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October 30, 2013

UNC-NCSU Capsule

Football Preview

In many ways, this week's game between UNC and N.C. State represents a big culture change for one or the other program.

UNC is nearing the completion of year number two under Larry Fedora while Dave Doeren's Wolfpack squad is past the halfway point of his maiden voyage in Raleigh.

Both coaches are working with players who weren't entirely recruited by them and implementing systems that can take a few years to take root.

Fedora and Doeren are also attempting to do more than just overhaul the rosters---their also trying to change the cultures at their respective schools.

Fedora has talked about creating a game day atmosphere that Tar Heel fans can hold up against other big-time college programs as proof that they aren't the "wine and cheese" crowd of yesteryear. Doeren is trying to beef up the overall talent level of his squad by building up the statewide brand of his program in a way that former coach Tom O'Brien never could.

Victories in games like this go a long way in building up the goodwill amongst fans and players alike and its importance is never misunderstood by a coach in the know about how much the game means to the dueling fan bases.

Momentum

The two teams couldn't be coming into this game with a more varying set of circumstances from their previous games.

UNC is coming off a blowout victory over Boston College while N.C. State is coming off a performance that will be shown over and over again on Jameis Winston's (possible) Heisman highlight tape.

However, records and previous performances rarely have any real meaning in these games. In fact, judging by last year's performance, the first half of a game doesn't even matter all that much.

Having said all that, both teams have something to prove based on past performances against one another. N.C. State would like to replace that image of Gio Bernard racing by their punt return team with an image of equal if not greater epic-ness from one of their guys and UNC would like to rid themselves of a three-game losing streak in Raleigh.

Fedora has talked about having a "1-0" mindset heading into every week as they try to claw their way into a decent bowl game. Supposedly this game doesn't have any added meaning but Fedora might have contradicted his words a tad bit during his weekly radio show Tuesday night.

"I think it's going to be a blast. I really do. I think that's what makes college football so great. Your regional rivalries that you have," said Fedora. "The bragging rights, the animosity amongst the fans, all the things that take place. I think that's the fun part about it"

That sounds like a coach that knows a victory over N.C. State would make a disappointing season a little easier to stomach if UNC can't reach all their preseason benchmarks.

Quarterback Play

This has been a common theme for the Tar Heels as they continue to employ their two-quarterback system. The marriage between Bryn Renner and Marquise Williams has been quite healthy as it seems to have sparked the Tar Heel offense and mad them more dynamic and difficult to prepare for.

A lot of the credit has to be given to Renner for not allowing a potentially difficult proposition---sitting in favor of his eventual successor---get in the way of his ultimate goal: winning ball games.

"I think it's been great for both of us. The offense has kind of been sparked here in the last two games but me and Marquise, we do a great job during the week of getting those reps and seeing different things," said Renner. "When I'm on the sidelines I can help him and he does vice versa for me. It's really helped us in the last two weeks."

N.C. State has had to use two quarterbacks this season but not out of choice. They've had injuries that have hampered the progress Doeren likely would have expected out of his newly installed offense.

It appears Brandon Mitchell will start over Pete Thomas but expect both guys to see action throughout the game. Neither guy poses the rushing threat that Doeren's previous quarterback

North Carolina
(2-5,1-3)

vs.
N.C. State
(3-4,0-4)

ACC Standings
Game Day
Line: North Carolina by 4
Date: Saturday, November 2
Time: 12:30 pm
Stadium: Carter-Finley Stadium (57,583)

TV: ACC Network (Watch Online)
Radio: THSN; SIRIUSXM
(S 137,XM 195)
Weather: Raleigh Forecast
Series: North Carolina leads the all-time series with N.C. State 64-32-6.
Last Meeting: UNC won 43-35 on October 27, 2012 in Chapel Hill

N.C. State at a glance
Location: Raleigh, N.C.
Nickname: Wolfpack
Colors: Red & White
Stadium: Carter-Finley Stadium (57,583)
Surface: Natural Grass
Conference: ACC
2012 Record: 7-6 (4-4)
Head Coach: Dave Doeren
(3-4 at NCSU, 26-8 overall)
Last Game: Lost 49-17 at #2 Florida State on October 26 in Tallahassee

Official Site | Rivals Site
Roster | Schedule | Stats


N.C. State Leaders
Passing: Pete Thomas
(117-192, 1314 yds, 3 TD)

Rushing: Shadrach Thornton
(68 carries, 357 yds, 5.3 avg, 4 TD)

Receiving: Bryan Underwood
(32 rec, 382 yds, 11.9 avg, 1 TD)


N.C. State Rankings
Passing: 232.7 YPG (63rd)
Rushing: 180.1 YPG (54th)
Point For: 23.6 PPG (92nd)
Points Against: 25.1 PPG (56th)

North Carolina Leaders
Passing: Bryn Renner
(137-209, 1641 yds, 10 TD)
Rushing: AJ Blue
(65 carries, 249 yds, 3.8 avg, 1 TD)
Receiving: Eric Ebron
(35 rec, 599 yds, 17.1 avg, 3 TD)

North Carolina Rankings
Passing: 305.9 YPG (19th)
Rushing: 102.1 YPG (114th)
Point For: 25.0 PPG (88th)
Points Against: 27.7 PPG (70th)

Jordan Lynch did at Northern Illinois and neither has the physical build or reputation to take the beating Lynch did and stand to tell about it.

The Breakout Game

The way Fedora and some of the veteran players have been talking recently would lead Tar Heel fans to believe that the next generation of UNC football players are ready to make their mark on this North Carolina season.

Ryan Switzer has been a constant threat on special teams, Jonathan Howard has given whichever quarterback is in the game a nice, big target to throw to and T.J. Logan has breathed some life into UNC's stagnant running game.

That's three freshmen that really had an impact on the offense. Three touchdowns between them. Now we've got to get T.J. in the endzone," said Fedora.

Those guys, along with Jon Heck, Caleb Peterson and Landon Turner on the offensive line, have definitely experienced growing pains this season while showing flashes of what can happen in the future.

A game against an arch-rival, on the road, during a season that has been less than pleasant for Tar Heel fans, can go a long ways toward securing an endearing legacy in Tar Heel lore.

It's hard to expect that last point hasn't been brought up by Fedora throughout practice this week, not just in talking with the freshman, but also with guys like Renner, Kareem Martin, Tim Jackson and A.J. Blue. All those senior leaders have endured more than most college athletes since they arrived in Chapel Hill and they have all expressed in recent weeks that they are aware their collegiate careers are coming to a close.

This game, short of a bowl victory, might be the most lasting memory these guys craft out during their senior seasons.




 

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