jacksonville State 19-9): You can’t scrape by an FCS opponent and not suffer a significant drop in your power ranking because of it. This is an embarrassment to the league, as one of its power programs goes down to the wire against a no-name. They’ll need to tighten up on D and hold on to the football to climb out of the early season funk they seem to be in. The ACC needs a good performance from the Noles at BYU this week. 9) N.C. State (1-1, 0-0 ACC, defeated Murray State 65-7): Russell Wilson and the offense cured whatever was bugging them against South Carolina, and the Wolfpack should gain a lot of confidence from this performance and this Saturday’s game against Gardner-Webb. One still has to worry about which State team shows up against real competition. 10) Maryland (1-1, 0-0 ACC, defeated James Madison 38-35): Inexplicable that this game would even be close after the Terps saw what happened to Virginia and Duke in week 1. The fact that they won keeps them in the top 10, barely. 11) Duke (1-1, 0-0 ACC, defeated Army 35-19): Maybe Duke just goes undefeated in FBS play? I was impressed by backup QB Sean Renfree’s performance (7/8, 106 yards, 2 TD) and wonder if a quarterback controversy may not be underway in Durham. Coach Cutcliffe insists that this is not the case, but I’ll be watching for that as the Blue Devils travel to Kansas this weekend. 12) Virginia (0-2, 0-0 ACC, lost to TCU 30-14): Respectable score, still hasn’t proven to be a respectable team. I expect them to get smoked against Southern Miss this week. You may note that my top 4 and bottom 2 teams make up the Coastal Division, while the 6 in between make up the Atlantic. This tells me that there are really only two teams you can count out of the ACC race before conference play begins in earnest. Both divisions are WIDE OPEN, and the Coastal picture will begin to take shape in the next two weeks as we have 3 games (GT @ Miami this week, UNC @ GT and Miami @ VT the next) between some of the top teams. Things are about to get interesting in the ACC.

Injury Update, per UNC release September 16, 2009 http://tarheelblue.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/091609aab.html Sept. 16, 2009 University of North Carolina center Lowell Dyer strained a muscle in his right shoulder during practice last week and did not play in Saturday’s win at Connecticut. Dyer, a fifth-year senior from Durham, N.C., will be out 3-4 weeks while undergoing rehabilitation. His status will be updated after that time. Dyer came to Carolina as a walk-on and earned a scholarship prior to the start of the 2008 season. A 2009 candidate for the Rimington Award, which is given annually to the nation’s top center, Dyer has started 16 games in his career. Tight end Zack Pianalto dislocated the subtalar joint in his right foot during Saturday’s game at

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Connecticut. The dislocation was reduced on the field by team physician Dr. Jeffrey Spang. Pianalto will be out 3-4 weeks while undergoing rehabilitation. His status will be updated after that time. A junior from Springdale, Ark., Pianalto had career highs in receptions (7) and receiving yards (87) vs. the Huskies, and scored the game-tying touchdown with 2:36 remaining. I have made it perfectly clear in recent posts how important I think Pianalto is to the team’s success. The fact that he may only be out 3-4 weeks is huge, as we will be getting into the tough stretch of the schedule by then. Dyer’s injury is also disheartening, as the former walk-on has had a long road to his starting spot. The team is already paper-thin on the OL, and any more injuries could cripple the offense.

Finally Official: UNC vs. LSU for Chick-Fil-A Kickoff September 16, 2009 http://tarheelblue.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/091609aag.html Sept. 16, 2009 Chapel Hill, N.C. —– North Carolina will open its 2010 football season against LSU in the Chickfil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta. The game will be played Sept. 4, 2010 in the Georgia Dome and will be televised nationally by ESPN in prime time. “While our focus is on our 2009 season, being selected to participate in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game against LSU is a wonderful honor,” said North Carolina head coach Butch Davis. “This game is recognized throughout college football as the premier event of college football’s opening weekend and it offers an exciting opportunity for our team, staff, and fans. We are honored to represent the Atlantic Coast Conference in what will surely be an exciting atmosphere in the Georgia Dome.” “North Carolina is honored to represent the Atlantic Coast Conference in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game,” said Dick Baddour, UNC Director of Athletics. “This game is a tremendous opportunity to showcase our football program and compete against one of the top teams in the SEC. Atlanta has always been a great city for Carolina fans and the atmosphere will be electric in the Georgia Dome.” This will be the seventh meeting between LSU and North Carolina with the Tigers holding a 5-1 advantage. The two teams have not met since 1986. Carolina’s lone win in the series was a 34-7 decision in the first meeting in 1948. The Tigers and Tar Heels are currently ranked No. 9 and No. 19, respectively, in the USA Today Coaches Top 25 poll. To accommodate the 2010 LSU contest, next year’s game vs. William & Mary, which was originally scheduled for Sept. 4, has been moved to Oct. 30. In addition, North Carolina and South Carolina have mutually agreed to move next season’s game, which was originally scheduled for Sept. 18 in Columbia, to the opening Thursday night (Aug. 29) of the 2013 season. That game also will be televised by ESPN. I’ll be there in full force, who’s with me?

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Game Preview: ECU at #24 North Carolina September 17, 2009 September 19, 2009, 12:00 pm. UNC leads all-time series 8-2-1. Introduction One of the most underrated yet hateful rivalries in southern college football, North Carolina and East Carolina meet for the twelfth time on Saturday in Kenan Stadium. ECU will play the bitter underdog card, as seen by years of lobbying in the N.C. Senate to require the two teams to meet on the field and soundbites like the one provided by Skip Holtz this week: “Many of our players were told they weren’t good enough to play at North Carolina. This will be a game that they put a chip on their shoulders for.” Last time these two teams met, Butch Davis was coaching his second game at North Carolina, and the Pirates took a 34-31 win on the strength of Patrick Pinckney’s career-high 406 passing yards. While its safe to say he won’t approach that number again, the sixth-year senior is there to lead his team against the Tar Heels again. The Tar Heels have a lot to prove this game. First of all, Davis-coached UNC teams are 2-4 against in-state rivals, with both wins coming against juggernaut doormat Duke. While at Miami, Davis went 0-3 against the Pirates. In a 2009-only picture, there are more motivating factors on hand, the first being that the AP voters dropped the Heels 5 spots for winning ON THE ROAD AGAINST A BCS OPPONENT! Not going to touch that one, but DE E.J. Wilson said in a tweet, “forget the AP poll lol”. I couldn’t agree more. Look for the Heels to install some more wrinkles on offense, whether that means an extra WR here or there or the extension of A.J. Blue’s ‘Diesel’ package. Stats and Trends - Carolina’s longest pass play of the year thus far went for 26 yards. For comparison’s sake, 24 passes covered 26 yards or longer last year. - Opponents are 4/29 on 3rd down against the Tar Heels so far this year, good for 4th lowest conversion percentage in the nation. - Found it interesting to see that Carolina’s 2nd and 3rd-leading tacklers were the starting corners, Kendric Burney and Charles Brown. A lot of this has to do with the exorbitant amount of screen passes thrown by The Citadel and Connecticut, and shows how well they have been able to tackle in the open field. - Related to the previous trend, Patrick Pinckney is only averaging 4.6 yards per pass attempt. While his 42% completion percentage is a factor in this, it also tells me that the Pirates will try to spread the field wide and throw short. Players to Watch - ECU safety Van Eskridge: He said himself that he was out of position on at least two of West Virginia’s long pass plays last week, and his improvement will dictate whether or not North Carolina tries to throw the long ball. The returning first-team All-CUSA player could make a few big plays for the Pirates too. - North Carolina’s WRs: Doesn’t matter who, but somebody has to emerge as a go-to guy. Freshman Erik Highsmith made big strides towards this last week, and I expect him to get the start over Josh Adams at the ‘X’ receiver position this week.

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- North Carolina C Cameron Holland: Making his first start against Connecticut last week, Holland was among the O-linemen that got manhandled for three quarters. Coaches seemed to be reluctant to go to the shotgun even during the comeback, and I wonder if that had anything to do with Holland’s snapping abilities. If he can hold up against a strong ECU defensive line, the Heels should be able to run the ball like they did against The Citadel and in the 4th quarter of the UConn game. For North Carolina to Win Don’t give the Pirates a short field. Of the 16 points scored against Carolina this year, 13 have been on drives that have started deep in Carolina territory after turnovers. It would help to get the running game back going and establish a vertical passing threat, but we’ll take it one step at a time. For East Carolina to Win Patrick Pinckney is going to have to play more like he did vs. UNC in 2007, and less like he has thus far in 2009 (28/66, 306 yards, 2 TD 3 int). RB Dominique Lindsay is likely out, so even more responsibility falls on the 24-year old quarterback. The Pirates’ defense is going to have to force turnovers and give the offense good field position to allow them to score on Carolina’s vaunted D. Fearless Prediction I’m honestly a little bit nervous about this one. Not Virginia Tech on the road nervous, but this game means so much to ECU. This is their Super Bowl, as far as the fanbase is concerned. I expect the Pirates to come out fired up and the Tar Heels to start a bit slow. The defense will pick up the slack again, however, and the Tar Heels win another nailbiter. Carolina 16, East Carolina 13. Around the ACC Last week: 9-1. Overall: 17-4. Be impressed. FSU’s blogger was 9-1 last week too, and we’re in a race to see who has the first perfect week. Y’all know I’ve got this. Another big week for the conference, as the Coastal Division race should heat up a bit due to tonight’s Miami/Ga. Tech game. Duke, Virginia Tech, and Florida State all face tests against ranked opponents, and Virginia travels to face C-USA favorite Southern Miss. #14 Georgia Tech 27, Miami 20: The Yellow Jackets win their second consecutive Thursday nighter, this time on the road against Miami. I’m nervous about this pick since the Canes had 10 days to prepare for the Jackets’ option offense, but I’m skeptical about the discipline of their defense until proven otherwise. The Jackets rolled up over 400 yards on the ground against the Canes last year. #22 Kansas 38, Duke 27: I think Duke covers the spread (currently +22.5) and even stays in this game into the third quarter. However, Kansas has too much firepower for the Blue Devils to seal the deal, and they pull away in the second half. I’ll be watching to see if Duke backup QB Sean Renfree gets more snaps this week. Clemson 28, Boston College 19: BC has allowed 7 points this season while scoring 90. That stat isn’t quite so glowing when you realize their previous opponents were Northeastern and Kent State. A trip to Death Valley against a Tigers team that showed a lot of heart in coming back against Georgia Tech last Thursday is enough for me to pick Clemson to get to 1-1 in conference play. Southern Miss 35, Virginia 14: I’ve been calling it for two weeks now. This is Al Groh’s swan song. Or, the Wahoos do what they’ve done so many times in previous season and win one with

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coach’s job on the line. #13 Virginia Tech 27, #19 Nebraska 17: It’s tough to call a Week 3 nonconference tilt a mustwin, but Virginia Tech, as the standard bearer of the conference, has to win this football game for the league. I think Ryan Williams and Beamer Ball get it done. Maryland 41, Middle Tennessee St. 34: I think this game goes to OT. I have little faith in Maryland to blow out even a bad opponent, and I think this goes down to the wire. N.C. State 34, Gardner Webb 17: People don’t realize that this is essentially the same G-W team that took Georgia Tech down to the wire last year. State will win, but not in the fashion they did last week. Wake Forest 41, Elon 10: Nothing to see here. #7 BYU 26, Florida State 24: A game I’m really excited to see, I think BYU’s defense controls the Noles well enough and the atmosphere in Provo is enough to win it. BCS defenders lose a lot of sleep on Saturday night.

Recap: UNC 31, ECU 17 September 20, 2009 Another week, another solid nonconference win for the Tar Heels, putting them at 7-0 outside the ACC over the past two years. The defense led the charge yet again, only giving up 55 yards rushing, but the offense finally hit some semblance of a stride with 433 total yards. Carolina can definitely take away a lot of positives from this game, but as Coach Butch Davis said, “We’re still a long ways away, there are still things we have to continue to strive to get better at.” This was as complete a team effort as I’ve seen from the Heels in quite some time. After they scored to tie the game at 7, there was no doubt in my mind that they would come away with the W. They did just that, and here’s what I saw: - T.J. Yates had a GREAT game, and I feel he is really starting to ‘get it’ as a leader. He looks much more comfortable and composed on the field than he did as an underclassman, was decisive with his passes and his scrambles, and didn’t try to force anything. 227 yards, 2 touchdowns, 5 incompletions. Great game. - The O-line solved a lot of the problems it had last week at Connecticut. The Pirates didn’t touch Yates all day and the running backs were able to get a respectable 4 yards per carry. - Nice blocked kick, Cam Thomas. Moore County in the house. - Erik Highsmith and Jheranie Boyd look like the guys who wore the same jerseys last year (Hakeem Nicks and Brandon Tate, respectively). Highsmith had 6 catches, 3 on quick hitches that he turned into big gains with great elusiveness after the catch. Boyd’s first career catch went for 59 yards and a touchdown, and he possesses the speed and ball skills to be the home run threat this team needs. - The defense, again. Wow. Marvin Austin has had the light come on the past couple of weeks, and his presence is making it impossible for opponents to run the ball. I’ll withhold judgment until after the Georgia Tech game this week, but our front four is establishing itself as one of the country’s elite. - Zach Brown is beginning to worry me a little bit. His tackling just isn’t up to par with the rest of the defense, as he breaks down rather than attacking the ball carrier. On one play in particular in

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the third quarter, he hit ECU’s running back, bounced off of him, then aimed too high and again missed him. I think 47 can bounce back, but I’d like to see Kevin Reddick get a little bit of action on the weak side this weekend. - Special teams: our Achilles’ heel. Casey Barth missed another chip shot field goal and Grant Shallock averaged 31 yards a punt. Unacceptable. He was also very slow in his release, and a team like Virginia Tech could definitely take advantage. When you have to rely on your D, as it appears we will have to in most games, field position becomes vital. We’re not winning that battle right now. - I concentrated on watching the substitution patterns yesterday. At one point, only Kendric Burney, Charles Brown, and Marvin Austin were on the field from our first-team defense. Dion Guy has exceeded my expectations for him at linebacker, and Michael McAdoo and Quinton Coples again showed why they would be starting for about 100 FBS teams right now. - In my UNC preview, I said that A.J. Blue was perfect for the Wildcat formation because of his ability to throw the ball. We finally saw it yesterday, and he didn’t disappoint with a bullet to Erik Highsmith. I think we see a lot more of this in upcoming weeks. Game Ball I had a tough time with this decision. Robert Quinn was dominant, Erik Highsmith showcased his ability, and the offensive line overcame a lot of questions to deliver a good performance. T.J. Yates, however, delivered one of the best QB performances Carolina has seen since the days of Darian Durant. He was efficient and only once made a questionable throw. He seemed to be reading the defense and going through his progressions like a seasoned veteran. After losing Zack Pianalto, Yates found other playmakers and emerged as the undisputed leader of this offense.

