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November 6, 2013

UVA-UNC Capsule

Football Preview

The North Carolina football team is riding a two-game winning streak and is in a decent position to close out the season on a hot streak and get into a decent bowl game.

That's not to say that the Tar Heels don't have a fairly tough road ahead. With a game on the road against Pittsburgh and a season finale showdown with archrival Duke, the Heels have tough matchups against opponents with something to prove.

This week's game against Virginia would appear to be a really winnable game for the Tar Heels. But at just 3-5 and a plethora of young players leading the way, the Cavaliers are likely looking at this game as a winnable one for themselves as well.

Without further ado, let's take a look at some storylines to pay attention to this weekend.

Trap Game

While there is certainly reason to believe this is a game that can allow UNC to continue their winning ways of recent weeks, this game also has all the makings of a trap game.

Larry Fedora has been preaching a "1-0" approach to each week as UNC looks to end the season strong and recuperate from their weak start. That means remaining focused against opponents like Virginia the same way they were for a big rivalry game like N.C. State.

Many players have been echoing the sentiments of the head coach by constantly repeating the "1-0" quote Fedora has been pushing in the media. That means the message is getting through and it's not something they can use as an excuse if they trip up. They've been warned by the leadership that they don't have any margin for error.

But these are college aged athletes we're talking about and it's a team coming off a big rivalry game victory, while also dealing with the loss of their star senior quarterback Bryn Renner to a possible career ending shoulder injury.

"FIrst of all, offensively they're really quite a bit different than they were from the other years I faced them. They're doing much more with the quarterback. They've got a kid (David Watford) that can run and throw," said Fedora at his Wednesday press conference. "They've got a very talented running back (Kevin Parks), and they're finding a lot of different ways. There are a lot of different formations, a lot of motion shifts, a lot of movement, to get you out of position and create problems for you."

This is the kind of game that can truly define UNC as a team. Will they remain focused and take care of a team their supposed to beat or will they falter like a young team that can't fully focus on the task at hand like they've done earlier in the year?

That's a big question that needs to get answered on Saturday.

Quarterback

Obviously it's a big deal that Renner isn't available, likely for the rest of his college career. It's also quite fortunate for UNC that they've been giving Marquise Williams an increased role the last few weeks.

Fedora and the coaching staff have a great amount of trust in Williams after unleashing him a bit more than usual over the last month. He hasn't just been a change of pace quarterback because when given the chance he's shown he can run the entire playbook.

"First of all, I consider Marquise a dual-threat quarterback. He can throw the ball. He throws it very well.

But in the situations that we were using Marquise in a lot of times, to bring a compliment to the offense that we didn't necessarily have with Bryn (Renner)--- we brought more of the quarterback runs into the offense," said Fedora.

"That's not necessarily changing what we do---we're going to do what we do---but I don't know that we will sit there and decide that we're going to run the quarterback a majority of the game. We've got very good running backs that we can put the ball in their hands and make plays, but I'm sure there will be some opportunities where Marquise will run the football and we'll take advantage of some things."

The difference now is that if he does run into a cold streak, the staff can't just throw in their All-ACC alternative to bail him out or get the offense back on track. It's likely all on Williams.

Virginia
(2-7,0-5)

vs.
North Carolina
(3-5,2-3)

ACC Standings
Game Day
Line: North Carolina by 13.5
Date: Saturday, November 9
Time: 12:30 pm
Stadium: Kenan Stadium (63,000)

TV: ACC Network (Click Link To Watch Online)
Radio: THSN; SIRIUSXM
(S 93,XM 195)
Weather: Chapel Hill Forecast
Series: North Carolina leads the all-time series with Virginia 60-53-4.
Last Meeting: UNC won 37-13 on November 15, 2012 in Charlottesville

Virginia at a glance
Location: Charlottesville, Va
Nickname: Cavaliers
Colors: Orange & Blue
Stadium: Scott Stadium (61,500)
Surface: Athletic Turf
Conference: ACC
2012 Record: 4-8 (2-6)
Head Coach: Mike London
(18-28 at UVA, 42-43 overall)
Last Game: Lost 59-10 vs. #8 Clemson on November 2 in Charlottesville

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Roster | Schedule | Stats


Virginia Leaders
Passing: David Watford
(207-349, 1845 yds, 7 TD)

Rushing: Kevin Parks
(160 carries, 696 yds, 4.4 avg, 9 TD)

Receiving: Tim Smith
(23 rec, 350 yds, 15.2 avg, 1 TD)


Virginia Rankings
Passing: 213.6 YPG (82nd)
Rushing: 157.2 YPG (76th)
Point For: 21.2 PPG (104th)
Points Against: 32.6 PPG (100th)

North Carolina Leaders
Passing: Bryn Renner
(152-231, 1765 yds, 10 TD)
Rushing: AJ Blue
(70 carries, 266 yds, 3.8 avg, 1 TD)
Receiving: Eric Ebron
(44 rec, 669 yds, 15.2 avg, 3 TD)

North Carolina Rankings
Passing: 302.0 YPG (19th)
Rushing: 108.4 YPG (111th)
Point For: 25.3 PPG (86th)
Points Against: 26.6 PPG (65th)

Can he handle the full responsibility of being the starting quarterback? He looked really good against Virginia Tech on the road against a much stouter defense than the one he'll face Saturday.

But this is a different type of test. This could be the beginning of the "Marquise Williams" era in Tar Heel history.

Defense

The UNC defense has looked light-years better the last few weeks than they did at the beginning of the season.

The defensive secondary, while still prone to giving up big plays, has been able to make plays of their own, something that Fedora has stressed all the time.

The defense simply wasn't making enough big plays earlier in the year and were allowing teams to push them around at will.

While they still aren't the 2000 Baltimore Ravens, guys like Dominique Green have given Tar Heel fans hope for the future as they look to continue developing into defensive ball hawks.

Guys like Mikey Bart and Junior Gnonkonde also figure to get more playing time along the defensive line as their youthful exuberance and athletic versatility still need nurturing and now is as good a time as ever to get those valuable reps while still being productive.




 

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