Alright Hoos, you are doing this to me again. You’re elevating hopes above conventional levels, just ready to give me a huge let down. The NC State game was beautiful. Now you give me a “highlight for the ages” game against Miami, and now we have creeped back to 4-6. On top of that, the two remaining games on our schedule are against teams that aren’t playing their best ball of the season. But before we get our dreams way up, we have to have a Thursday night tilt against our mortal enemies, UNC. So what should be look forward to on our 4th Year Night? Here is our preview.
The South’s Oldest Rivalry
Only 5 years (1899, 1906, 1909, 1917, 1918) since 1892 has this game not be played. It is just unbelievable that it 2 schools have kept this series alive since 1919. And it is more unbelievable that the series is as close as it is. The Heels lead the series 58-54-4, but I like to say those 4 ties vote with Virginia. Some of the more notable games of late have been the infamous 1996 20-17 win that saw the Hoos come back from a 17-3 hole in the fourth quarter to pull out the victory, the 7-5 soccer match that broke out in 2005 (and an agonizing loss), and a 22-20 win in 2007 where an assistant manager told Groh to challenge a field goal ruling, that was eventually overturned.
North Carolina This Year
It has been an up and down year for the Heels, with the overlying theme being their probation from post season play. They are 6-4 overall and 3-3 in ACC play. They crush Elon to begin the season, then drop back to back games to Wake and Louisville. That’s when they flip the switch and win 4 in a row against ECU, Idaho, VT, and Miami. Right now they have lost the last 2 of 3, sandwiching a win against NC State with losses to Duke and Georgia Tech.
Oh, have I mentioned that Larry Fedora is the new head coach? Somehow I must have overlooked that point. Well, with the addition of Sinatra’s hat at the helm, comes the spread game, mainly 3 WR, 1 TE, and 1 RB look. While Fedora loves to get the ball to the receivers, the running backs are used heavily. And no RB is used more in the ACC than Giovani Bernard. He has over 1,000 yards so far on the ground and 400 receiving with 15 total touchdowns. If you thought Dukes tore us up last week, he can absolutely obliterate us if we don’t watch it. Bryn Renner is the field general for the Heels and has had a very decent season so far (63.1%, 2736 yards, 20 TD, 7 INT). Renner will throw it around the field to a bunch of players, but outside of Bernard out of the backfield, look for Eric Ebron (568, 3), Erik Highsmith (511, 2), and Quinshad Davis (463, 3) to get a majority of the looks.
So much for those clean 4-3 defenses. The Heels put 11 on the field and every player plays a unique roll on the defense. You can think of it as a 4-3/3-4/3-3-5 hybrid with players like a ‘bandit’ who is a cross between a DE and a SLB and a ‘ram’ who is a cross between a SLB and a SS. Basically, you need to keep your eyes on DT Sylvester Williams, MLB Kevin Reddick, and CB Tim Scott.
UVa is 0-2 when facing Sammy Davis, Jr’s headpiece, with both losses occurring while he was at Southern Miss. He likes to run a high flying offense and make opponents ‘catch him if you can’. If Virginia is to compete, they will need to have a game like the Miami game, which means they will have to score 30+ points for a 3rd week in a row, something we have not done since 2004 (Hoos went 5 weeks with 30+ points to open the season). I don’t think it is impossible, but very improbable. And since predicting the opponents to win has helped the last two weeks, I’ll keep it going this week. UNC 38, UVa 24.