ACC Power Rankings, week 3 September 21, 2009 Another Saturday, another bittersweet result for the ACC. In the high-profile matchups, the league did great with Florida State’s win at BYU and Virginia Tech’s escape against Nebraska. On the negative side, Virginia blew a chance to steal a road win from C-USA favorite Southern Miss, and Maryland failed to show up for the third week in a row. 1) Miami (2-0, 2-0 ACC, defeated Georgia Tech 33-17): I felt like maybe I had overrated them when I put them #1 in my first power rankings, but after a convincing win over Georgia Tech, the Canes are 2-0 against good ACC competition. A win at Virginia Tech on Saturday puts them in the driver’s seat for the Coastal Division title. 2) Florida State (2-1, 0-1 ACC, defeated BYU 54-28): They caused their week in the hole (last week’s ranking: #8) with a failure to show up against Jacksonville State. They made their own luck in my rankings again with a thrilling display in Provo on Saturday night. The Noles completely dominated in all aspects and sent a message to the nation that they may be back. T-3) Virginia Tech (2-1, 0-0 ACC, defeated Nebraska 16-15): While I was not impressed by Virginia Tech’s performance (86 yards rushing, 11 first downs), they did what Frank Beamer teams do, and that is find a way to win. Big test with Miami coming to town this week, and I expect Lane Stadium to be rocking. T-3) North Carolina (3-0, 0-0 ACC, defeated ECU 31-17): ECU doubled the Tar Heels’ previous

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two opponents’ combined output in long scoring drives with two, but still only managed 55 yards rushing and 247 total. This defense will keep the Heels in every game. If the offense can continue to play like it did Saturday, the Heels are a legitimate threat to make it to Tampa Bay. We’ll learn a lot about this team in Atlanta this weekend. 5) Clemson (2-1, 1-1 ACC, defeated Boston College 25-7): Wow, 54 total yards for Boston College. Clearly, Dabo Swinney didn’t allow the close loss to Georgia Tech last Thursday create a hangover for the team. 6) Georgia Tech (2-1, 1-1 ACC, lost at Miami 33-17): Miami did what any team should do against the Yellow Jackets: attack early, build a lead, and force them to pass the ball. The loss of Jonathan Dwyer in the 2nd quarter didn’t help their cause any, but they never really competed in this game. Saturday’s tilt against North Carolina will provide them the opportunity to either bounce back or be left for dead in the Coastal race. 7) N.C. State (2-1, 0-0 ACC, defeated Gardner-Webb 45-14): Another win against unimpressive competition, but Russell Wilson is back to showing us why he was the ACC’s first teamer at QB last year and in the preseason. 345 yards and 4 TD’s, along with the national record for pass attempts without an interception. Jacory Harris will get all the love (much-deserved at this time), but it looks like Wilson is back to playing football after his summer away playing baseball. 8 ) Wake Forest (2-1, 0-0 ACC, defeated Elon 35-7): Like State’s win, it’s hard to take too much away from this one. They didn’t manhandle the Phoenix by any measure, but the win serves as a good tune-up for next week’s trip to Boston College. 9) Boston College (2-1, 0-1 ACC, lost at Clemson 25-7): UGLY performance against the Tigers. After rolling two bad teams to start the season, the Eagles’ putrid offensive display (they didn’t get a first down until the fourth quarter) is reason for concern. Unranked: I can’t justify putting Virginia, Duke, and Maryland in any kind of order, as none deserves to be in the top 10 of any BCS conference right now (that includes the Big East, which only has 8 teams). Good news: Virginia’s offense showed signs of life (Jameel Sewell: 316 yards, 2 TD), Da’Rel Scott is productive (117 yards on 13 carries) but needs more carries for the Terps, and Duke played a ranked opponent well for about 20 minutes. The bad news is too extensive to address. This week, there are two HUGE Coastal Division matchups. UNC plays at Georgia Tech at noon on Saturday, followed by an old Big East rivalry with Virginia Tech hosting Miami. Wake Forest travels to Chestnut Hill to open its ACC slate against Boston College. The ACC can build on a successful weekend with three more good nonconference games this week, as Clemson hosts a tough TCU team, Florida State gets the Matt Grothe-less South Florida Bulls, and N.C. State hosts Pitt. Should be a fun Saturday.

Incredible stat gives perspective to last decade of UNC football September 21, 2009 Originally posted by GoHeelsGo on InsideCarolina.com, I have asked (and been granted) his permission to display the table here at RTTB. What you’ll find is Carolina’s last 100 games, a time which dates back to the 2001 season. Over that time period, Carolina has outgained 40 opponents, but only done so by more than 100

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yards five times. GHG has arranged these past 100 games in order of net yards, and what you will find was that the East Carolina game was the most lopsided game (in Carolina’s favor) in total yards since a 2001 drubbing of Clemson (besides games against Duke and FCS opponents). Date

Coach W/L

H/A

YA

Diff

Opponent

11/17/01

JB

W

H

52

17

560

231

329

Duke

11/20/04

JB

W

A

40

17

486

234

252

Duke

09/05/09

BD

W

H

40

06

375

153

222

The Citadel

10/20/01

JB

W

A

38

03

425

209

216

Clemson

09/19/09

BD

W

H

31

17

433

247

186

East Carolina

09/07/02

JB

W

A

30

22

436

254

182

Syracuse

11/19/05

JB

W

H

24

21

401

244

157

Duke

09/04/04

JB

W

H

49

38

575

442

133

William & Mary

10/30/04

JB

W

H

31

28

545

415

130

Miami (Fla.)

10/13/07

BD

L

15

21

398

282

10/06/01

JB

W

H

24

21

412

299

113

East Carolina

12/31/01

JB

W

B

16

10

288

176

112

Auburn

10/25/08

BD

W

H

45

24

352

244

108

Boston College

10/11/03

JB

W

A

28

17

387

289

98

East Carolina

10/28/06

JB

L

H

17

24

370

289

81

Wake Forest

11/23/02

JB

W

A

23

21

397

317

80

Duke

09/22/01

JB

W

H

41

09

301

224

77

Florida State

09/01/07

BD

W

H

37

14

327

250

77

James Madison

12/01/01

JB

W

H

19

10

374

298

76

SMU

10/13/01

JB

W

H

30

24

477

405

72

Virginia

09/12/09

BD

W

A

12

10

268

196

72

Connecticut

10/22/05

JB

W

H

07

05

270

199

71

Virginia

08/31/02

JB

L

H

21

27

447

379

68

Miami (Ohio)

11/13/04

JB

W

A

31

24

400

335

65

Wake Forest

09/29/07

BD

L

A

10

17

306

241

65

Virginia Tech

11/10/01

JB

L

H

31

32

415

354

61

Wake Forest

11/25/06

JB

W

A

45

44

453

394

59

Duke

10/18/08

BD

L

13

16

332

275

57

Virginia

09/24/05

JB

W

31

24

321

270

51

NC State

09/15/07

BD

L

H

20

22

399

350

49

Virginia

09/09/06

JB

L

H

10

35

268

224

44

Virginia Tech

H

A A

PF

PA

YF

116

South Carolina

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10/27/07

BD

L

A

10

37

313

269

44

Wake Forest

09/02/06

JB

L

H

16

21

403

362

41

Rutgers

09/20/08

BD

L

H

17

20

307

268

39

Virginia Tech

09/17/05

JB

L

H

05

14

338

304

34

Wisconsin

09/18/04

JB

W

H

34

13

426

393

33

Georgia Tech

09/01/01

JB

L

A

07

23

276

247

29

Maryland

10/19/02

JB

L

A

27

37

451

423

28

Virginia

11/29/08

BD

W

A

28

20

369

350

19

Duke

08/25/01

JB

L

A

27

41

290

286

4

Oklahoma

11/15/03

JB

L

A

24

41

446

446

0

Georgia Tech

09/11/08

BD

W

A

44

12

378

383

(5)

Rutgers

08/30/08

BD

W

H

35

27

384

391

(7)

McNeese State

11/11/06

JB

L

H

00

07

211

221

(10)

Georgia Tech

10/06/07

BD

W

H

33

27

401

411

(10)

Miami

09/27/08

BD

W

A

28

24

299

309

(10)

Miami

09/06/03

JB

L

H

47

49

505

518

(13)

Syracuse (3OT)

09/29/01

JB

W

A

17

09

347

361

(14)

NC State

10/01/05

JB

W

H

31

17

352

378

(26)

Utah

11/05/05

JB

W

H

16

14

310

337

(27)

Boston College

10/25/03

JB

L

A

28

36

495

528

(33)

Clemson

11/03/07

BD

W

H

16

13

259

302

(43)

Maryland

09/08/07

BD

L

A

31

34

423

470

(47)

East Carolina

11/15/08

BD

L

A

15

17

285

336

(51)

Maryland

09/27/03

JB

L

A

34

47

550

615

(65)

NC State

11/16/02

JB

L

A

14

40

359

430

(71)

Florida State

11/06/04

JB

L

H

24

27

296

370

(74)

Virginia Tech

09/16/06

JB

W

H

45

42

446

521

(75)

Furman

11/17/07

BD

L

A

25

27

362

438

(76)

Georgia Tech

10/12/02

JB

L

H

17

34

351

428

(77)

NC State

10/02/04

JB

L

A

16

38

363

442

(79)

Florida State

10/07/06

JB

L

A

07

27

244

324

(80)

Miami

11/18/06

JB

W

H

23

09

260

341

(81)

NC State

12/27/08

BD

L

B

30

31

370

455

(85)

West Virginia

11/08/03

JB

W

H

42

34

475

562

(87)

Wake Forest

09/20/03

JB

L

A

27

38

309

402

(93)

Wisconsin

11/10/07

BD

L

A

27

31

303

396

(93)

NC State

campus coRrespondent 36


09/28/02

JB

L

H

13

21

299

396

(97)

Georgia Tech

11/12/05

JB

L

H

30

33

424

524

(100)

Maryland (OT)

11/08/08

BD

W

H

28

07

314

423

(109)

Georgia Tech

11/24/07

BD

W

H

20

14

249

360

(111)

Duke

12/30/04

JB

L

B

24

37

364

477

(113)

Boston College

09/08/01

JB

L

A

14

44

211

326

(115)

Texas

09/11/04

JB

L

A

24

56

434

549

(115)

Virginia

10/04/08

BD

W

H

38

12

263

378

(115)

Connecticut

10/08/05

JB

L

A

14

69

332

451

(119)

Louisville

11/01/01

JB

L

A

21

28

299

424

(125)

Georgia Tech

10/14/06

JB

L

H

20

37

285

417

(132)

USF

10/29/05

JB

L

A

16

34

188

321

(133)

Miami

09/10/05

JB

L

A

21

27

341

475

(134)

Georgia Tech

11/22/03

JB

L

H

22

30

289

425

(136)

Duke

11/26/05

JB

L

A

03

30

196

338

(142)

Virginia Tech

10/26/02

JB

L

A

00

31

312

458

(146)

Wake Forest

10/11/08

BD

W

H

29

24

322

472

(150)

Notre Dame

10/05/02

JB

W

A

38

35

478

657

(179)

Arizona State

10/19/06

JB

L

A

00

23

182

370

(188)

Virginia

11/04/06

JB

L

A

26

45

244

452

(208)

Notre Dame

10/09/04

JB

W

H

30

24

356

577

(221)

NC State

09/14/02

JB

L

H

21

52

343

569

(226)

Texas

11/01/03

JB

L

A

21

59

385

612

(227)

Maryland

09/25/04

JB

L

H

00

34

222

455

(233)

Louisville

10/04/03

JB

L

H

13

38

265

515

(250)

Virginia

08/30/03

JB

L

H

00

37

295

553

(258)

Florida State

11/22/08

BD

L

H

10

41

203

466

(263)

NC State

09/22/07

BD

L

A

10

37

164

428

(264)

USF

10/18/03

JB

L

H

31

33

331

598

(267)

Arizona State

11/02/02

JB

L

H

07

59

312

588

(276)

Maryland

11/09/02

JB

L

H

12

42

244

530

(286)

Clemson

09/23/06

JB

L

A

07

52

150

504

(354)

Clemson

10/16/04

JB

L

A

16

46

221

669

(448)

Utah

The first three games of this season also mark the first time since 2001 where the Heels have outgained 3 opponents in a row. What this tells me is that, yes, the ship is absolutely righted and the Heels are on the rise. The numbers are there to back it up. Thanks again, GHG.

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Roundtable with Georgia Tech’s blogger September 22, 2009 I sat down with (actually GMail chatted with) Georgia Tech’s Campus Correspondent so we could exchange our thoughts on Saturday’s Coastal Division showdown between Carolina and Georgia Tech. Here are the highlights: UNC: Coming off of your loss to Miami, how do you expect the team to react this Saturday? GT: I think rest is a big thing. They played 3 games in 13 days, and i think most of their attention preseason was on Clemson, not Miami. GT had a couple days of rest, and Coach Johnson has had some time to figure things out on offense. That being said, I don’t think the offense will all of a sudden come out and click, or that the defense will suddenly learn the basics in pass coverage. UNC: Name one player that the Heels should be on the lookout for this week? GT: On offense, Demaryius Thomas is leading the league with 109 receiving yards per game, despite being double covered last week. The question is whether Nesbitt can get him the ball, because he is really inaccurate. Same question for UNC: one player who could be the big factor Saturday? UNC: You have to watch out for our whole D-line, but in particular watch Robert Quinn. He’s really come into his own as a sophomore and his speed will allow him to take the QB or chase down the A-back from the weak side. GT: Best rushing O vs. best rushing D. UNC: True, but your rushing O isn’t exactly The Citadel, UConn, or ECU. UNC: How about the other side of the ball? What do you see that either team might potentially be able to exploit? GT: Defensively, GT isn’t ready to compete. The D-line is so young (and DE Robert Hall hurt his knee thursday). DE Derrick Morgan might be the best DE in the conference, but can’t do it if he’s double teamed. LB’s will continue to be weak until Kyle Jackson is healthy again. The secondary has the talent to be good at any moment, but hard hitting safety Cooper Taylor probably wont play Saturday. GT: How does your O-line look? UNC: Still a little shady. RG Jonathan Cooper is still struggling with a sprained ankle, and after losing 5 OL we expected to contribute for various reasons in the offseason, we’re one more injury away from starting either a true freshman or converted DL (we’ve converted 2 since Spring ball). Although they looked good for the most part against ECU, I’m not sold that the Pirates are a very strong defensive team. GT: The young receivers are holding their own? Running back by committee working? UNC: The receivers have looked great for the past 5 quarters. You’ll hear the hype begin to build around Erik Highsmith (#88). Also, we should get Dwight Jones back for his first game of the season. He hasn’t showed us anything on the field yet playing behind the NFL guys a season ago, but was highly regarded coming out of high school. We’re only really using two backs. You’ll see Shaun Draughn get the bulk of the carries, with Ryan Houston getting a lot when the D is tired, or to punch it in from the red zone.

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UNC: I think y’all have a HUGE advantage in special teams. Our punting has been abysmal and your returns have been pretty good. Also our kicker is unreliable from outside 40 yards. GT: Our kicker sucks from outside 40, but is great inside. Jerrard Terrant is great return man. UNC: I’m afraid of your blocking techniques, I feel like its a good way to get D-Linemen in the trenches hurt. Your thoughts? GT: Yeah, thats the thing about the blocking. If GT’s little A-backs do it right, the corners and LB’s shouldnt want to go after the ball carrier. The refs often called chop blocking last year b/c opposing coaches thought it was cheap and would remind them to keep an eye out, but GT hasnt been called for chop blocks yet this season. UNC: Most importantly, what’s your prediction for the game? GT: PJ didnt suffer back to back losses last year, and bounced back pretty well after each one. For instance, after losing to UNC last year we twerked Miami. I’ll go with GT 21 UNC 17. UNC: Y’all are favored -2.5, but i’m going Heels 24, Jackets 21.

Game Preview: #22 North Carolina at Georgia Tech September 24, 2009 Sept. 26, 2009, 12:00 p.m. (getting tired of these nooners). Georgia Tech leads all-time series 23-18-3. Introduction The theme of this game will be reversing trends. Carolina is winless in Atlanta since 1997 (although many recent contests have come down to the wire), and has won just 2 of the previous 11 matchups against the Yellow Jackets. The Jackets, meanwhile, are steaming over their 28-7 loss to the Tar Heels in Kenan Stadium a year ago. At stake for both teams is an opportunity to get a leg up in the Coastal Division race. Carolina, amazingly, has not won its ACC opener since defeating Wake Forest in 2000. Georgia Tech is reeling from a loss to division rival Miami, and needs this game to stay in the hunt. Injuries will play a big role in this game for both teams. Missing for Carolina will be TE Zack Pianalto, who would have a field day against Ga. Tech’s weak coverage in the middle of the field, and C Lowell Dyer. LG Jonathan Cooper has been practicing, but is currently listed as questionable on the injury report. For Georgia Tech, starting DE Robert Hall and S Cooper Taylor are both out, making a defense that has struggled for the past 7 quarters more vulnerable. Of larger concern, returning ACC Offensive Player of the year Jonathan Dwyer is listed as questionable, but all indications are that he will play with a shoulder injury. This will be a classic battle of strength vs. strength, and weakness vs. weakness. Georgia Tech’s running game is as dominant as any other in the country, but Carolina is giving up 1.8 yards per rush. On the other side of the ball, Tech’s defense is ranked 87th in the nation and will take on Carolina’s modest offense, which is looking to sustain the momentum from last week’s performance against East Carolina. Stats and Trends - While the scoreboard may not have indicated it, Georgia Tech was absolutely in last year’s 28-7 loss. They rushed for 326 yards and only trailed 7-0 before being derailed by turnovers in the 4th

