Alex Conway & John Gwaltney Jr
By the time UNC touches the grass and kicks off the 2013 season at
Williams-Brice Stadium, 277 days will have passed since the last time
the Tar Heels played a football game.
Doesn't it feel great to have football back?
In case you haven't been near your television or computer in the last
38 seconds, South Carolina has a monster on their defensive line in the
form of Jadeveon Clowney. Much of the offseason has been
spent discussing Mr. Clowney's talents and his bone-rattling hit in the
Gamecock's 33-28 victory over Michigan in the Outback Bowl to end last
The Tar Heels will have to find a way to manage Clowney's abilities
and production but despite the percentage of talk that has been lent to
that topic, there are other storylines to discuss heading into Week One.
Without further ado, let's take a look at this week's match-up.
Jadeveon Clowney vs. James Hurst
This could be the best one-on-one match-up in all of college football
during Week One, especially from an NFL Draft prognosticators
Clowney is a consensus top 10 pick and James Hurst very well
could join him in that draft projection range with a good showing in
Hurst has been asked some variation of the same question over and over again: How do you stop Clowney?
"It's going to be a big one. It's going to be 60 minutes of probably
playing the best player I've ever gotten to block. But I'm looking
forward to it," said Hurst. "He's a great player. If you want to take
your game to the next level you have to play against the best players
and that's part of it and I'm excited for it."
Hurst dealt with injuries towards the end of last year but has gotten
through training camp without incident.
Having Hurst on the field is something head coach Larry
Fedora is comforted by but he doesn't have any expectation that
Clowney will be put down completely Thursday night.
"I'm not looking forward to it (Clowney vs. Hurst). The guy is a
great player. I'm long beyond the one play from MIchigan. That guy makes
plays, and he's a major factor. I am glad that James Hurst is going to
be over there, but I also am not naive to think that's the only place
he's going to line up. He's probably going to line up everywhere and be
put into position to have success against our offense," said Fedora.
"First of all, you understand you're not going to shut him (Clowney)
down. He's too good of a football player."
Speaking of which...
As much fun as it would be to see Clowney go head-to-head with Hurst
on every snap, chances are the Gamecocks' coaches are aware that their
best chance of maximizing their star defender's talents against UNC will
be to move him around.
Furthermore, their just as aware as most Tar Heels fans that there
was an intense battle for the right tackle position and they'll be
looking to test that link in the chain as often as possible.
Jon Heck beat out Kiaro Holts, John
Ferranto and Nick Appell for the starting job and he'll
get his first start against an SEC defense that has high expectations.
He won't be the only new member of the o-line as Caleb
Peterson and Landon Turner also step into starting roles
for the first time.
South Carolina might even put Clowney inside to help get an interior
push and to force the young guys up front to keep track of his every
move, making a stressful environment even more so.
Scheming to stop Clowney
One more point about Clowney and his potential impact on the game
before we move on.
Will he even be a factor?
UNC could neutralize the All-American simply by getting the ball out
of quarterback Bryn Renner's hands quickly-something that is a
trademark of Fedora's offense anyway.
The pace at which UNC's offense runs and the play calling will be as
much of a factor in shutting down Clowney as the personnel.
North Carolina (0-0,0-0) vs. #6/7 South Carolina (0-0,0-0)
Line: South Carolina
Date: Thursday, August
29 Time: 6:00 pm Stadium: Williams-Brice (80,250) TV:
ESPN (Watch Online)
THSN; SIRIUSXM (S91,XM91) Weather:
Columbia Forecast Series: UNC leads the series 34-17-4
South Carolina at a glance
Colors: Garnet & Black
Surface: Natural Grass
Record: 11-2 (6-2) Head
Coach: Steve Spurrier
(208-72-2 overall, 66-37 at SC) Official Site |
Of course, when South Carolina played Clemson in last year's
regular season finale, Clowney had his best game of the year with 4.5
sacks, so he has the talent to dominant anyway. Clemson plays as
fast as anyone in the ACC but even still, Clowney won't have as long to
rush the passer as he does against the more traditional, pro-style
orientated offenses that litter the SEC.
UNC's offensive weapons
The first year under Fedora's offensive system was a banner year for
the Tar Heels.
Year number two should be even better.
Giovani Bernard might be gone but the Tar Heels are stacked at
running back even without him. It was announced last week that
Romar Morris will start while A.J. Blue will serve as
That decision was made in large part because of Morris' progression
on the field but also because Blue was unable to stay healthy long
enough to keep getting first team reps during training camp. Make
no mistake, however, Blue will get his touches this year regardless if
he's on the field for the first snaps of the game.
It's unclear if freshman T.J. Logan will play in Week One
because of an injury but he and fellow freshman Ryan Switzer
have made an immediate impression and will be a big part of this year's
team. If Logan can play, expect Switzer to line up in the
backfield, in the slot and a host of other spots on the field while