Over the last couple of weeks, we have been looking at the area that we have an advantage or disadvantage in multiple areas when it comes to our upcoming opponents. This week, we look at a talented North Carolina football team. Carolina is coming off of a tough loss to a middle of the road Wake Forest team who took advantage of Carolina scoring Field Goals instead of Touchdowns.
Again, here is how this works.
At the end of each section, I rate the advantage or disadvantage on a 5 point scale. -2, -1, Even, +1, or +2. 2 point advantages are reserved for very big advantages or disadvantages. Lets begin.
- Offensive Line Play -- These two teams really look very similar. They both run spreads with different named offenses. However, I feel there is a slight advantage to one side. The running games will look fairly similar with each team being able to take advantage of some holes and D-Linemen still being a bit unsure of their assignments. North Carolina has a couple of guys on their O-Line who could go early in the Draft next year, but this section could come down to the ability to hold their blocks. Assuming the O-Line of the CARDS can hold their blocks, I don't see any reason Bridgewater cant pick their Secondary apart for big yards. Tanner Price was able to throw for 362 yards against this defense. The middle was open all day. Expect them to try to crowd the middle this Saturday, leaving the sidelines open as well. CARDS +1
- The Run Game -- The CARDS did rush for over 100 yards for the second week and held their opponent under 100 yards for the second week as well. However, this UNC run game should be able to move the ball pretty well against the CARDS D-Line assuming Bernard does play. I still have yet to hear anything definite regarding his status, other that he has practiced in full pads this week. The CARDS should be able to run the ball well too, as they are a Run to set up the pass style spread. Expect for them to be similar style run games, but an edge goes to UNC.-1
- Special Teams -- UNC has a pretty strong special teams unit. Last week, Barth hit both of his field goals and Hibbard was able to put 2 of his five punts inside the 20 while averaging almost 50 yards a punt. I hope to goodness we can put a couple of kickoffs into the end zone or we could be looking at some good returns from their speed guys. We are still young, but this could be a big week for the special teams on our end to step up. Could this be where the BIG PLAY (Urrutia Stiff Arm) comes from for this game? We will see. Until we do, UNC has an advantage here too. -1
- Impact of "New" Players -- That Honey Mustard was had a big game last week, huh? I know he isn't new, but man. Anyway, New players like Corvin Lamb could make a big difference this week. With the Big Brown Truck likely to miss this week as well, perhaps Lamb can keep his perfect percentage of carries to touchdowns intact. I also want to do my best Brick impression while I yell "I Love Lamb!" again. The biggest New player on the other side of the ball will likely be Larry Fedora. A lot of teams really struggle with a new head coach. We Carolina struggle against what is not a great Wake team. This could be part coincidence and part not being used to a new coach or new playbooks. Just because we have all seen how tough it can be after losing a Head Coach, I have to believe it is easier to play more cohesive with a team with a few new players who are used to the same offense than to play for a brand new coach. CARDS advantage. +1
- Coaching -- That leads me to this next area, Coaching. The CSX (Coach Strong X-press) is still rolling. I also feel neither Watson nor Bedford have put it all out there yet. Expect to see a few new plays and masterful blitz schemes that could really impress a few people. I see us finally seeing our full playbook opened up. I expect to be impressed. And like I said above, I see UNC still not being completely comfortable with their new schemes. They had to play hard and put a lot on the table for them to play Wake close. This is why I see the CARDS as having an advantage when it comes to coaching. +1
- Depth -- Both teams are pretty deep. The CARDS don't have quite as many Juniors and Seniors as UNC, but they do have a lot of second and third year starters who will be starting on Saturday. The most important starter is arguably TD Bridgewater. As Eddie George said, he may be young, but he plays like he is 30. He makes great decisions and studies the game so hard. Carolina's quarterback Renner is effective, but may not be quite as accurate as Bridgewater. Still, both teams are very deep with many play makers. This one is a push. Even
- Defensive Pressure -- I really expected to see a lot more Blitzing last weekend, as I expect the defensive playbook to be expanded. While the Defensive line we play against will be more experienced and more talented than that of either LBA or Missouri State, I do expect to see a few more sacks. Also, look for Renner to be uncomfortable under the pressure, which hurries him into a few ill advised passes into the hands of Bushell or Pryor. I feel the Defensive pressure will be handled fairly well from the Cards O-Line, with two sacks coming from the other side. If the CARDS win the turn over battle, I see them winning this game. This happens by getting to the quarter back early and often. This happens more by the Red and Black. CARDS +1
- Expectations -- 19 means something around these parts. The CARDS can't let the expectations get into their heads. I think Strong has done a good job of keeping the guys focused this week. He has made this more about having something to prove and less about not getting respect. The country will expect them to be the better team, but this has to be proven. It seems the will come out hungry. But on the flip side, Carolina comes out with something to prove themselves. They will want to show that last weeks game was not how this team will look at the end of the season, and it starts with this week. This is just as big a game for them as it is for us. They were on the verge of being ranked before last weeks loss. This is a push, with expectations high for both teams. EVEN
- Position Edges -- TD Bridgewater is a clear advantage over Renner. Bernard if he plays is an advantage over our running backs. Our Receivers are a bit more sure-handed than theirs, Their O-Line is a little bit better than ours at run blocking, but about the same on pass blocking. Our Devensive Line should be better than theirs. Our secondary is also an edge over theirs. And their Special Teams is better than ours. All this being said, CARDS have a little advantage. +1
- Offensive Improvement -- Again, I look for the CARDS to be able to pull a couple of plays out of the back of the play book that we have not seen yet that will catch Carolina off guard. Expect the offense to be improved. While they may not score 40+ points and give us the full 30% off at Fan Outfitters on Monday, I do like them to play better on both sides of the ball. Carolina has to improve offensively to make sure they keep up with the CARDS. Easier said than done. Edge CARDS. +1
As of Friday night, I have the CARDS as a 4 point favorite. I know the line is 3 right now. It take it. I expect for it to be close, as do most of the talking heads. I see both offenses having a little trouble getting started, then picking up. Then the team whose defense can step up and seal the deal will take this one. I like the CARDS to start out 3-0 with a victory over UNC. OSM Pick: 38-34
Man, I had a lot of fun at the game Saturday. The past two weekends have been a blast. I will be working this week so I will not be there for this one, but I will be rooting us on and wearing my CARDS Gear there! Looking forward to this one. It will be entertaining.
Then Beat the Bears!!!
Then Beat the Tar Heels!!! Go CARDS!!!