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quarter. On the flip side, 85 of those yards came on a Dwyer run when the outcome was settled. - There is a little bit of a paradox going on in Georgia Tech’s passing game. The attack as a whole ranks a putrid 110th among FBS teams, as Josh Nesbitt’s accuracy is currently sitting at 37.5%. On the flip side, WR Demaryius Thomas ranks 1st in the ACC and 11th in the country with 327 yards receiving. What does it mean? Stop Thomas and stop Tech’s passing game. Nesbitt has completed 3 passes to his teammates besides big number 8. - Louisville transfer Anthony Allen is second on the Yellow Jackets in rushing with an astounding 190 yards on just 14 carries (13.6 yards per rush). Keying on him in the open field is key, as I don’t like our defensive backs’ chances against this fast, 230-pound freight train. - For his efforts against Clemson, K Scott Blair is by far the Jackets’ most efficient passer at 1-1 for 34 yards and a TD. - Carolina WR Erik Highsmith became the first freshman WR since Hakeem Nicks to go over 100 yards in a game. Is it just me, or is there something about the number 88 that makes T.J. Yates really comfortable? - P Grant Shallock averaged a pitiful 31 yards per punt last week. That won’t fly against an offense that consistently can at least get into field goal range with a competent kicker. Not to mention punt returner Jerrard Terrant has already taken two punts back for scores this year. - The much-maligned Carolina offensive line kept Yates’ jersey clean last Saturday against ECU after giving up 6 sacks against UConn. Tech didn’t get to Miami QB Jacory Harris once last weekend. Hopefully that trend continues for both sides. Players to Watch - Carolina WR Greg Little: Lost in the hype surrounding Highsmith, Little has churned out production to the tune of 15 receptions for 135 yards. Most of his catches have come on underneath routes in the middle of the field, which is where Tech’s defense has appeared most vulnerable this year. Look for him to lull the Jackets to sleep with some catch-and-run opportunities then take a seam route for a big gain later in the game. - Carolina DT’s Marvin Austin and Cam Thomas: The key to stopping the option is first and foremost to control the line of scrimmage and shut down the dive back (in this case, Dwyer). Last year, Carolina’s discipline did just that. If the big boys can collapse Tech’s interior line, look for it to be a long day for the Jackets. - Tech DE Derrick Morgan: The future NFL pick has 5 sacks to his credit already this season, but was shut down last week. Look for the one-man pass rush to come out with a chip on his shoulder this week and get to Yates a time or two. For North Carolina to win: Discipline on both sides of the ball. Speed is the ultimate kryptonite for option offense, and Carolina has it in spades. If they can play disciplined and stay with their assignments, the Jackets’ running game should be stuck in the mud. Offensively, discipline means holding on to the football in a hostile environment. Yates’ composure will help in this regard, but Tech will be hungry and looking to take advantage of even the slightest errors in judgment. For Georgia Tech to win: The defense has to be better than the one we’ve seen the past 6 quarters. As coach Paul Johnson said, “we’re not really good at anything right now.” The offense needs to add a wrinkle

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or two to keep the Heels’ stout rush D from making it a long day for Nesbitt, Dwyer, and Co. Aggressiveness on special teams may help as well, as Carolina’s punting game and kick coverage have been suspect at best. Fearless prediction: I gave this away in my discussion with Tech’s blogger, but I think the Heels win, 24-21 based on an improved offense that should put the ball in the end zone a few times, a defense that has bent but not broken against this Jackets offense before, and hopefully a couple of mistakes by the boys from Tech (they’re overdue, no fumbles lost in the past two games). Around the ACC Last week: 6-3. Overall: 23-7. Proclaiming a perfect weekend like I did last go-around was a bit presumptuous of me. I’ll try to get my confidence back before taking another shot at such a lofty goal. As I said in my power rankings, this is a big week for the ACC both in and out of conference. The Coastal race will begin to take shape after Saturday afternoon’s showdowns (the other being Miami/Va. Tech). #18 Florida St. 34, South Florida 16: Before USF QB Matt Grothe’s season-ending ACL tear, I had this tabbed as a game to watch. Without him, I think the ‘Noles take care of ‘little brother’ in the first-ever meeting between these two schools. What I will watch is to see if FSU can sustain the offensive productivity it established at Brigham Young last week. Wake Forest 23, Boston College 16: Neither team has overwhelmed me this year, but I like Riley Skinner vs. the Eagles’ D better than I like anything about the Eagles’ O. I’ll take the Deacons on the road. N.C. State 27, Pittsburgh 24: Tom O’Brien admires the Panthers, and I think they are among the contenders in the Big East (then again, who isn’t?) I think the Pack takes more positives from their past two cupcake wins than negatives from their only game against real competition (a loss to South Carolina) and gets to 3-1 with a nonconference win. Rutgers 35, Maryland 24: 52, 35, 32. That’s the number of points the Terrapins have given up in each of their first three games, the most recent two against James Madison and Middle Tennessee St. I think they exceed expectations in only giving up 35 to Rutgers, but they lose this battle of two teams stuck in geographical ACC-Big East purgatory. Clemson 31, #15 TCU 16: The death march of BCS busters continues, as Clemson is simply too talented to allow the Horned Frogs to come to Death Valley and win this one. In related news, Clemson’s alternating underachieving/overachieving trend continues, and the Tigers vault into next week’s top 25. #11 Virginia Tech 22, #9 Miami 13: I think the pollsters elevated Miami too high too fast, but their body of work thus far is impressive. This is the type of game where VT will go against the hype and assert themselves, again, as the team to beat. Look for Ryan Williams to have a breakout performance and establish himself as the hands-down ACC Rookie of the Year. (If Miami jumps 11 spots in the AP for beating Ga. Tech at home, what kind of courtesy would Carolina be granted for doing it on the road? Knock on wood.) Duke 52, N.C. Central 13: I don’t know what’s more embarrassing: The fact that Duke scheduled this mediocre D-II program, or the fact that I’ve seen a commercial pumping up the ‘Bull City Classic’ (read: they’ve never played before) about 15 times in the past two weeks. My

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upset special: I expect the World Beer Durham Festival to have more attendance from Duke fans than this actual game, and Wallace Wade Stadium will be at least 50% NCCU fans.

Power Rankings, week 4 September 28, 2009 Another week is in the books, and I swear I haven’t been hiding due to the embarrassing outcome of Carolina’s game on Saturday. Rather, I have been buried in the library churning out papers and studying for tests. Here’s what I saw and interpreted from this past week: 1) Virginia Tech (3-1, 1-1 ACC, defeated Miami 31-7): One of the more impressive performances of the weekend, the Hokies shut down Heisman pretender Jacory Harris and were successful running the ball vs. the Canes. The special teams were pure Beamerball as well. 2) Miami (3-1, 2-1 ACC, lost to Virginia Tech 31-7): I have trouble penalizing the Canes too badly, as they ran into a tough crowd, motivated team, and nasty weather. Fact is, their resume is still better than anyone else’s. 3) Georgia Tech (3-1, 2-1 ACC, defeated North Carolina 24-7): I thought the change from a 4-2-5 to a 4-3 was more of a smoke and mirrors approach by Paul Johnson to hide their deficiencies, but the defense came out like a house of fire against Carolina. Meanwhile, their offense did exactly what it was supposed to do: execute and hold on to the ball (for 42 minutes…wow). 4) N.C. State (3-1, 0-0 ACC, defeated Pittsburgh 38-31): The Wolfpack won a shootout, and garners the jump of the week due mostly to the yeoman-like work of Russell Wilson. Do I think they’re the 4th best team in the ACC? No, but they were a lot less disappointing than the 3 teams below them. 5) North Carolina (3-1, 0-1 ACC, lost to Georgia Tech 24-7): Simply put, the Heels came out flat in all three phases. The offense needs to get vertical if they’re going to rise above this spot in the rankings anytime this season. Help should be on the way, as the schedule clears (we hope) until an Oct. 22 showdown with… 6) Florida State (2-2, 0-1 ACC, lost to South Florida 17-7): White out: Lame. Performance against a team that just lost the most prolific player in its team’s history: Lame. After a big win at BYU, the Noles seemed to rest on their laurels and came out as flat as UNC on Saturday. 7) Clemson (2-2, 1-1 ACC, lost to TCU 14-10): Teams 5-7 all seem to be working on the same story for the season: bad offense, good defense. Clemson blew a lot of opportunities, and should have won this game. 8 ) Boston College (3-1, 1-1 ACC, defeated Wake 27-24 in OT): 25-year old QB Dave Shinskie was spectacular (at least compared with the performance of Justin Tuggle in last week’s game). 9) Wake Forest (2-2, 0-1 ACC, lost to BC 27-24 in OT): Wasted a career performance by WR Malcolm Williams (12 rec, 180 yards) and probably should have won this game, if not for a broken play in overtime, where Riley Skinner was left without a running back to hand off to and fumbled. 10) Duke (2-2, 0-0 ACC, defeated N.C. Central 49-14): They won a game, so they get their ranking back. Not that NCCU is a season-changer… Virginia and Maryland: still in purgatory. Virginia got a much needed bye week this past Saturday to prepare for North Carolina, and Maryland lost ugly again, at home to Rutgers 34-13. The

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Terps’ loss was another factor in a less-than-spectacular week for the conference, which saw two teams lose nonconference home dates against beatable yet respected foes. Two ranked teams laid stinkers this week as well, and the ACC is left with more questions than answers for yet another week.

Great read on a great player– Big #42 September 30, 2009 http://www.newsobserver.com/sports/story/118484.html As a back story for those who don’t know, Quinn was diagnosed with a brain tumor his senior year of high school. UNC, Auburn, and Alabama, his three final schools, all maintained that he had a football scholarship regardless of whether or not he played again. Now, he’s playing better than anyone else in Carolina blue, and this is a good tribute to his battle, humility, and resilience.

UNC Injury report for UVA game October 1, 2009 Out (Season) Carl Gaskins OL Knee Matt Merletti DB Knee Trevor Stuart DS Knee Out (Game) Lowell Dyer C Shoulder Zack Pianalto TE Foot Ryan Taylor TE Knee Doubtful Linwan Euwell LB Ankle Questionable Joshua Adams WR Shoulder Jonathan Cooper OG Ankle Anthony Elzy FB Shoulder

Game Preview: Virginia at North Carolina October 2, 2009 Introduction ‘The South’s Oldest Rivalry’ pits a reeling Virginia team against a UNC team that has problems of its own to figure out. After looking miserable in their first two games, UVA looked competent in their 37-34 loss against Southern Miss. Couple that with an extra week to prepare for the Carolina game and a 3-game winning streak in the series, and there is reason for the Tar Heels to be a little bit nervous.

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Virginia QB Jameel Sewell looked a lot more comfortable in OC Gregg Brandon’s spread in the week 3 loss to USM, throwing for 312 yards and 2 TD’s. He leads the team in passing and rushing (only 98 yards on 54 carries). The Wahoos’ 3-4 defense is versatile on paper, but is giving up 31 points per game. Only Maryland is giving up more. Coach Butch Davis called UVA’s offense “a guessing game” in reference to what to expect this week. Injuries continue to be an issue for the Heels, who will be missing TE Zack Pianalto and C Lowell Dyer for the third straight week. Hopefully LG Jonathan Cooper can return, as he is listed as questionable. The Tar Heels have a sour taste in their mouths from last year’s game, when they blew a 10-3 lead in the final two minutes as Marc Verica drove the ‘Hoos down the field to tie. In overtime, a Cedric Peerman run gave UVA the 16-13 win and extended their winning streak against Carolina in Charlottesville to 14. Hopefully that loss motivates the Heels to wake up for the noon game, something they haven’t seemed to do in weeks past. Stats and Trends - Carolina ran for 17 yards last week, continuing the Heels’ struggles in the ground game. Look for the Heels to look (again) to establish the run early, hopefully it works this time. - The Heels are -1 in turnovers for the season, and 10 giveaways through 4 games indicates that the offense is not yet playing winning football. - Virginia WR’s Javaris Brown and Tim Smith have only combined for 9 catches, but their catches are going for 22.6 and 25.1 yards per play, respectively, along with 3 TD’s. If Sewell looks deep, look for one of them to try to make a play. - If the Heels are going to make a move, look for the 2nd quarter to be the time to do it. On the year, they’re outscoring opponents 37-13 in the period. Just for inquiring minds, the other quarters are as follows: 1st: Opponents 14 Carolina 7; 3rd: Carolina 10, Opponents 7; 4th: Carolina 36, Opponents 23. - Carolina WR Erik Highsmith has posted back-to-back 100 yard games. His knack for finding holes in the defense will be important as the Heels need to find something to hang their hat on after last week’s repulsive 154-yard performance. Highsmith’s 107 yards were 69.5 percent of that. Ouch. Players to Watch Virginia ATH Vic Hall: Really don’t know what position to list him as, so we’ll go with ATH. He’s missed the past two games, but if he plays he’ll be a tough matchup for the Heels. Carolina K Casey Barth: The kicking game has been downright abysmal for the Tar Heels, and they can’t afford to come up empty after their rare sustained drives. Barth’s kicks have been an adventure. Cause for concern: his brother, Connor, was also awful his sophomore year. Carolina HB’s Shaun Draughn and Ryan Houston: Somebody needs to make this running game work. Honestly, I like Houston better as he has superior vision and always seems to fall forward. Draughn misses his hole often and needs to hit the line more aggressively. For Carolina to Win At this point, I have little faith in the offense. That being said, the defense is going to have to keep itself off the field and maybe create some points of their own. Sustain drives and execute and we’ll be okay. For Virginia to Win

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They shouldn’t win, but this is the type of job-saver Al Groh makes his living from. Rattling T.J. Yates early with pressure is the best way to create a short field for the offense, and getting Sewell and Hall involved both running and throwing will make it tough for Carolina’s D to adjust. Fearless Prediction Carolina 20, Virginia 13: Simply put, this is the type of game this program shouldn’t lose at this point. With the motivation of last year’s failure to finish (with a trip to Tampa on the line, no less) and last week’s embarrassment at Georgia Tech, the Heels should come out like a house of fire. Around the ACC Overall: 27-11, last week: a disappointing 4-4. Of note is the fact that I came within 4 points of calling Duke’s win over N.C. Central exactly right. We all have to hang our hats on something. #6 Virginia Tech 44, Duke 6: I was at this game 4 years ago, when the Hokies scored more points (45) than the Dukies had total yards (41). For some reason, that sticks out in my mind and I expect much of the same. Clemson 34, Maryland 10: Maryland’s exploits at this point are just, well, funny. I don’t think home field advantage really plays a role in this one unless Da’Rel Scott can get it going early. N.C. State 34, Wake Forest 28: I think Wake Forest does enough offensively to establish that State’s top-ranked defense (in total yards allowed) is a smokescreen. That being said, Russell Wilson may be turning an ACC player of the year campaign into a darkhorse Heisman candidacy. As a Carolina fan, it pains me to say that, but you heard it here first. Boston College 21, Florida State 17: Still have no clue as to why Gameday is going to Chestnut Hill, but I think the Eagles can catch the Jekyll-and-Hyde Seminoles on another downer. #25 Georgia Tech 28, Mississippi State 19: I’ll admit, I was impressed with Tech’s performance against my Heels last week coming off of a tough 6 quarters of football. If they really have it going, the Bulldogs D will have a long day ahead. All this being said, I’m probably overselling the Jackets due to my Carolina blue blinders. MSU did give LSU quite a game last weekend. #8 Oklahoma 38, #17 Miami 20: Another big nonconference game for the ACC that I simply don’t see us winning. While Landry Jones may not be Sam Bradford, he is absolutely getting the job done for the Sooners, who are still very much in the national title race.

Ouch. UNC/UVA recap October 4, 2009 I’m afraid of this quote’s implications, especially considering that it comes from our best player. “It’s very frustrating,” he said. “[The offense is] going three-and-out and we’re back on the field, or they’re turning the ball over and we’re back on the field. It’s a team game. I’m not trying to play the blame game, but the offense has got to help us some.” That was Robert Quinn after Carolina’s 16-3 loss to a previously winless Virginia team who had no business beating the Heels at home. Quinn was absolutely right in his assessment, as the offense was held well under 200 total yards for the second straight week. Is it stubborn playcalling by offensive coordinator John Shoop? It would be hard to argue after he came out on the first three drives (again) trying to establish the run, and again going three-

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and-out, three consecutive times. A wise man once said “play with the personnel you have, not the personnel you want.” Right now, Shoop is blindly throwing 11 square pegs into 11 round holes, and it’s frustrating as a fan to watch. I won’t put it all on the coaching, however. T.J. Yates seemed out of sorts, and when he did have time to throw he missed a few open receivers. Twice he missed Jheranie Boyd when he had a step on the defense for a sure touchdown. Shaun Draughn simply isn’t hitting the holes. He was effective when running with authority last year, but this year seems content to dance behind the offensive line looking for a chance to take it to the house. Without getting into too much of a ramble, here are my thoughts from a miserable day of football on a beautiful fall afternoon: - First, the good: the aforementioned monster Robert Quinn had 3 sacks, giving him 6 for the season and convincing at least one fan that he’s going to be the next All-Pro from Carolina. Thankfully, we get him for at least another season. - Greg Little led the offense by example yesterday, running with authority when he had the ball in his hands. Firmly established as the underneath receiver in this offense, his 8 catches, some on balls thrown much too high, were the offense’s lone bright spot on the day. - Grant Shallock averaged 43 yards on his 8 punts, one of the best performances of his season. He didn’t necessarily flip the field any, but he did give the D a chance to play with at least some breathing room. DISCLAIMER: It’s bad news when one of the two positives you take away from a game is how well the punter played. Here we go with what I didn’t like. - “It’s a defense we haven’t seen much of before,” said T.J. Yates after the game. I don’t know where to start with this one, but it ends in a question of where the focus and preparation were this week. The best way to beat a 3-4 defense is NOT to dink-and-dunk passes. - I hope we can put up some points next week and allow Jamal Womble and a young QB a chance to get some action. I’m not convinced that our current personnel is the answer. - At this point, I’m convinced that the A.J. Blue ‘Diesel’ package is more of a mechanism to make opposing defenses waste some time in practice than a committed approach to moving the football. We’ve seen Blue throw from it twice now, but he still has yet to hand off to Johnny White on the read option. It just looks sloppy and almost like a token play call to keep the dynamic freshman involved. - GIVE RYAN HOUSTON THE BALL!!!! So frustrating to see him on the sidelines until about the 6 minute mark of the 2nd quarter. 3 carries for 16 yards, and he’s still running with authority. - There were a couple of plays late in the third quarter where the Carolina D only had 10 men on the field. While they stopped the Hoos on these plays, that is inexcusable and indicates the lack of preparation and focus the team had. - It hurt to watch UVA’s kicker get 20 yards more distance on his kicks than Casey Barth. Any students reading this that play soccer? All in all, it was another difficult day to be a Tar Heel. The past two weeks have been eerily reminiscent of some of the later days of the Bunting era. Luckily, Georgia Southern comes into town next week, so barring an even more epic collapse, we’ll at least get a win going into the bye week. Until the offense can move the ball on a worthy opponent, my confidence in this team getting back into the picture is shot.

