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October 23, 2013

BC-UNC Capsule

Football Preview

In Larry Fedora's first season as the head coach at Southern Miss, his team started that year 2-6 before winning the final six games of the season and winning their bowl game.

History says that Fedora is capable of galvanizing the troops and keeping them focused on the task at hand.

Realistically, the Tar Heels goal of winning an ACC title this season seems to be sailing fast. But UNC still has the ability to go on a winning streak and reach a bowl game.

They'll start that journey this weekend when they attempt to take out a scrappy Boston College squad. The Golden Eagles have only lost to the highest of competition with their three defeats coming at the hands of Southern Cal, Florida State and Clemson.

Both teams view this game as a moment where their season can be made or broken, particularly in the case of UNC.

Let's take a look at some key things to watch.

Andre Williams

Boston College's running back Andre Williams leads the ACC in rushing and will be the tempo-setter for the Golden Eagles.

UNC defensive end Kareem Martin had one of his best performances of the season against Miami. He was able to penetrate the offensive line and get into the backfield several times throughout the game and even when he didn't make a tackle, he was able to re-direct the play.

He'll need to do more of the same against Williams.

Before playing Clemson, Williams wasn't just the ACC's leading rusher---he was the top ball-carrier in the entire nation. He's had 100 yards rushing in four of his six starts and the Heels will have their hands full as they try to get him to the ground.

UNC Quarterbacking

UNC fans got to see a new era of Tar Heel football last week.

It appears that unless Marquise Williams completely nose dives during a game that he's earned his fair share of playing time alongside Bryn Renner.

Let's face it, although the season is far from over, this week will determine a number of things for the Tar Heels.

Although Renner has had a solid career and isn't playing terrible by any means, the fact remains that if UNC were to lose this weekend there is no doubt that the coaching staff will begin focusing on getting players ready for the years to come.

That means that while Renner and Williams are splitting an 80/20 split at the moment, fans should expect that split to get closer together as the season moves along.

Last week the staff predetermined when Williams would enter the game for the first time and then inserted him on a gut feeling basis with certain packages they felt he could excel in.

This week it will be interesting to see if Williams gets more snaps and more snaps within sets that Tar Heel fans will see him running in the years to come.

Confidence & Intensity

Despite the slow start to the season and the somewhat dimmed expectations heading into Zero Dark Thursday, UNC came out fired and playing with a ton of exuberance against the Hurricanes.

The intense crowd and the way UNC played almost allowed them to pull off the upset of a top-ten ranked team. They didn't get the job done, allowing Miami to score a game-winning touchdown with under a minute to play, but it can be argued that was the best performance of the season for the Tar Heels.

Now, it remains to be seen if the players, and the crowd, can replicate that type of energy and effort for a noon game on a Saturday against Boston College.

If they can they might be on to something.

"I think the morale is a lot better than I thought it would be," Renner said earlier this week after practice. "We're eager to have another opportunity this Saturday to correct the loss and I think we had a great practice yesterday getting back at it and fall break happened and we're ready to get back in the swing of things and get a win on Saturday."

If those comments are a true reflection of the team's mental state after such a heartbreaking loss and what has been a disappointing season thus far then the Heels have a chance to get some momentum rolling.

Boston College

North Carolina

ACC Standings
Game Day
Line: North Carolina by 7
Date: Saturday, October 26
Time: 3:30 pm
Stadium: Kenan Stadium (63,000)

TV: Regional Sports Network (Click link for affiliates)
(S 132,XM 195)
Weather: Chapel Hill Forecast
Series: UNC leads the all-time series with BC, 4-2.
Last Meeting: UNC won 31-13 at BC in 2009

Boston College at a glance
Location: Boston, Mass.
Nickname: Eagles
Colors: Maroon & Gold
Stadium: Alumni Stadium (44,500)
Surface: Field Turf
Conference: ACC
2012 Record: 2-10 (1-7)
Head Coach: Steve Addazio
(3-3 at BC, 16-14 overall)
Last Game: Lost 24-14 at #3 Clemson on October 12

Official Site | Rivals Site
Roster | Schedule | Stats

Boston College Leaders
Passing: Chase Rettig
(84-131, 1083 yds, 10 TD)

Rushing: Andre Williams
(157 carries, 838 yds, 5.3 avg, 7 TD)

Receiving: Alex Amidon
(38 rec, 547 yds, 14.4 avg, 3 TD)

Boston College Rankings
Passing: 180.5 YPG (104th)
Rushing: 172.3 YPG (62nd)
Point For: 25.2 PPG (86th)
Points Against: 26.3 PPG (58th)

North Carolina Leaders
Passing: Bryn Renner
(119-188, 1414 yds, 8 TD)
Rushing: AJ Blue
(57 carries, 224 yds, 3.9 avg, 0 TD)
Receiving: Eric Ebron
(31 rec, 532 yds, 17.2 avg, 3 TD)

North Carolina Rankings
Passing: 309.8 YPG (20th)
Rushing: 100.8 YPG (114th)
Point For: 23.5 PPG (94th)
Points Against: 30.7 PPG (92nd)

If it's just a bluff and that was the last straw to break the spirit of UNC, this could get ugly quickly heading into the end of year.

Eric Ebron

UNC tight end Eric Ebron probably bumped himself into the first round of the NFL Draft whenever he decides to come out with his performance on the big national stage.

After setting a single-game tight end receiving record for UNC, Ebron should always be mentioned as one of the most dangerous offensive threats in the ACC from now until he leaves college.

Ebron provides a huge security blanket for whichever quarterback is under center at the time and will always be a match-up nightmare wherever he is lined up.

While his on-field production is a major key to any potential Tar Heel turnaround, his practice demeanor and locker room attitude will go a long way in helping this team cement its legacy. He knows that and talked about it earlier in the week.

"1-5 does not speak for how good we actually are, 1-5 does not speak for how hard we work, or if we do - that might be running across some people's mind, 1-5 speaks for the mistakes that we've made, the mental errors and the youth of our team," Ebron said. "We just have to keep going out there and giving the best we've got. That's the only way you're really handling and accepting that you're 1-5 is if you go out there and play your hardest, not if you go out there and just lolly-gag around and you're 1-5 because you're not producing or you're not doing what needs to be done out there on the football field."

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