It’s been a couple of weeks since the UNC Football team has been in action. Ever since Giovani Bernard turned a punt return into a game winning score to stop a five game slide to arch rival N.C. State. Today at Kenan Stadium North Carolina (6 & 3 ~ 3-2 in the ACC) will host Georgia Tech (4 & 5 ~ 3-3 in the ACC), kick off being at 12:30 p.m EST, being televised on the ACC Network and ESPN3, to try and stop another skid. With a victory over the Yellow Jackets the Tar Heels could stop a skid versus this ACC opponent, which they have not defeated since 2008 (three games in all).
The bad news about this game is that head coach Larry Fedora and his team will face the very seldom seen triple option, something, as the three game losing streak can attest to, as proven to be a problem for the Heels. The good news is that this time UNC will face this offense with an extra week of preparation, and that can only help the UNC D.
Some would say, having seen the UNC pass defense of late, that playing against a running team might be the best thing for Carolina. However, when you are talking about Georgia Tech’s running game you are speaking about the best in the ACC and fourth in the whole country with 318.2 yards per game. A rushing attack that has scored 35 times, gained an average 5.9 yds per carry and will run it over 54 times a game.
On the other side of the ball GT has been pretty bad, with a sub .500 record, having given up 41 or more points in four games this season, this is definitely a team that the combo of Giovani Bernard (on the ground) and Bryn Renner (through the air) should be able to attack.
Here are my keys to the game:
Score early and stay ahead at all times! If you want to get GT in a bad spot you have to make them go a lot quicker than they like to play. If the Yellow Jackets get the lead they will run and run and run some more, controlling both the tempo and the time of the game. Playing to their strengths in all ways. Putting them behind by a couple of scores is going to make coach Paul Johnson’s team play a bit quicker, pass more, things that they are not accustomed to doing much and, more importantly, do not do well at all.
Furthermore, this Georgia Tech team is looking for two more wins if they want to go into the post season this year. Keeping them close is just going to fuel them in believing this is one of the two games they can win in order to carry out the task of being bowl eligible. By shutting them down early and putting them, no pun intended, on their heels, they will come back to reality of being a losing team this year.
Go Gio Go! I know, again, I keep making this one of my points. But tell me why I would not? The red shirt sophomore is about to have his second 1,000 rushing yard season. He is coming off a 300+ all purpose yards game against a much better N.C. State defense. There is no reason in my mind that Bernard can not have another great game in front of the home crowd.
Let me add this, if you have not seen the young man live, I would go to this game, cause it might just be one of the last chances to do so as a Tar Heel, since I believe that next year he will be playing on Sunday. And rightfully so!
Think about the future. This team, as I have said many times over, is not going to the post season. It can not even with its division if they were to come in first, due to all the past problems. But what they can, and are, doing is to make sure that the past is farther and farther away and that the future is better and better. While winning does not take away anything from what happened in the past, it shows that this time has moved on, with a new coaching staff and with a great attitude.
In the end, North Carolina is a 7.5 points favorite in this one, and I think they are going to cover and a bit more as well, winning this game by 10 to 12 points, with the final score being 35 to 24. I think that North Carolina will run the ball hard, using Bernard, and then hit over the top with Brenner when Georgia Tech has to crowd the box in order to stop the 1K yard rusher. With a few games left this squad has a chance to get nine wins this year, something that most wished they could do, but a lot less believed could!
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