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ACC Power Rankings, week 5 October 5, 2009 The ACC race is starting to take shape. It’s hard to picture preseason Atlantic favorite Florida State or my beloved North Carolina Tar Heels climbing out of 0-2 holes to reach the ACC Championship game. Even with impressive showings last week, it doesn’t seem viable that Virginia, Maryland, or Duke would reach Tampa either. Then again, it is the ACC, where parity has reigned supreme since the fall of the 90’s Seminoles. 1) Virginia Tech (4-1, 2-0 ACC, defeated Duke 34-26): Who knew Tyrod Taylor’s arm actually worked as well as his legs? A career-high 327 yards and 2 TD’s helped the Hokies overcome poor efforts from both the running game and the D. Good thing they were playing Duke. 2) Miami (3-1, 2-1 ACC, defeated Oklahoma 21-20): Probably the ACC’s most impressive win to date. Sure, the Sooners were playing without Sam Bradford, but Landry Jones is a good quarterback and Miami rattled him and forced Oklahoma to play with the underneath routes all game long. Javarris James had the best game of a career that was disappointing up to this point, going for 150 yards and clinching the game with a few first downs on the final drive. 3) Georgia Tech (4-1, 1-1 ACC, defeated Mississippi St. 42-31): Another example of a running QB going against the grain of his team’s normal gameplan: Josh Nesbitt, he of the sub-40% completion percentage, going 11-14 for 266 yards. He is emerging as a leader on this Jacket team that has been resurgent since looking awful against Miami two weeks ago. 4) Boston College (4-1, 2-1 ACC, defeated Florida St. 28-21): Do I believe the Eagles are the 4th most talented team in the league? No, but they always have a coach that gets the most out of his players. Frank Spaziani, the team’s 3rd head coach in 4 years, has the Eagles playing like a viable candidate for the Atlantic Division crown. 5) Wake Forest (3-2, 1-1 ACC, defeated N.C. State 30-24): Congratulations to Josh Bush, who ended Russell Wilson’s streak of 379 passes without an interception in the second quarter. Marshall Williams had another big day for the Deacs with two TD’s, but Chris Givens may have stolen the show with 8 catches for 113 yards and a score of his own. It seems like Riley Skinner is finding some weapons. 6) N.C. State (3-2, 0-1 ACC, lost to Wake Forest 30-24): Of the losers on Saturday, the Pack looked by far the most dangerous. 361 yards allowed through the air doesn’t bode well for their future, but the players seem to believe in each other and the coaching staff, and may now be the favorite in an Atlantic with an 0-2 FSU team. 7) Clemson (2-3, 1-2 ACC, lost to Maryland 24-21): Can’t say they didn’t have their chances. Within the last 7 minutes of the game, the Tigers were inside the Terps’ 35 3 times. Two missed 48-yard field goals and a lost Kyle Parker fumble cost them. The Tigers should have won this game. 8 ) Florida State (2-3, 0-2 ACC, lost to Boston College 28-21): Give them credit for overcoming a 21-3 deficit to tie the game, but downgrade them for again playing down to their competition and not pulling out the win. FSU’s blogger thinks its time for a change. 9) Virginia (1-3, 1-0 ACC, defeated North Carolina 16-3): They’re not great, but they could still find 4-5 more wins on their schedule. Losses to TCU and Southern Miss, quality non-BCS opponents, prepared the Cavs to knock off Carolina last Saturday. To quote Forrest Gump, that’s all I have to say about that.

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10) North Carolina (3-2, 0-2 ACC, lost to Virginia 16-3): The Tar Heels have picked up 328 yards of offense over the past two games, which would rank them 95th in the FBS if they could combine the results from the Tech and Virginia games. As it stands, the 113th ranked offense is doing nothing to help the nation’s 8th best defense. 11) Maryland (2-3, 1-0 ACC, defeated Clemson 24-21): Season saving win for Ralph Friedgen and the Terps, who overcame big plays by C.J. Spiller, a couple of tactical errors, I’m honestly baffled, after watching the 4th quarter of this one, as to how they won. 12) Duke (2-3, 0-1 ACC, lost to Virginia Tech 34-26): Tough luck for them, as they did not play like the worst team in the ACC on Saturday (that distinction would probably go to their neighbors 8 miles to the East). That being said, Virginia and Maryland won and I’d pick any of the rest of the teams in the league to beat them 9 times out of 10. A career day from Thaddeus Lewis wasn’t enough to overcome Virginia Tech, however.

Game Preview: Georgia Southern at UNC October 8, 2009 Well, it’s Wednesday and gameday is approaching rapidly. It’s hard to be too jazzed right now considering the last two outings, and the buzz around campus has gone from excitement to almost resentment. This is one of my major pet peeves with the University. When the wheels start to come off of the football machine, the boo birds and “why can’t it be basketball season” people come out of the woodworks. If any of the players are reading this, know one thing: We’re still behind you. We are and will be whether we finish the season 10-2 or 3-9. On to the game: the Heels should expect to win this, no questions asked. That being said, I don’t think we’ll be taking Georgia Southern lightly in the wake of the past two Saturdays. I expect the team to come out hungry and motivated to go into the bye week 4-2.

Stats and Trends - I touched on this in my power rankings earlier this week, but the Heels offense has gone for a pathetic 328 yards the past two weeks. Apparently the coaching staff is going to great lengths to simplify the offense, but it seems like all of the plays aren’t working. Which ones are we keeping??? - This clearly isn’t the problem, but it is interesting that starting with the ECU game, the Tar Heels’ best offensive performance to date, the carries for Ryan Houston have dwindled from 12 to 6 to 3. Not a good thing for a guy averaging 4.7 yards per carry to rot on the sidelines. - It’s been three games since Carolina’s D last made an interception. GSU is a little pass happy, I think we get a few. - I gave Johnny White a shoutout for his special teams play early in the season, but seeing that he has 10 tackles? Either he’s the next Wallace Wright, or we’re punting the ball too much. Players to Watch: UNC QB T.J. Yates: The junior QB has come under fire after the past two outings and while I blame the playcalling for his struggles, the execution has not been there for Carolina’s inept O. A few bad series early in the game, and I’ll be worried that his confidence is shot. I expect him to have a big game and lead the team to a good midseason rally that starts on Saturday.

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UNC DE Robert Quinn: Easy to put him on the list of players to watch, but the man could have a field day. GSU runs a no-huddle offense, meaning more opportunities for the sophomore to get to QB Lee Chapple. GSU has given up huge sack numbers this season. Ga. Southern’s 3-3-5 defense: Seems like the Heels can’t go two weeks in a row facing the same defensive look, and this should be a good test for the offense. Quite simply, we need to continue to find continuity in the running game, and FCS teams are the best way to do that. For Carolina to win: Show up, gain (hopefully) at least 400 yards of offense, maybe force a few turnovers for good measure. For Georgia Southern to win: I won’t be as cynical as I was when gauging The Citadel’s chances to win in the season opener, but I will say that EVERYTHING has to go right for the Eagles to win. No way the Heels let an FCS team walk in to Kenan Stadium and leave with a win. Fearless Prediction: Pain for the Eagles of Georgia Southern University. We finally get out of the streak of noon kickoffs (next possible one: Duke game in November) and, as Evander Holyfield says, its time for GSU to come out and get their whoopin’. Carolina 35, Georgia Southern 6. Around the ACC Overall: 30-15, Last week: 3-4. My predictions are rallying along with the Tar Heels. Take these to the bank. #5 Virginia Tech 27, Boston College 10: I’m still not a big believer in BC as a viable ACC Championship contender. They’ve been great at home but were terrible on their road trip. I think the Lane Stadium crowd throws them off their game and the Hokies cruise. Virginia 20, Indiana 13: Leave it to my Heels to wake up Al Groh’s boys. Not really a tough test for them this week, as they play Duke’s Big Ten equivalent. N.C. State 34, Duke 31 (OT): Russell Wilson vs. Thaddeus Lewis (who has the privilege of going against State’s suspect secondary). I wish I could watch this, because I expect to see some offensive fireworks. I think the overall strength of the Wolfpack team pulls it out for them. (Side note: watch for freshman RB James Washington to emerge for State, I think he’s their best option going forward.) Wake Forest 38, Maryland 27: Another game where I expect offense to be the key. Wake’s is really finding its groove and I would be shocked if Riley Skinner turned in an effort of less than 270 yards. #11 Miami 45, Florida A&M 7: My only question going into this game is do the Hurricanes overlook the Rattlers after their season-opening 4-game gauntlet? Even if they do, Miami still wins big. Florida State 31, #22 Georgia Tech 16: I think everyone outside of Tallahassee finds the “Good Noles, Bad Noles” routine hilarious, and it continues this week. No way this team doesn’t rally around beleaguered ball coach Bobby Bowden. FSU at home wins this one.

ACC Power Rankings, week 6 October 12, 2009

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** Postgame thoughts from the Ga. Southern game are upcoming, I’ve had a busy early part of the week. This weekend was one of the more exciting in recent memory for the ACC, as the defensedominated conference had a huge offensive outburst on October 10. 8 of the conference’s 11 teams playing scored over 40 points, and Boston College’s 14 points at Virginia Tech was the only total under 28 points. As it stands, these rankings are confusing and way too fluid, as Virginia, Duke, and Maryland have played their ways out of the cellar. Is it too late to take back my pick of Florida State as the Atlantic champ? Hopefully they don’t show up next Thursday night… 1) Virginia Tech (5-1, 3-0 ACC, defeated Boston College 48-14): I don’t know whether it’s BC’s offensive ineptitude or Virginia Tech’s defense waking up, but 163 total yards and 1 third-down conversion is impressive. Great offensive balance as well, as the Hokies were over 200 yards in both passing and rushing and got 3 different running backs at least 10 carries. 2) Miami (4-1, 2-1 ACC, defeated Florida A&M 48-16): Great job taking care of business against the first of 3 nonconference games against Florida schools on the season. Next up: Central Florida. 3) Georgia Tech (5-1, 3-1 ACC, defeated Florida State 49-44): They won, but my question is when do they start giving Anthony Allen more touches? The man is a living mismatch in space, and is averaging almost 12 yards per carry. 4 for 81 against the Noles. Wow. 4) Wake Forest (4-2, 2-1 ACC, defeated Maryland 42-32): I’m a big fan of Wake’s gold jerseys, and the offense doesn’t seem to mind them either. Riley Skinner: 360 yards in a week where that’s not terribly impressive for ACC QB’s. 5) Clemson (2-3, 1-2 ACC, BYE): From 5-12, every school I ranked is a complete wild card. 6) Virginia (2-3, 1-0 ACC, defeated Indiana 47-7): And, they’re back. The bye week really gave Al Groh a chance to step back and re-evaluate his team, and two wins by a combined score of 6310 shows that the ‘Hoos are alive and well. It’s all ACC games from here on out. 7) Boston College (4-2, 2-2 ACC, lost to Virginia Tech 48-14): When you turn on the TV and see a team trailing by 31 points 20 minutes into the game, it’s hard to have too much faith in a team. Couldn’t drop them any further than this though. 8 ) Duke (3-3, 1-1 ACC, defeated N.C. State 49-28): A month ago, I wondered aloud whether or not Duke would switch to QB Sean Renfree with an eye on the future. Thaddeus Lewis ended that debate on Saturday, making a few new entries in the Duke record book (40-50, 459 yards, 5TD). Are there 4 more wins on their schedule? 9) North Carolina (4-2, 0-2 ACC, defeated Georgia Southern 42-12): The defense spent a lot of the week working on forcing turnovers, and they got 7 against the overmatched Eagles. Bruce Carter, Quan Sturdivant, and the rest of the guys are going to have to keep scoring points, as the offense (which became more injury-riddled on Saturday) only produced 289 yards. Hopefully they can exorcise some demons in the 10 days before the next game. 10) Maryland (2-4, 1-1 ACC, lost to Wake Forest 42-32): I still haven’t figured the Terps out. I don’t think they’re a good team, but they’ve proven that they’re good enough to stay in games. I’m perplexed at their inability to get a running game going or stop anyone, and that will lead to no more than 3 more wins this season. 11) N.C. State (3-3, 0-2 ACC, lost to Duke 49-28): Well, Tom O’Brien won’t have any state championships to tout to recruits this year. Their secondary has been similar to a wet paper

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bag in the past 3 weeks, and a failure to fix that could lead to a very disappointing finish for the Wolfpack. They travel to Boston College this week in an attempt to stay above .500. 12) Florida State (2-4, 0-3 ACC, lost to Georgia Tech 49-44): The wheels have come off the Bobby Bowden machine. In a shootout loss against Georgia Tech, they gave up 8/10 3rd down conversions, 532 yards of offense, and 49 points. The good news is that the offense is moving the ball well, but this defense simply can’t stop anyone. The cure: North Carolina’s 115th-ranked offense next Thursday night in Chapel HIll. Whereas Carolina has a bye this weekend, I’ll do a couple of new things. After getting my postgame write-up out, I’ll focus on midseason reports and the ACC POY race. Stay tuned for some new things and GO HEELS!

Handicapping the ACC Player of the Year Race-Offense October 13, 2009 With Carolina’s regular season halfway over and a bye week, I thought I’d do some overview stuff to pass the time and keep my loyal readers happy. There are a lot of viable candidates for the ACC Offensive Player of the Year Award at this time, but nobody has emerged as the hands-down leader. Here’s my ballot if I were to turn one in today: 1) Jacory Harris, Miami (85-136, 1225 yards, 10 TD 7 Int): Has been the difference maker on the most successful team in the conference to date. Looming large for the sophomore is the incredibly impressive resume of wins, namely the Georgia Tech and Oklahoma games. New OC Mark Whipple is doing wonders for Harris. 2) Josh Nesbitt, Georgia Tech (37-73, 843 yards, 4 TD 2 Int; 128 carries, 503 yards 6 TD): You may be able to argue that no player in college football has done more for his team than Nesbitt, who has already run the ball 128 times in 5 games! The ball is in his hands on every play, and even when he doesn’t run it he gets hit as if he had. The man is a machine and has a chance to move to the top spot with a big game against Virginia Tech. 3) Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech (126 car, 734 yards, 9 TD, 143 rec yards): The freshman has been the most consistent player in the ACC. With an ACC-leading 734 yards to go with his 9 TD’s, he has come up big on big stages, picking up 71 yards on the ground along with big special teams plays against Alabama, and 150 yards against Miami. Makes you wonder if Hokies fans are saying, “Darren who?” 4) Riley Skinner, Wake Forest (132-190, 1684 yards, 15 TD 7 Int): Whereas Wake is the surprise leader in the Atlantic Division, and Skinner has thrown for at least 354 yards in each conference game, I fear I may be underselling him. Another big game at Clemson this week and he may become a frontrunner. 5) Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech (58-104, 995 yards, 8 TD 1 Int): The QB from the best team is always a safe bet to at least get a look for POY, and Taylor has been magnificent in managing the Hokies this year. With 8 TD’s compared to only 1 interception, he is proving that he is competent enough as a passer to lead the team to the promised land. Honorable mention/still in the race: Demaryius Thomas & Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech, Russell Wilson, N.C. State, Thaddeus Lewis, Duke. I’d put Christian Ponder in this mix as well for his ridiculous numbers, but the fact is that the

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‘Noles are 0-3 in conference and his chances of winning are minuscule at this point. Wish I could dig up some Tar Heels to put on this list.

Daily Tar Heel Editorial Calls on Fans October 15, 2009 And I couldn’t agree more. I know Rome wasn’t built in a day, and that the ACC may very well never be the SEC. The culture around college football in the South, as a whole, is akin to baseball in the Midwest, soccer in England, and cricket in the Middle East. It’s something that I hope that Tar Heels fans will eventually embrace with open arms. http://dailytarheel.com/content/unc-fans-should-be-more-active-during-our-games TO THE EDITOR I know it’s “just football,” but in the South, “just football” isn’t “just” anything. And if your blood runs Carolina blue like mine, I know you’ll understand what I’m about to say. I had the great pleasure this past weekend to attend the game against Georgia Southern, my alma mater. But as I said, my blood runs Carolina blue, like my daughter and son-in-law’s. As I sat taking in everything on a gray, threatening day at Kenan Stadium, I was dismayed and embarrassed that so many fans had stayed away. In Georgia, it doesn’t matter what the weather is. It doesn’t matter how crappy you’ve been playing. It doesn’t matter who you are playing. What matters is, the Dawgs are playing, and if you’re not there, then something is seriously wrong with you. UNC has one of the most beautiful venues for football anywhere. What a shame that we don’t get more excited. What a shame that we don’t get a little crazy, like we do when the Heels are in the Smith Center. There is something immeasurable that gets passed onto the field from the fans, and then gets returned to them, when you’re really in the game. We have the legacy. Let’s act like it. Amen. Ron Pelt Parent of UNC student

Around the ACC- October 17 October 15, 2009 Bye weeks are days for really getting to know the rest of the teams on your schedule, and catching some of the exciting games you wouldn’t normally catch. If my mom is reading this, she’ll certainly be angry that I’m not taking advantage of the bye week to get ahead on school work, but this is my job… Duty calls. Without further ado, predictions: Last week: 5-2, Overall 35-17. Clemson 28, Wake Forest 24: The saying goes, “good defense beats good offense”. While I’m tempted to ride Wake’s hot offense to another victory, I don’t see them doing it in Death Valley. Bad news for Clemson could be on the way though, is 2-3 in year one of the Dabo Swinney project not too early to hit the panic button? N.C. State 35, Boston College 24: I think the Wolfpack rights the ship after the Duke debacle,

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as BC doesn’t have the firepower that Duke has. (Did I just write that?) Apparently an angry Wolfpack fan called in to Tom O’Brien’s radio show on Monday to say, “Pack your bags, we don’t want you”. I bet the call screener for the show had the opportunity to do just that. Maryland 21, Virginia 16: Ugh. The two most unpredictable teams in the nation squaring off right here, folks. “But I thought Virginia had righted its ship?” False. They’re perpetually either over or underachieving. I give the advantage to Maryland since they’re at home, but would call it a tie if that were still a possibility in the college game. #19 Georgia Tech 34, #4 Virginia Tech 23: That’s right, I went there. VT’s rush defense has been suspect all year, and the Yellow Jackets can force Tyrod Taylor to throw if they can get up a couple of scores early. I think the Jackets are about to peak and create a three-way tie atop the Coastal. #9 Miami 49, UCF 13: The most talented team in the conference takes care of business on the road. Nothing to see here.

UNC Injury Report for FSU October 20, 2009 Out AJ Blue RB/QB Knee Carl Gaskins OT Knee Matt Merletti S Knee Trevor Stuart DS Knee Womble, Jamal TB Wrist Doubtful Lowell Dyer C Shoulder Ryan Taylor TE Knee Questionable Joshua Adams WR Shoulder Jonathan Cooper OG Ankle Zack Pianalto TE Foot Probable Anthony Elzy RB Shoulder Linwan Euwall LB Ankle Kyle Jolly OT Ankle Devon Ramsay FB Knee Cam Thomas DT Leg

Game Preview: Florida State at UNC October 21, 2009 Thursday night in Chapel Hill. It’s been known for rowdy romps on Franklin St. and the occasional

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night of cramming for Friday night tests. Never has it been known for college football. That changes tomorrow night, when the Florida State Seminoles come to Kenan for an 8 o’clock tilt with the Tar Heels. Carolina is rested and coming off an easy win against Georgia Southern, while the reeling Seminoles are 0-3 in the ACC and facing a serious controversy surrounding coach Bobby Bowden. Will the administration let him come back for another season, or has his carte blanche run out? These conference rivals haven’t played since 2004 due to expansion, and the Seminoles lead the all time series 12-1. The one glorious anomaly came in 2001 when Carolina beat #5 Florida St. 41-9 and signaled the beginning of the end of their dynasty. Here’s hoping they can finish the job on Thursday. Stats and Trends - The Noles’ 0-3 mark in the conference is already tied for the most ACC losses they’ve ever had. The preseason favorites in the Atlantic, the Noles have left that division without any team to carry the torch. You can’t say they’re completely out of it due to the mediocrity of the rest of their division. - This game is strength vs. strength, weakness vs. weakness. Carolina’s D is the best in the ACC and third in the nation in yards allowed at 254 yards per game, while Florida State has the most prolific passing offense in the league behind Christian Ponder. On the other side, Carolina’s 117th-ranked offense will face a porous Florida State defense that’s giving up 38 points per game in conference play. - Ponder has thrown only one interception this season after throwing 15 last year. If he can continue to avoid turning the ball over, the Seminoles will score enough to stay in every game. - Ty Jones and Jermaine Thomas, along with Ponder, have each carried the ball over 45 times this year. The fact that Ponder leads the team with 51 attempts demonstrates the inability for Florida State to establish a rhythm with either of their backs. - Carolina is on pace to set history this season. Whether famously or infamously, there hasn’t been a team in the past 30 years that has had a larger difference in their offensive and defensive rankings. With the offense at 117 and the defense at 3 (difference of 114 for the non-math majors), the Heels are a fascinating statistical anomaly. Injuries have derailed the offense, sure, but even a mediocre offense would keep this team in the Coastal Division race. - Quietly, Da’Norris Searcy is leading the ACC in punt returning. While nobody is going to confuse him for Brandon Tate, Searcy’s strong running and ability to find the hole are flipping the field position battle for Carolina. Players to watch The field position battle. Not exactly a player, but this is going to be a huge key. FSU has the ability to score on big plays, and a shorter field gives Ponder and K Dustin Hopkins the opportunity to put up fast points on unsustained drives. Carolina needs to keep the ball between the tackles and make the Noles pay for overpursuing. FSU CB/KR Greg Reid: One of the most electrifying young players I’ve seen in the country this year, Reid has scored on an interception return and made big plays on special teams. He also almost ended Miami’s season on Labor Day with his big hit on Jacory Harris. Carolina fans, be wary of #5 and his big play ability for FSU.

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Carolina RB Ryan Houston: The ‘Noles have shown an incredible inability to stop the run, and I think the best way to beat them is to go between the tackles and then play action and go vertical. You have to have the run first, and Houston is the best option to fall forward and keep the chains moving. Carolina TE Zack Pianalto: HE’S BACK!!! T.J. Yates’ safety valve was a big part of the offense before he went down, and he could provide a spark for the O. Fearless Prediction: This one is too close to call. Whoever plays beyond their previous performance between Carolina’s O and Florida State’s D proves to be the winner. Unfortunately, I think FSU has the horses to make adjustments more easily than the Heels. With a lump in my throat, I pick the Heels to lose for the first time this season, 34-24 Seminoles. I’ve been wrong before this season, however, and hopefully reverse mojo plays a role in the outcome. Whereas this is a Thursday nighter, I’ll get to the rest of the ACC later this week. GO HEELS!!!

Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory: UNC Blows It October 23, 2009 Everything was perfect. 71 degrees, not a cloud in the sky for kickoff. Every seat in the house was filled, and every fan was standing and loud. At halftime, the team got one of the most rousing ovations I’ve ever heard in Kenan Stadium. Scoring again to open the second half and opening up a three score lead made the atmosphere similar to that of a Final Four win of Franklin Street. With a chance to go up 31-13, all of that changed. T.J. Yates overthrew an ill-advised pass to two Carolina WR’s in the vicinity, and Florida State turned the goal line interception into a 98-yard Christian Ponder TD pass to Rod Owens. From there, Carolina could never get its footing on either side of the ball, and the Heels lost a Thursday night heartbreaker 30-27. Here’s what I saw: - Navy on navy: SICK The Heels made a fashion statement in front of the national crowd, and they looked good (a lot better during the 32 minutes in which we were dominating). Also looking good: Erin Andrews, even better in person than on TV. - Where have you gone, Erik Highsmith? The freshman wideout has just 3 catches for 16 yards over the past three games after posting back-to-back 100 yard games against East Carolina and Georgia Tech. Last night, a late 5-yard square in was his only touch. When the team throws for a total of 95 yards, you have to point at the quarterback AND the wide receivers. (As an aside, 31 of those 95 yards were on one pass… by FULLBACK Bobby Rome.) - There’s hope for the running game After abundant disappointing rushing performances against FBS teams, the Tar Heels came to life against a real opponent for the first time this season. Of Carolina’s 238 rushing yards, Shaun Draughn got 126 and three receivers combined for 109 yards on eight end-arounds. This play was a specialty of Hakeem Nicks and Brandon Tate last year. Greg Little’s strong running and Johnny White and Jheranie Boyd’s speed make this an effective weapon against aggressive teams. - FSU contained Carolina’s pass rush When Christian Ponder throws for 395 yards, this much should be obvious. But the Noles’ front

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line made Carolina’s touted front seven look average in pass protection. Ponder was only really hit on designed runs. He is tough, deadly accurate, and a pain for defenses. If FSU wasn’t 1-3, it would be a lot easier to say he was the league’s best QB. - 4th and 5, at the FSU 45, 4 1/2 minutes left, and you PUNT? I’ve been critical of Grant Shallock on this blog this season, and his inconsistency struck again. Netting 25 yards on a punt when down 3 points is just…baffling. That’s not even the biggest issue. The coaching staff needs to send a message to the offense: ‘no, you haven’t been great this year. But you’ve been moving the ball consistently all night and we’re on national TV. Get the first down and win us this game.’ Yes, we have a great defense and three timeouts to play with. Let’s use them if they stop that play. I’m not at a point yet where I can talk about that last possession. - We’re not quite there–yet I am a firm believer that the Butch Davis Administration is the answer in Chapel Hill. The chance to showcase your program on Thursday Night Football back-to-back weeks along with an upward trend in recruiting and, most importantly, wins, is something that only a coach of his stature can bring. Getting prominent alumni like Julius Peppers and Lawrence Taylor speaks volumes about their belief in the program and the pride that comes with being a Carolina grad. It may be next year, it may be 2011, but Carolina will be a nationally prominent team. I don’t have any doubts about that.

ACC Power Rankings, week 8 October 26, 2009 The race is starting to take shape. Georgia Tech is two relatively easy wins away from Tampa, and Clemson has re-taken the position as favorite in the Atlantic. 1) Georgia Tech (7-1, 5-1 ACC, defeated Virginia 34-9): The best team doing what the best team does: winning on the road, and doing it convincingly. Josh Nesbitt is my current Player of the Year. 2) Virginia Tech (5-2, 3-1 ACC, Idle): As of Thursday, will have had 12 days to lick their wounds from a loss at Georgia Tech. North Carolina is the victim. 3) Miami (5-2, 2-2 ACC, lost to Clemson 40-37 in OT): Throughout the game, I felt like Miami was lucky to still be in it. It’s a shame when the 10th-ranked team in the nation has a less-thanhalf full lower deck at home, but so goes it in Miami. The Canes face an uphill battle to get back in to the Coastal race at this point. 4) Clemson (4-3, 3-2 ACC, defeated Miami 40-37 in OT): Great performance by Kyle Parker, C.J. Spiller (is the Heisman hype legit?) and the rest of the Tigers. This is the type of game the team needed to take the next step. 5) Duke (4-3, 2-1 ACC, defeated Maryland 17-13): Hey, they can’t run, but David Cutcliffe is making Thaddeus Lewis look like those Manning brothers he used to coach. I wouldn’t mind seeing them win 3 more to reach a bowl, so long as one of those three doesn’t come in Chapel Hill. 6) Boston College (5-3, 3-2 ACC, lost to Notre Dame 20-16): I don’t want to put this loss squarely on the shoulders of Dave Shimskie, but the Eagles definitely should have won. Two late

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interceptions in Notre Dame territory cost the better team a win. 7) Wake Forest (4-4, 2-2 ACC, lost to Navy 13-10): Ugh. Navy doesn’t attempt a pass and beats the team that led the Atlantic a week ago. 8 ) Virginia (3-4, 2-1 ACC, lost to Georgia Tech 34-9): In a sloppy contest, the Wahoos had their chances early. As Doc Walker said in the second half, though, “Tech’s offense is like a python. If they get an advantage on you, they’ll squeeze the life out.” That’s exactly what happened in the 4th quarter, when Tech made the score more lopsided than the rest of the game would indicate. 9) Florida State (3-4, 1-3 ACC, defeated North Carolina 30-27): A great second half in the North Carolina game may be the catalyst the Noles needed for a second-half turnaround. I think they come out with a convincing win against N.C. State this week. 10) North Carolina (4-3, 0-3 ACC, lost to Florida State 30-27): Stubborn, stubborn coaching (read: the inability to adjust) cost Carolina an 18-point lead and possibly a bowl bid. Blind faith on my part keeps the Heels out of the cellar. 11) N.C. State (3-4, 0-3 ACC, Idle): I’d be worried about how many yards Christian Ponder is going to throw for this week if I were a Wolfpack fan. Maybe a bye allowed Tom O’Brien to sit down with his coaches and adapt to his personnel. 12) Maryland (2-6, 1-3 ACC, lost to Duke 17-13): I think any team in the ACC beats these guys 7 times out of 10. Clemson win proves to be more and more of a fluke rather than something on which to build.

Injury Report for VT Game October 27, 2009 I’ll have a game preview up later this evening, but in the meantime look at how these are piling up. This should really help put the rough past few weeks into perspective. UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA WEEKLY FOOTBALL INJURY REPORT vs. Virginia Tech, October 29, 2009 Out AJ Blue TB/QB Knee Carl Gaskins OT Knee Matt Merletti S Knee Trevor Stuart DS Knee Jamal Womble TB Wrist Doubtful Jordan Hemby DB Concussion Ryan Taylor TE Knee Questionable Joshua Adams WR Shoulder Cam Holland C Shoulder Probable

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Jonathan Cooper OG Ankle Lowell Dyer C Shoulder Linwan Euwall LB Ankle Kyle Jolly OT Ankle Zack Pianalto TE Concussion Devon Ramsay RB Knee E.J. Wilson DE Thigh

Preview: UNC at #14 Virginia Tech October 27, 2009 It’s time to measure this team’s toughness. At the beginning of the season, this game was one that could be a program definer. Slow the run, get an early lead, and make Tyrod Taylor beat you through the air. It all seemed so simple until the unraveling of the offense throughout ACC play and the defense’s implosion in the 2nd half against Florida State last Thursday night. Vegas has the line at VT -16.5, further underscoring the lack of faith people have in Carolina’s mental fortitude. Virginia Tech fans I’ve talked to since last weekend seem to think this game will be closer than the spread indicates, and I tend to agree. One went so far as to say, “I think we win, but a couple breaks for y’all and you walk out of there with the win.” The Hokies’ defense isn’t as stout as usual, and Carolina is not as bad as their 0-3 ACC record would say. I’ll be in Blacksburg for better or for worse, and I couldn’t be more excited than to see ‘Enter Sandman’ and an upset on a Thursday night. Stats and Trends - Tyrod Taylor threw two interceptions in their 28-23 loss at Georgia Tech, tripling his total for the season. If there’s something the Tar Heels can exploit, it will be to get on top early and force the junior to throw the ball. - Don’t think stopping Ryan Williams is the key to stopping the Tech running game. Behind him, they can throw in Josh Oglesby (who John Bunting refused to offer although he was proclaimed a lifelong Tar Heel) and David Wilson. Both have averaged over 5 yards per carry on over 30 attempts. - Greg Little leads the team with 33 receptions, but he is only going for 8.8 yards a clip. The problem is that Yates’ passes are leading him into traffic. They need to run him away from the defense and get him 1-on-1, where he is an incredible open field runner. - Florida State’s 395 passing yards account for over 230 more than Carolina had been giving up per game this season. The defense needs to settle down and get back to where they were. - Last year, Carolina led 17-3 before T.J. Yates broke his ankle, Mike Paulus threw two ill-advised interceptions, and Ron Cherry made a few…shall we say, questionable calls in Virginia Tech’s favor. On paper, these two teams are similar to the ones that played last year. Could we be overlooking a possible upset? Players to Watch - Tech TE Greg Boone: After missing the first 3 games of the season, Boone’s senior campaign

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has gotten off to a slow start. I think he is a key safety valve for Tyrod Taylor, and will convert at least one tough third down on Thursday. - Tech DE Jason Worilds: If he stays in Yates’ face all game, it will be a looooong night. - Carolina LB Bruce Carter: I expect him to play ’spy’ on Taylor a good bit during the game, and his effectiveness will go a long way into determining the outcome. For Carolina to win A lot of things have to go right. First of all, the offense has to regain its confidence somehow. Secondly, they can’t afford to give VT extra possessions by way of turnovers, penalties, or special teams miscues. Third, they need to come out and prove they still want to win something in 2009. If these things happen, the Tar Heels have more than a fighting chance. For Virginia Tech to win The Thursday night Lane Stadium crowd will be awesome. I expect a lot of noise to rattle the UNC offense, and any early momentum the Hokies pick up will create a snowball effect. With Ryan Williams running effectively, the Hokies will win this one. Also, I don’t like that the Hokies have had a bye week to prepare, and are coming off of a devastating loss to Georgia Tech. Fearless Prediction I can see the Heels keeping it close for awhile, but eventually special teams or turnovers will do them in. Beamerball 26, Carolina 16. Around the ACC 39-19 overall, 1-0 last week I never did make it back to give my ACC predictions in the wake of last week’s heartbreaker, and I refuse to make that mistake again. Unfortunately, there are no games that have huge Tampa implications, just games where teams need to hold serve. Florida State 45, N.C. State 31: Consider this a ‘post-traumatic-overselling-your-opponent’ pick. For some reason, I have zero doubt Florida State wins, which of course means I should pick the Wolfpack. Clemson 55, Coastal Carolina 6: Wake me up when this one’s over. Putting the over-under on C.J. Spiller 50-plus yard plays at 2.5. …in the first half. UPSET Wake Forest 31, Miami 21: I think this one will be closer than most think, and I get a gut feeling that the Deacs pull it out against a Miami team on an emotional low following their loss to Clemson. This would pretty much clinch the Coastal for Georgia Tech. Boston College 33, Central Michigan 17: Let’s not get it twisted, Central is a good team with a record of 6-1. They won at Michigan State earlier in the season, and their defense is only giving up 15 points a game. I still don’t think BC loses this one. Duke 20, Virginia 13: The apocalypse strikes when this one goes final. #11 Georgia Tech 41, Vanderbilt 17: Why Georgia Tech goes on the road to play these bad SEC teams is beyond me. Chalk up another meaningless ACC win in the conference pride sweepstakes.

A Team Win: UNC wins at Virginia Tech October 30, 2009

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How about them Heels? Winning in Blacksburg, VA is no small task. Doing it against a team picked almost unanimously to win the ACC in the preseason isn’t, either. And to do it on a Thursday night with a team reeling from three straight ACC losses? Come on. Well, the 16.5point underdog North Carolina Tar Heels put together a total effort last night against the Hokies and won a 20-17 decision on a Casey Barth field goal. Offense gets healthy, plays keepaway I can’t state enough how big it was for this team to have their whole starting offensive line back for the first time since the season opener. Preseason Rimington Trophy nominee Lowell Dyer came in and capably replaced an injured Cam Holland after a long 2nd quarter run, and the Heels didn’t miss a beat. With strong play from LG Jonathan Cooper and the return of TE Zack Pianalto (6 receptions, 34 yards) provided T.J. Yates the safety valve he didn’t have during the losing stretch. After Virginia Tech scored to go up 17-14, Carolina went on a 16 play, 78 yard drive to tie the game. In the process, they took 9 minutes off the clock. Overall, the Heels held the ball for 11 minutes, 45 seconds of the 4th quarter. When he needed it, Yates had all night to throw. Special teams comes to play With the offense struggling to move the ball in the first quarter, P Grant Shallock was forced to punt from deep in his territory three times. Each time, he got the ball out and let his gunners make plays. On the one missed coverage by the punting unit, Shallock laid a hit Deunta Williams would be proud of, saving a touchdown and lighting up Jayron Hosley on the sidelines. Casey Barth’s field goals were obviously a major coup for the Heels, as his game-winner was eerily similar to another game-winner by a kicker named Barth almost 5 years to the day ago. In 2004, Connor Barth’s 42-yarder capped off Carolina’s win against #5 Miami in Kenan Stadium. This was a turning point in Connor’s career, and maybe the same can happen for the younger Barth. Greg Little: the team’s best weapon His versatility is spectacular, and his much-maligned hands have become incredibly reliable. Along with his big 4th down catch on the tying drive, Little motioned into the backfield and picked up great yardage (38 yards on 6 carries) on the ground. The converted running back would motion into an ‘ace’ formation after RB Shaun Draughn (who had a nice game himself) motioned wide. The new wrinkle got Tech’s defense off balance and opened up the field for the Tar Heels. But, Jheranie Boyd is the team’s weapon of the future He’s been the only deep threat for the Heels this season, but Boyd showed some toughness in last night’s game. He converted a key third down on the game-winning drive by putting his head down and getting past the markers. His TD catch in the second quarter with Rashad Carmichael’s hand vice-gripping his jersey was big time. The coaches are getting more and more comfortable with him in the game, his blocking is solid, and I expect him to reel off a big 4 games to close the season. Change on defense I thought it was due to injury last week, but it appears that Kevin Reddick has taken Zach Brown’s starting spot at linebacker. The Heels played the game with Reddick in the middle and alleverything LB Quan Sturdivant on the weak side, where he led the nation in solo tackles in 2008.

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Reddick played a terrific game (with the exception of getting run over by Tyrod Taylor at the goal line in the 4th quarter). The freshman has probably entrenched himself as the starter until he moves to the next level. Worth noting is that Quinton Coples started at DE over E.J. Wilson. However, after Tech ran a counter right on the first play and Coples got shut in by the tight end for a 25-yard Ryan Williams gain, Wilson got back in there quickly. In other DE news, freshman Donte Paige-Moss recorded his first career sack lining up opposite Robert Quinn as a pass-rush specialist. He is simply too talented to be kept off the field, and a two-deep of Quinn, Paige-Moss, Coples, and Michael McAdoo bodes well for the future. Looking ahead At 5-3, the Heels’ bowl chances improved exponentially with the win in Blacksburg. Getting two more against Duke, Miami, Boston College, and N.C. State is doable…perhaps even probable. I say this because this team showed heart and a will to win unlike any I’ve ever seen from them this season. Offense, defense, and special teams were united. The D picked up the offense as it struggled in the first quarter. Carolina came right down the field and answered all of Tech’s scoring drives. It was awesome to see this team gel and possibly be able to make a run to make 2009 a success.

ACC Power Rankings, week 10 November 1, 2009 1) Georgia Tech (8-1, 5-1 ACC, defeated Vanderbilt 56-31): What do we take from this game? That Tech can score, even against SEC teams on the road, or that their defense giving up 31 points in a game vs. a 2-7 team is in trouble? Either way, they’re still the best the league has to offer. 2) Miami (6-2, 3-2 ACC, defeated Wake Forest 28-27): It’s been awhile since we’ve seen a Miami team this resilient. I thought they were dead in the water down 17-0. 3) Clemson (5-3, 3-2 ACC, defeated Coastal Carolina 49-3): Not much to see here other than the likely end to C.J. Spiller’s Heisman hopes. It was fun while it lasted. 4) Virginia Tech (5-3, 3-2 ACC, lost to North Carolina 20-17): Two straight losses are ample cause for outcry in Blacksburg. The Tech defense simply isn’t where it has been in previous years. 5) Boston College (6-3, 3-2 ACC, defeated Central Michigan 31-10): Other than failures to show up against Clemson and Virginia Tech, the Eagles are the most consistent team in the ACC. A Clemson loss puts them in the drivers’ seat in the Atlantic. 6) Duke (5-3, 3-1 ACC, defeated Virginia 28-17): The winner of their game at rival North Carolina goes bowling. The loser faces an uphill battle to get there. Thaddeus Lewis has to be first-team all ACC, and he will bring the heat to Carolina’s suspect secondary. 7) Florida State (4-4, 2-3 ACC, defeated N.C. State 45-42): The Noles would be at home in the Pac-10 this year. Their abject refusal to play defense is strange, but they can continue to simply outscore opponents and be OK. 8 ) North Carolina (5-3, 1-3 ACC, defeated Virginia Tech 20-17): With a pretty complete performance, the Heels showed that they’re capable of beating anyone, anywhere. If only they could avoid playing down to their competition. They need their momentum to carry over for

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another week to beat a hot Duke team. 9) Wake Forest (4-5, 2-3 ACC, lost to Miami 28-27): Should have won. The Deacs are reeling and I don’t know if they’ll recover in time to gain bowl eligibility (must win 2 of 3 vs. Georgia Tech, Florida State, and Duke). 10) Virginia (3-5, 2-2 ACC, lost to Duke 28-17): They were lucky to be as close as they were against Duke, a pretty ho-hum performance on both sides of the ball for the ‘Hoos. They do get Miami this week. Last time they were there, they closed the Orange Bowl with a 48-0 win. They won’t get that on Saturday, but maybe they’ll show up. 11) N.C. State (3-5, 0-4 ACC, lost to Florida State 45-42): I wish I had the tape of the Pittsburgh game so I could go back and say, “Now how did they pull that one off?” Their defense is the most physically inept in the ACC this year, by far. 12) Maryland (2-6, 1-3 ACC, Idle): Simple rationale for putting them here: If they were to play each team in the ACC 10 times, would they come out with a winning record? The answer is no, as I expect N.C. State to beat them this week.

Game Preview: Duke at North Carolina November 6, 2009 I’ll be perfectly honest. I can’t find it in my heart to hate Duke’s football team. I save my hate in football for the team that represents that big pile of bricks in West Raleigh (disclaimer: the State game preview could be ugly). For some reason, David Cutcliffe doesn’t come off nearly as unlikeable as Mike Krzyzewski. It also doesn’t hurt that the Devils haven’t been to a bowl game in 15 years, have beaten Carolina once in the past 19 games, and play in a stadium that a lot of high schools in Texas put to shame. With a quick glance at the schedule prior to the season, most North Carolina fans were counting November 7 a win without much thought. Even more fans wrote it off in September, when Duke opened their season with a loss to FCS opponent Richmond. Here we are, in November, and for the first time since 1994, the Duke game means something other than a record-padding at the end of Carolina’s season. Both teams enter the game 5-3 and desperate for a win to improve their respective bowl resumes. The series has been one-sided in recent memory, with Carolina winning 18 of the last 19. The last 3 games (all Carolina wins), however, haven’t been decided until the final minutes. I expect Saturday’s game to be similar. If the Devils can pull it off, I can imagine starting to hate Duke football as much as their flopping basketball counterparts. Stats and Trends - Watch the ‘Killer V’s’ when Duke has the ball. Donovan Varner (660 yards) and Conner Vernon (562) are 2nd and 6th, respectively, in receiving. Interestingly enough, these two underclassmen played high school ball together, too. - Speaking of Duke’s passing game, Thaddeus Lewis has thrown for 383 yards per game in ACC play. Read that again. Lewis has thrown for more yards PER GAME than T.J. Yates has thrown for in the last three games combined. - Carolina has stepped up their game on offense, too. The past two weeks, they have picked up over 500 yards on the ground with creative playcalling that gets the ball into the hands of Greg

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Little and Jheranie Boyd, as well as the running backs. - I touched on this in my Virginia Tech postgame, but Casey Barth’s game-winner came 4 years and 364 days after his brother, Connor, kicked a game-winner in a home win against #5 Miami his sophomore year. - Speaking of special teams, check out this hit by Grant Shallock. In case you missed it, the punter de-cleated punt returner Jayron Hosley and Butch Davis. Players to Watch - Duke RB Darrell Scott: The Durham, N.C. freshman has taken over as Duke’s featured back, and if the Blue Devils can get anything on the ground they’ll be that much tougher to stop. - Carolina CB Charles Brown: Brown has been picked on each of the last two weeks, and it would shock me not to see the Heels roll coverage more to his side this week. He needs to step his game up to prevent Duke from shredding the secondary. - Duke’s offensive line and Carolina’s front four: Whoever wins this battle likely wins the game. If Lewis has time to throw, it may be real tough for the Heels to win. For Carolina to win - The Heels need to get the ball down field in the passing game. Hopefully, Duke’s weak secondary will be exploitable for Greg Little, Erik Highsmith, and the rest of the Heels’ receivers. Also, the front four MUST get pressure on Thaddeus Lewis or he’ll tear the vaunted Carolina D apart. For Duke to win - Force a couple of turnovers, let Lewis do his thing, and don’t settle for field goals when they get in the red zone. The Dukies will move the ball, no question about it. If they score TD’s, it could be a long day for the Heels. Fearless Prediction I’m cautiously optimistic going into this game. I think the Heels will continue their offensive renaissance, and the Blue Devils will move the ball but not punch it in enough. Carolina 27, Duke 19 Around the ACC Last week: 5-2, overall 44-21 #16 Miami 38, Virginia 9: Given the results of the Wahoos’ last trip to South Beach, I think Miami swaggers all over them this year. N.C. State 35, Maryland 24: There’s no way to feel comfortable calling this game either way, but I’ll give State the benefit with home field advantage. #10 Georgia Tech 45, Wake Forest 19: Riley Skinner is questionable with a concussion, but I don’t think it matters either way. The Wreck rambles on to the ACC Championship Game. Florida State 34, Clemson 21: Any Clemson fan should know by now that they’ve been set up for failure. Controlling their own destiny is too much pressure for the Tigers. Also, I think the ‘Noles play inspired given the announcement of Mickey Andrews’ retirement.

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Draughn Out For Season November 8, 2009 Well, the offense just isn’t going to stay healthy this year. Here’s the email I just got from Sports Information: University of North Carolina tailback Shaun Draughn fractured his left shoulder blade (scapula) on the first play from scrimmage in Carolina’s 19-6 victory over Duke Saturday afternoon and will miss the remainder of the season. A native of Tarboro, N.C., Draughn started all nine games this season and is Carolina’s leading rusher with 567 yards on 124 carries. He ranks seventh in the league with 63.0 yards per game. Ryan Houston had a great game yesterday, but having Draughn as a big play threat was a key to the offense. Duke postgame thoughts coming up later tonight!

Thaddeus who? Duke postgame thoughts. November 8, 2009 19 out of 20. That, folks, is domination. I was shocked to look up at the scoreboard at the end of the third quarter and see that the Heels were only up 9-6. Considering that Duke scored their only points off a blocked punt and an interception, its amazing that they managed the 125 yards of offense that they did. - The SEC refs are getting too much credit for being terrible. The crew yesterday made bad calls on both sides, but two of Carolina’s 3 personal foul penalties were pathetic calls. Shane Mularkey rode Duke’s kick returner out of bounds and got flagged for 15 for it. I always thought Ron Cherry and crew were rough, but this group made them look like saints. - Robert Quinn came back in a big way. 3 sacks, 4.5 tackles for loss. Best player in the league. - The more I see Kevin Reddick, the more I like him. He seems to be incredibly instinctive and has the body of a junior, not a true freshman. Starting him over Zach “the big track star” Brown looks better and better every week. - Nice kicking, Casey Barth. - While I hate seeing Shaun Draughn go out like he did (check my last post- out for the season), Ryan Houston showed that he can wear a defense plum out when given the chance. With the help of the offensive line, Houston went for more yards than Duke’s whole offense (for comparison’s sake: Thaddeus Lewis, who led Duke in rushing, had 7 yards). - Bad call thinking the ‘Killer V’s’ of Varner and Vernon would do big things against our secondary. 5 receptions and a pair of non-factors was all I saw from the ballyhooed duo. - In coming weeks, Carolina’s kick return defense has to improve. I don’t know if it was Casey Barth’s low kicks or the coverage team not maintaining gap control, but Duke had a lot of room to return kicks. - 6-3 and one win from bowl eligibility is a nice place to be. With Miami coming up next, the Tar Heels need to extend the winning streak to 3.

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Two Tar Heels named ACC Player of Week November 9, 2009 Robert Quinn and Casey Barth were named ACC D-Lineman and Specialist of the week, respectively. Quinn dominated the Duke game with 3 sacks, 4.5 tackles for loss, and a couple more sacks that he missed out on due to holding. With 10 sacks on the season, Quinn has become the most celebrated player on a defense with a lot of future NFL players. Barth turned in one of the best performances of his UNC career on Saturday. He was 4/4 on field goals and made his only extra point attempt. After a rough start to the season, I have a golf theory on Barth. He’s got a Zach Johnson-esque short game, and knows how to finesse shots (in this case kicks) in. However, if it becomes a long drive contest, he won’t hold a candle to Tiger Woods. Consistency from 40 in is going to be a huge factor in Carolina’s next three games. Here’s to big #42 and #11 on these honors, hope to see more after we beat “Da U” next Saturday!

ACC Power rankings, week 11 November 10, 2009 With the race to the Championship Game and the push for bowl eligibility coming to a head, I thought to myself, “these rankings have really stagnated and only reflected a week-toweek difference.” With this in mind, I’m producing a re-thought set of rankings, taking into consideration the full body of work rather than arbitrarily adjusting for wins and losses on the previous Saturday (take note, AP voters). 1) Georgia Tech (9-1, 6-1 ACC): The Jackets have put together easily the most impressive ACC resume, with wins over Clemson, Virginia Tech, and North Carolina. They have also beaten two SEC doormats on the road, and have been the most consistent team in the league. ACC fans should cheer for them to win out and represent well in the Orange Bowl. 2) Clemson (6-3, 4-2 ACC): Take note. Clemson won a game with pressure on last week against Florida State. They have two of the worst teams in the ACC (N.C. State and Virginia) left, so again ACC fans should hope that they can close out (and that C.J. Spiller keeps boosting his Heisman resume). Their three losses have come by a total of 10 points, with only the Maryland one being inexplicable. The way they fought back at Georgia Tech early in the season was admirable, and they proved head-to-head that they were worthy of jumping Miami. 3) Miami (7-2, 4-2 ACC): With the 52-17 shellacking of Virginia, the Canes may have gotten back to September form, where they beat Florida State, Georgia Tech, and Oklahoma. Their renaissance was questionable two weeks ago after escaping Wake Forest, but a big win against UNC this week puts them on track for a 10-win season. This would be huge for this young team going forward. 4) Virginia Tech (6-3, 3-2 ACC): The league’s torch-bearer has been its biggest disappointment on the national stage. The Hokies’ defense hasn’t been up to its usual ridiculous standards this year, but three very winnable games (plus a bowl) stand between them and a 10-win season. 5) North Carolina (6-3, 2-3 ACC): An escape at UConn would probably be traded for either bizarre home loss the Heels have suffered, be it the inexplicable (Virginia) or the collapse (Florida State). Either way, the defense is incredible and the Heels could win out and ride serious momentum into 2010.

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6) Wake Forest (4-6, 2-4 ACC): Call me crazy, but the Deacons have been right there all season. Excluding the 38-3 whooping at the hands of Clemson (#2 for a reason), Wake has lost 5 games by a combined 13 points. It’s a shame they likely won’t go bowling, but this team has been the hard luck story of the ACC this year and will come back retooled next year. 7) Boston College (6-3, 3-2 ACC): For some reason, I’m not yet an Eagle believer. Sure, they’ve taken care of business when they had to, but when they’ve played top 25-worthy opposition (and I’m not calling Notre Dame that), they have laid eggs against Clemson and VT. Chewing up on inferior opponents will get them to 8 wins on the season though, which has to be considered a success given their offseason turmoil. 8 ) Duke (5-4, 3-2 ACC): With bowl hopes in flux after losing to rival North Carolina (who gave the rest of the Dookies’ opponents a perfect blueprint on how to slow them down), the Devils take on Georgia Tech. Amazingly, they still have a chance of reaching Tampa. With GT, Miami, and Wake on deck though, I see 5-7 with 6-6 as the best case scenario. They feasted on the bottom three like most everyone else, though. 9) Florida State (4-5, 2-4 ACC): I hate seeing Christian Ponder go out, as he was my favorite QB to watch in the ACC (that said, go pro. I don’t want to see you when the Heels go to Tallahassee next year). Maybe the Noles can win two more games to reach a bowl with Maryland a lock, Wake a toss-up, and Florida a prair, but I think things are about to get ugly this offseason. 10) N.C. State (4-5, 1-4 ACC): Remember after week 3 when their defense was ranked #1 in the country? Yeah, me neither. The Pack has been my biggest disappointment this season, as I honestly thought they’d contend for the Atlantic. Can you believe they beat Pitt? With Clemson, VT, and UNC left on the schedule, I find it hard to claim they’ll be bowling this year. 11) Virginia (3-6, 2-3 ACC): The Wahoos have one calling card win against Carolina, but other than that have been predictable (why do you torment us, Al Groh?) in losing and losing alot. Winning at least 1 of 3 (vs. BC, Clemson, and VT) is critical to Groh staying on for another year. 12) Maryland (2-7, 1-4): Hey, they beat Clemson. Seeing as they are already locked in to a coach of the future (and their results have been pretty bad up to this point), I could see Byrd Stadium becoming a prime destination for ACC teams in need of road wins in upcoming years.

Injury Report-Miami Game November 12, 2009 UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA WEEKLY FOOTBALL INJURY REPORT Miami, November 14, 2009 Out Joshua Adams WR Shoulder AJ Blue RB/QB Knee David Collins OT Foot Carl Gaskins OT Knee Matt Merletti S Knee Trevor Stuart DS Knee Ryan Taylor TE Knee

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Jamal Womble TB Wrist Questionable Brennan Williams OT Wrist Probable Cam Holland C Shoulder

Game Preview: #12 Miami at UNC November 13, 2009 Reading the message boards, you’d think Miami was playing UNC-Asheville. Although they are o-3 in Chapel Hill and 0-2 against Butch Davis, they think they walk all over the Heels. I’m here to warn you, Miami fans: It ain’t gonna be that easy. Players to watch Miami HB Graig Cooper: This guy has to get it going tomorrow for the Canes to be able to stretch the field with LaRon Byrd, Leonard Hankerson, and Travis Benjamin. The Heels are giving up less than 2 yards per rush, but 75-80 yards from Cooper would keep the dogs off of Jacory Harris. Carolina S Deunta Williams: Playing center field against Harris’ deep ball is key, as you’ll see a lot of post and corner routes. If Williams can make a couple of plays over the top, Carolina will be in good shape. Carolina HB Ryan Houston: He had 37 carries last week. Look for him to tote it 25-30 times again this week. I hope fatigue doesn’t become a factor, as the big back has a chance to wear down the Canes’ defens otherwise. For Carolina to win Get after Harris (Miami is 11th in the ACC in sacks allowed/game). On offense, the Heels need to connect on a couple of deep balls and confuse Miami’s undisciplined LB’s. For Miami to win Stop Ryan Houston on first down and force the Heels to throw from “& long” situations. Miami DC John Lovett proved in his Carolina days and early this year that he likes to blitz mostly on second down, while running a soft zone on 3rd and long. If he gets the chance to blitz, it could be a long day for T.J. Yates. They should also exploit Casey Barth’s low kickoffs and get some yardage on kick returns. Fearless Prediction Last week: 4-1 Overall: 48-22 This is just one of those Carolina weekends. It’s been raining all week due to Hurricane Ida, but is starting to clear up. The top basketball recruit in the country, Harrison Barnes, just committed here. We’re carrying the momentum of two big division wins. I think the good vibes continue. Carolina 30, Miami 13. (Ambitious, but a gut feeling). Around the ACC Florida State 31, Wake Forest 27: I have faith in E.J. Manuel to keep the Noles’ bowl chances alive, even on the road.

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#24 Clemson 45, N.C. State 24: Jinx alert: This may be the year the for the Tigers. Their speed is going to ABUSE State’s beleagured defense. #7 Georgia Tech 41, Duke 10: Carolina tore apart the Blue Devils’ will (and gave them a few bumps and bruises) last week. I think Georgia Tech takes the Coastal running away. #21 Virginia Tech 27, Maryland 24: I’m starting to get concerned about picking all these road teams this week. VT wins closer than expected. Virginia 30, Boston College 21: “One more year! One more year!” I’d laugh at the Cavs, but Al Groh owns us.

UNC 33, Miami 24 November 16, 2009 And yes, I apologize for taking a couple of days to get around to it. - Robert Quinn vs. Jason Fox was fascinating to watch in the trenches. While neither player really dominated the other, Quinn got Fox called for holding once and made an impact in collapsing Jacory Harris’ pocket on two of the four interceptions by Carolina’s defense. - Kendric Burney cemented his legacy as Carolina’s best CB of the 21st century on Saturday. His 3 picks and ACC-record 170 interception return yards were the obvious difference in the game. Miami’s passing attack was able to bend Carolina’s defense for most of the day, but they never broke. Oh, and how about those returns? Those were some incredible moves Burney used to get that yardage. - A complaint about those interceptions: Learn how to block, Marvin Austin. That’s two weeks in a row where motioning our guy down the field (last week on Charles Brown’s long return) where you have been too busy celebrating and not laying the final block for a TD. - With the experience our young O-Linemen have been getting, I expect this to be a strength of our team next year. 6 guys: Jonathan Cooper, Cam Holland, Mike Ingersoll, Alan Pelc, Brennan Williams, and Travis Bond. along with some highly touted newcomers, give this unit the opportunity to be dominant. - I was wrong, Casey Barth, and I am sorry. You’re a pretty doggone good kicker. - Very interesting to see Mywan Jackson make a catch. Carolina fans have been led to believe that the speedy freshman was destined to become a cornerback. Oh well, make that 4 true freshmen who have contributed this year at WR. - I’m really proud of what LB Kennedy Tinsley has been able to do this year after being suspended for all of 2008. He has earned significant snaps behind Kevin Reddick and has shown leadership and effort all season long. 31 tackles isn’t a bad stat line for a backup either.

Power Rankings, week 12 (and Going Bowling!) November 17, 2009 We officially have at least one Tampa-bound team. Georgia Tech, at 10-1 overall, has earned their spot in the ACC Championship Game, but now faces the difficult task of proving their worth against Georgia and the Atlantic’s representative (either Clemson or Boston College). As the torch-bearer for 2009’s ACC, we need them to do that.

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1) Georgia Tech (10-1, 7-1 ACC): With an opportunity to clinch the division, the Yellow Jackets took no prisoners at Duke. Another big day for Jonathan Dwyer and big plays from Demaryius Thomas, both par for the course for the Jackets, won it. 2) Clemson (7-3, 5-2 ACC): They blew it at Maryland, no way they do the same thing at home against Virginia, right? I don’t think so. Georgia Tech/Clemson was a great game early in the ACC season, and a rematch with a BCS bowl bid and C.J. Spiller’s Heisman hopes on the line would be incredible. 3) North Carolina (7-3, 3-3 ACC): Back from the dead, Carolina’s offense has done enough to keep the nation’s 8th-ranked defense afloat. I have them this high because they beat the next two teams head-to-head recently. 4) Virginia Tech (7-3, 4-2 ACC): Ho-hum for the Hokies in a win at Maryland. Would it be too much to ask for N.C. State or Virginia to knock them off? 5) Miami (7-3, 4-3 ACC): While the ‘U’ isn’t completely back, they have shown flashes of brilliance this year. I’ve been disappointed in Jacory Harris’ propensity to throw interceptions. They’ve been bitten by the injury bug on defense as well. 6) Boston College (7-3, 4-2 ACC): Undefeated at home, winless on the road. I hope the former changes on Saturday. ———— This is where the league transitions from good to bad.—————7) Duke (5-5, 3-3 ACC): Heck, let’s give the Dookies something to cheer about. I hope they win two more to get bowl eligible, because there’s nothing quite as entertaining (albeit insufferable) as a chest-thumping Duke fan. 8 ) Florida State (5-5, 3-4 ACC): E.J. Manuel looked legit, and the Noles took a must-win game on the road. I think they beat Maryland and go bowling. 9) Wake Forest (4-7, 2-5 ACC): Tough break, Deacs. Better luck next year. I do like the new home gold jerseys. ———– This is where the league transitions from bad to ugly.—————10) N.C. State (4-6, 1-5 ACC): I wouldn’t mind seeing them beat Virginia Tech, but that’d better be their last win. PackPride.com’s message boards are hilarious right now, if you need a laugh. 11) Virginia (3-7, 2-4 ACC): Losses to Clemson and Virginia Tech (tough way to end the schedule) signal the end for Al Groh. And yes, I realize I’ve been calling this all season now. 12) Maryland (2-8, 1-5 ACC): If Maryland’s AD doesn’t look to get out from under Ralph Friedgen (no small task- zing) and his designated replacement, James Franklin, he’s not doing his job. Pathetic showing in College Park this year. ACC’s Going Bowling!!! So as not to make this article too long, I’ll just put my projections and who I think they’ll play: Orange Bowl: Georgia Tech (ACC Champion) vs. Boise State (At-large) Chick-Fil-A: Virginia Tech (#2) vs. LSU (SEC) Gator: Clemson (#3) vs. Rutgers (Big East) Champs Sports: North Carolina (#4) vs. Wisconsin (Big Ten) Music City: Miami (#5) vs. Auburn (SEC)

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Meineke Car Care: Boston College (#6) vs. South Florida (Big East) Emerald: Florida State (#7) vs. Arizona (Pac-10)

C.J. Spiller for Heisman November 18, 2009 I have to throw my support out there for Clemson’s do-it-all back. He’s the best player on the field no matter who he plays against. He has scored touchdowns running, receiving, passing, and returning kicks and punts. He’s a game-changer in the Reggie Bush mold, except he doesn’t have nearly the talent around him that Bush did while at USC. I’m with you, #28.

Injury Report- BC Game November 19, 2009 UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA WEEKLY FOOTBALL INJURY REPORT Boston College, November 21, 2009 Out Joshua Adams WR Shoulder AJ Blue RB/QB Knee Curtis Campbell DB Wrist David Collins OL Foot Shaun Draughn TB Shoulder Carl Gaskins OT Knee Matt Merletti S Knee Trevor Stuart DS Knee Ryan Taylor TE Knee Jamal Womble TB Wrist Questionable Devon Ramsay FB Ankle Gene Robinson DB Back Awful lot of guys out for the season…

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Game Preview: North Carolina at Boston College November 20, 2009 The role of spoiler. I hate it given that it means my team is out of contention for any bigger prize, but oh do I love to ruin a team’s good season. Carolina has a chance to end the Atlantic Division race by beating Boston College in Chestnut Hill on Saturday, and I hope the Heels can deliver. Since joining the ACC, the Heels are 2-0 vs. BC, winning 16-14 in 2005 and 45-24 in 2008, both games at home. It will be their first visit to the Northeast to visit the Eagles, though they won 1210 in Connecticut earlier this year. Of note is that the Eagles are 7-0 at home, 0-3 on the road. Let’s hope those trends are bucked on Saturday. Stats and Trends This should be a defensive-minded game. Boston College’s offense ranks 95th in the country, while Carolina is stuck at #113. Meanwhile, BC’s defense ranks 30th while Carolina slipped to 8th after a subpar performance against Miami. BC K Steve Aponavicius is perfect on the season, making 7/7 field goals and all 35 PAT’s. In a game like this, that could be HUGE. On the other hand, Casey Barth is 13 for his last 13, and hasn’t missed since October 3rd. Over the course of Carolina’spast 4 games, they have rushed for 527 yards (131.7 per game). In the previous 4 FBS games this year, they only ran for 234 (58.5). The difference has been the return of players such as Jonathan Cooper, Zack Pianalto, and Lowell Dyer to the lineup. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but their impact cannot be understated. Players to Watch - BC RB Montel Harris: The sophomore has eclipsed the 1000-yard mark for the season, and his ability to get first downs against Carolina’s stout run defense should prove to be a big factor in the game. BC doesn’t want to get into obvious passing situations against the Heels. - Carolina WR Jheranie Boyd: Its about time we saw another long TD strike off of play action to the freshman. I think it happens this week. - Carolina DE E.J. Wilson: Just a gut feeling, but I think Wilson takes advantage of extra attention to Marvin Austin and Robert Quinn and picks up over a sack on BC QB Dave Shimskie. For Carolina to win It’s painfully obvious at this point that the offense can not be relied on to sustain enough drives to win a football game. That being said, I think Carolina needs to tap into the big plays that defined the team last year. Be it a deep ball, kick return, or (like last week) interception return, the Heels need a couple plays of 50+ yards. Players likely to deliver, in this order: Jheranie Boyd, Johnny White, Charles Brown (no way they throw at Kendric Burney), Bruce Carter, Greg Little. For BC to win Although Shimskie is old enough to be out of grad school by now (he’s a 25-year old freshman), he has not shown that he can avoid critical errors. He needs to take what Carolina’s defense gives him and play an efficient game, letting the Eagles’ D win the field position battle. Fearless Prediction Neither team impressed against Virginia (BC won 14-10 last week), but the Eagles won the

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game. Does that give them momentum coming into this week? Not quite like the Heels have. Theories abound that our offense is better on the road, when it doesn’t have to listen to the ‘fans’ that boo T.J. Yates and company. I’d take the over on this game, because there’ll be big plays and costly mistakes. Heels 30, Eagles 22. Around the ACC Last week: 4-1 Overall: 53-23 53-23? Maybe I should start picking against the spread, this doesn’t seem to be fair anymore. Florida State 41, Maryland 24: Games like this make it easy to pick winners. NEAR UPSET: Miami 34, Duke 31 (OT): I have a gut feeling about this one. If Jacory Harris is still gift-wrapping interceptions like he was last week, and Duke can move the ball, the unthinkable could happen. I think Miami has too much firepower in the end. Virginia Tech 31, N.C. State 16: I may actually cheer for State to help our bowl positioning in this game… Clemson 52, Virginia 13: Unlike seasons past, Clemson answers the bell and takes care of business.

Four in a row? Stepping stone for this program. November 23, 2009 On October 29th, as I drove up to Blacksburg to watch the Carolina/Va. Tech game, I couldn’t help but think about how disappointing our season had been to that point, and play out many ‘what if?’ scenarios in my head. While I knew a bevy of injuries and attrition had crippled our offensive line, I still thought there was enough there to be competent. On the other hand, I will still acknowledge that it was nothing short of a miracle that we won at Connecticut in week 2. Well, not even a month later, I look back on the season to date and can’t be anything but proud of my Tar Heels. Butch Davis has led the team to four straight wins, all against ACC foes (two of them ranked). Offensive Coordinator John Shoop deserves all the credit in the world for adjusting the play calling to maximize the talent he has, which means a lot of pre-snap movement and quick-hitters to our best playmakers. Sitting at 8-3, Carolina fans can be satisfied knowing that the Heels will be bowling in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1998. Given the team’s resilience over the past month, the future is certainly bright in Chapel Hill. What happened in Chestnut Hill this past weekend was, to me, an extension of the Miami win and proof that this program will be defined by a strong defense as long as Coach Davis is here. Five more interceptions and 14 more points for the defense? It makes every play of the game exciting for Heels fans (the more cynical would say that we’re more likely to score on defense…). Although I was relegated to watching the game on a smaller TV without High Definition (unacceptable in 2009), this is what I observed from the Heels: - Deunta Williams: We’re trying to keep you here for your senior season. Three interceptions isn’t going to help, just knock it down! - With 8 combined interceptions between the two teams, and overall inept offenses on both sides, I made the comment repeatedly during the game that it looked like a high school tilt.

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After re-watching some highlights, I stand by that statement. - Running back situation went from bad to worse for the Heels. Already missing the 1st, 3rd, and 4th options, Ryan Houston and Anthony Elzy were both injured during the game. All indications are that Houston will be back next week, but when can our offense catch a break? - T.J. Yates, I hate to say it, seems lost out there. His footwork is inconsistent at best, and when he looks antsy in the pocket, he tends to make a bad play. It was inexcusable criminal for the offense to have three drives into BC territory in the third quarter produce no points. I think Yates needs some time off to get back to being the player he once was. He can do it. - Stat of the season: Boston College was 0-13 on third downs in the game. That, my friends, is how a defense wins you football games. - Jumping out to the 21-0 lead was great, but holding on to it was better. The defense’s ability to respond against a short field and hold the Eagles to field goals twice in the second quarter was the difference in the game, in my opinion. A touchdown on either of those drives coupled with our inability to score may have shifted momentum to the home team. - Shameless shout out to big Cam Thomas of Moore County, N.C. Way to score one for the folks at home big fella. - I love when Yates can get the ball to our fullbacks in the flat. While Devon Ramsey didn’t play (to my knowledge), Anthony Elzy and Bobby Rome both had big first down catches. Their size and speed make them threats for big plays once they get in the open field, and I would love to see them utilized more in the passing game.

…After the Postgame is published, some good news! November 23, 2009 Bruce Carter is coming back for his senior year! http://blogs.newsobserver.com/accnow/uncs-carter-will-return-for-senior-season This is HUGE to get news like this out in the open, as Carter will get NFL people off his back and be able to recruit some teammates (I’m talking to you, Marvin, Deunta, Quan, Kendric) back for what could be a special 2010 season. This helps with the article I’ve started drafting about next year in the future, which you’ll see between now and Thanksgiving (intersperced with some anti-N.C. State postings and the power rankings, coming up soon).

ACC Power Rankings, week 13 November 23, 2009 No surprises at the top, as 1 and 2 will play in the Championship Game. Also, thank you, Heels, for justifying my #3 ranking. Nothing earth-shattering here… 1) Georgia Tech (10-1, 7-1 ACC): The Jackets got a week off to prepare for rival Georgia, and hopefully take care of business. 2) Clemson (8-3, 6-2 ACC): Which Tigers team shows up in the Championship Game? The one that went down 21-0 at Georgia Tech before they broke a sweat or the one who almost came back to win the game? Finally, an exciting matchup.

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3) North Carolina (8-3, 4-3 ACC): Didn’t see this coming a month ago. We have to get one more this week in West Raleigh. 4) Virginia Tech (8-3, 5-2 ACC): I’ve been really mean to Virginia on this blog this year. I don’t believe in karma, however, so I’m thinking they’re due to beat the Hokies this week. (please?) 5) Miami (8-3, 5-3 ACC): They sleepwalked through a home win against Duke, but the Canes are still going to be a tough out for South Florida and their bowl opponent. Best case for the ACC would be for the U, along with Carolina, Virginia Tech, and Clemson all getting to 10 wins. 6) Boston College (7-4, 4-3 ACC): Incapability at quarterback can be masked by a solid running game and defense. This faith keeps the Eagles in the top half of the standings. 7) Florida State (6-5, 4-4 ACC): What was ugliest about FSU’s 29-26 win over Maryland on Saturday? A) The jerseys, which ironically, looked like Maryland’s B) DC Mickey Andrews’ chuck of Chief Osecola’s spear into midfield (it’s the last home game for the Noles before the decorated coach retires. What a season to do it. C) 29-26 win with last-minute heroics against…Maryland. I lean towards A and C, but I think D) All of the above would be the most appropriate. 8 ) Duke (5-6, 3-4 ACC): Question: Would Duke have competed for the ACC in the Atlantic Division? Evidence exists to support this. They’re 2-0 (granted, against NCSU and Maryland) in the Atlantic, and have a winnable game against Wake this week. I could see them stealing one or both against FSU and BC, so you never know where they’d be. 9) Wake Forest (4-7, 2-5 ACC): Nothing profound to say about the Deacs. 10) Virginia (3-8, 2-5 ACC): They actually played Clemson pretty well, but they need to play like they have nothing to lose this Saturday. 11) N.C. State (4-7, 1-6 ACC): It should be fun on Saturday. Hope y’all enjoyed 41-10 while it lasted. 12) Maryland (2-9, 1-6 ACC): I considered moving them up in the rankings, but then realized that a close loss at Florida State really isn’t that impressive.

UNC-N.C. State: Can’t it be Saturday yet? November 26, 2009 I’m embarrassed that I even have to write this post. North Carolina State University, the brick-littered West Raleigh community college living forever in the shadow of the flagship university 27 miles to its west, beat my Tar Heels 41-10 in Kenan Stadium last year. The inability for the Heels to hold on to the football on that cold November day and the sight of inebriated red Starter jersey-clad State fans makes my blood boil as I write. While I have a lot of close friends and family members who I’ll offend with that previous paragraph, they’ll forgive me by Christmas. The insufferable delusion of Moo-U’s fan base (as a whole) is exponentially more annoying even than Duke’s. DISCLAIMER: It should be noted that, since I live in North Carolina and not New Jersey, I don’t run across many Duke fans. I’m ashamed to write this post only because it qualifies as a must-win for Butch Davis and the Tar Heels. To go 0-3 against a school that once hosted a parade in honor of a 10-win Gator

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Bowl Champion would be a major setback for the program. Hearing “41-10″ every time I try to have an intellegent debate with a Pack fan has to stop, especially when I know good and well their team has won 28% of the games in the history of the “rivalry.” Most of all, quiet Military disciplinarian Tom O’Brien (who I still think is Opie from The Andy Griffith Show, the later years) had the audacity to state that his team was the “best football program in the state, without question” after that game. Whereas it is Thanksgiving, and we all are certainly blessed, I won’t dig any further into these guys (for now). I expect it to be a hard-fought smashmouth game with lots of personal fouls and hard hits. The Packers will do it because big brother is beating up on them. The Heels will do it because they want to intimidate their potential bowl opponents.

Preview: North Carolina at N.C. State November 26, 2009 For a Thanksgiving day helping of rivalry week disdain, [view previous blog]. Otherwise, there’s football to be played at Carolina-Friendly Stadium on Saturday. Personally, I can’t wait for this game. I love having State at the end of the season, as it makes for a relevant and interesting game on Thanksgiving weekend (sorry, Duke fans). Nothing gets your blood running like good, old-fashioned hate, which this rivalry is. Yes, it’s envy on their side just a bit, but it makes the game fun. If anyone has an extra ticket, I promise to be civil. Stats and Trends Although the Wolfpack has won the last two games in this series, Carolina holds a 63-29-6 advantage all-time, and has won 5 of 7 in Raleigh. An interesting note from this week’s release on the game is that the team with more rushing yards has won 16 of the past 17 meetings. While State probably has the better rushing attack, Carolina has by far the less porous defense. I’ll call it a push while ever-so-slightly favoring Carolina. Russell Wilson, who holds the NCAA record for consecutive throws without an interception, has now thrown 11 in the past 6 games (he threw two last season). While this is due to the offense being forced to carry the team, it does show that State can be forced into mistakes. With 508 interception return yards, Carolina leads the nation in that category by a wide margin (Clemson is second with 396). With two interceptions, the Heels will tie the 1972 team’s record with 21 interceptions for the season. While on the subject of defense, it should be noted that the Heels rank behind four teams in yards allowed per game at 261.6. The teams ahead of them? Alabama, Florida, Texas, and TCU. It’s worth mentioning that those teams are a combined 44-0 this season. Players to Watch N.C. State DE Willie Young: As the senior leader of the Wolfpack defense, it is pivotal to State’s chances that Young gets pressure on T.J. Yates. Carolina will try to pick apart the back seven through the short and intermediate passing game, so he won’t have much time to get there. UNC KR/WR/HB Johnny White: With the injuries in the backfield, we will see White’s roles expanded yet again. He has been an impact player on special teams all season long as a gunner and returner, and State’s porous kickoff coverage could give him a chance for big plays. We’ll also see him lined up all over the field on offense. I think he has a breakout game.

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N.C. State OC Dana Bible: Not a player, but I want to wish him the best. If you haven’t heard, Bible was diagnosed with leukemia this past weekend. Rivalry or not, there are some things bigger than football. Rest assured that Tar Heel nation is behind you, Coach. For Carolina to win The Heels need to set up the vertical passing game with Ryan Houston and the power running. If he can break into the second level and get the defensive backs to cheat up, it will open up all kinds of windows vs. State’s inexperienced secondary. It’s not fair to ask for the turnovers to keep going Carolina’s way, but a few more mistakes by N.C. State certainly wouldn’t hurt. For State to win They’ll be passionate in front of their home crowd, playing for one of their coaches, in their version of the Super Bowl. I look for them to play their best game of the season (and remember they handed Pittsburgh their only loss), and play a tough brand of football. If they can fly around the football on defense and the offensive line lets Russell Wilson do his thing, the Heels could be in for a long day. Fearless Prediction I’m not gonna lie, this prediction is anything but fearless. Regardless, Heels 27, Wolfpack 22. Around the ACC Ah, rivalry week. If I can’t find a ticket to CFS, I’ll be treated to a bevy of good games. It’s been a fun season at RTTB, and hopefully they’ll let (those of us fortunate enough to work for teams going to bowls) stick around. Last week 5-0 (finally!) Overall 58-23 #15 Clemson 35, South Carolina 17: If not for South Carolina’s annual late-season nosedive, I would pick this to be a lot closer and possibly an upset. As it stands, however, I think this may be it for Steve Spurrier. Duke 31, Wake Forest 27: Should be a good, if not irrelevant, game between two of the most decorated quarterbacks in their schools’ histories. I’ll take the Dukies since they’re at home and playing for a .500 record for the first time in 15 years. #1 Florida 52, Florida State 24: Sadly, the Seminoles’ defense is one of the weakest Tebow & Co. has faced all season. I think the Gators walk over FSU, and you start to hear ‘Tebow for Heisman’ cries from the media after his final home game. Maryland 21, Boston College 13: Why not? I saw nothing too impressive about the Eagles last Saturday, and the Terps are due to win one. South Florida 34, #19 Miami 20: Get Jim Leavitt on the phone with Urban Meyer, and let’s see if he can sweep Florida’s ‘Big Three’ next year. #14 Virginia Tech 24, Virginia 0: I’d LOVE for the Wahoos to pull off the upset and improve Carolina’s bowl standing, unfortunately that just isn’t going to happen. #7 Georgia Tech 44, Georgia 35: As ACC fans, we NEED the Yellow Jackets to win this one. A loss has talking heads again bemoaning the weakness of the conference, which hurts our chances next season when as many as 5 teams (I see both Techs, Miami, UNC, and Clemson) could compete for BCS berths.

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The “Can’t think of an appropriate title” post November 29, 2009 I had a friend text me in the second quarter, saying “it’s bizarro UNC. defense is giving them points and Yates is hitting receivers…” in reference to the famous Seinfeld episode. Well, in a more upsetting and less bizarro fashion, the Heels managed to blow another second half lead and ruin the positive momentum they had accumulated with wins in the previous four games. You can’t say enough about Russell Wilson, who singlehandedly beat the Tar Heels on a day where the offense was reminiscient of last year’s big play attack. I hope he goes pro in baseball and stops torturing us when our team is clearly the better one on the field. Congratulations to the Wolfpack fans (my mom inparticular) who put up with me even after reading the more disparaging post I put up on Thursday. For some reason, y’all have our number. Just answer me this one question: what bowl are you going to? - With a positive result, we would be talking about the maturation of the passing game, in particular Greg Little. What a ballgame this man had. His hands have always been questionable, but for the first time he looked like he KNEW he was coming down with every ball thrown his way. I love a confident player, and Little was definitely that today. 159 yards receiving. - What happened after State’s first three drives? Carolina stopped the Wolfpack three and out on their first three drives, but it looked to me like State’s coaches were trying to figure out the pulse of Carolina’s defense early on. Once they spread it out and let Wilson get a few quick hitters to Jarvis Williams and Owen Spencer, all 54 yards (the width) of the field were prone to be attacked. Wilson exploited every last one of them. - Sweet tattoos, N.C. State K Josh Czajkowski. - Running game: Ryan Houston looked freshman year timid today (although that could be because I’m watching Toby Gerhart and Jonathan Dwyer as I write this post). He was tiptoeing around holes and got stopped in the backfield more often than usual. Meanwhile, I’ll pat myself on the back for calling Johnny White as a player to watch. 83 yards, including his 40-yard touchdown run (the best executed play by UNC’s offense all season) were marred by his goal line fumble. - Our secondary is vulnerable against quarterbacks who are any threat to get the ball downfield. Wilson and Christian Ponder have been the best demonstrators of this fact, so hopefully our bowl opponent has a QB with a separated throwing shoulder. It was embarrassing to see Charles Brown, especially, talk trash, get burned, then talk more trash. - As a program, we still have growing to do. Two ‘inexcusable’ losses this season show room to grow, but also plenty of room to digress. I still trust in the staff to get us over the hump, starting with revenge wins against State and Virginia in 2010. - Marvin Austin played the best game of his Carolina career. He was in the State backfield all day, making plays in the running game and a sack to end the first half. If you go pro, best of luck to you big guy. I’d rather you come back and beat these guys once instead.

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Heels to Charlotte (again) to play Pitt December 7, 2009 I guess that’s what you get for losing three games to teams who will finish below .500 (assuming Florida State loses the Gator Bowl to West Virginia). I’m very bitter about Bobby Bowden getting his wish of playing a Swan Song game in the state of Florida, at the expense of more deserving Clemson, Miami, and North Carolina teams. Goes to show you that the bowl selection process is all about rewarding the student athletes the almighty dollar. On to the Carolina/Pitt matchup, I can’t say that I’m not excited about Carolina’s prospects in this game. We have been excellent at stopping the run all season, and (as evidenced by Dion Lewis’ 46 carries in their loss to Cincinnati on Saturday) Pittsburgh loves to run the ball. It’d be great to finish the season with our first bowl win since New Year’s Eve 2001 and a 9-4 record. I’ll have more on this later, I just wanted to make sure the readers know I’m still here after the West Raleigh debacle. Congratulations to Georgia Tech to finishing what they started in Tampa Bay with an exciting 39-34 win over Clemson. Also, congratulations to the ACC for getting over 42,000 in the seats, up almost 15,000 from last year.

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2009 UNC Campus Correspondent