Alex Conway & John Gwaltney Jr
UNC is coming off a thrilling 34-27 win over the Pittsburgh Panthers
last Saturday. The win gave the Tar Heels their fourth straight victory
and continue UNC's march towards a somewhat improbable postseason run
after starting the season 1-5.
UNC heads into this weekend's game with Old Dominion with a ton of
momentum and some new tricks up their sleeve. Namely, their running game
has been much improved, although the win over Pitt did snap a four-game
stretch where UNC's rushing yardage increased ever week.
As the Tar Heels look to continue their winning ways, let's take a
look at some of the storylines to pay attention for this weekend's game.
UNC's best running back? Quarterback Marquise Williams. With
326 yards rushing for the season, Williams is now the Tar Heels leading
rusher and has unquestionably sparked the offense.
While it's certainly unfortunate that Bryn Renner is no
longer available for action and his career is likely over, the switch
was coming at the beginning of next year one way or another. This late
season surge has given UNC fans a glimpse into the kind of dynamic
playmaking ability Williams brings to the offense and the Heels should
be much further along by start of the 2014 season.
Not only does Williams lead UNC in rushing yardage but he also has
the most attempts. Coming into the year (and throughout the season as
well) Fedora has been non-committal about giving any one running back a
firm grasp on the starting role. Turns out, all he had to do was turn to
his 6-2, 215 quarterback for the yardage the offense needed.
Old Dominion isn't exactly a football powerhouse. In fact, Old
Dominion just recently turned the lights on for their football program
which is still under a decade old after a decades old hiatus.
Some teams might take a team like Old Dominion lightly if they didn't
know any better. But after a 55-31 drubbing at home from ECU earlier in
the year, the Tar Heels aren't likely to make that same mistake again
according to UNC coach Larry Fedora.
"I tell you what, it better be a lesson that was learned. This is one
thing we talk about as a team throughout the season. All of the mistakes
that we make during the season, and whether it be in a missed assignment
or a scheme, we are trying to -- we go back on Sundays and we try to
correct all of our mistakes that we made in a game," said Fedora. "And
then we talk about making sure that we are able to focus so that we
don't make that same mistake again. And so, yes, I hope that is a lesson
that this football team has learned, and if not, I'll be very, very
disappointed if we are not ready to play on Saturday. And again, that's
UNC is in a unique position of getting to watch Old Dominion on tape
against teams that they've already faced. Both ECU and Pittsburgh have
played the Monarchs, both teams that have played UNC as well.
Fedora believes that will hold an advantage come game day since they
can get a pretty accurate portrayal of Old Dominion's true strengths
"Yeah, it really is. That helps quite a bit. Not only that, it also
helps your players to understand that, hey, they just played this
opponent, so they know what this opponent is all about, and then you're
able to watch Old Dominion against that opponent and say, you know what,
hey, this is a good football team," said Fedora. "They are moving the
ball around on this team and they are doing what they want, and so that
helps. I think it helps in the focus for your football team. So, yeah,
it really is good to have that good crossover film. "
It's no secret that UNC started the season 1-5. At that moment when
they were walking off the field against Miami, after a heartbreaking
loss to a top-10 team on national television in primetime, UNC's players
had to make a decision.
They could either rally together or pack it up and play for next
season. They chose the former and haven't looked back since.
The NCAA expanded the regular season football schedule to 12 games in
2006. Since that moment, only five teams have made it to a bowl game
after starting with such a starting mark. Fedora made
Line: North Carolina by 17.5
November 23 Time: 12:00 pm Stadium:
Kenan Stadium (63,000) TV:
Regional Sports Network
THSN; SIRIUSXM (S 139,XM 195) Weather:Chapel
Hill Forecast Series: First Meeting Last Meeting: First Meeting
Old Dominion at a glance
Colors: Slate Blue,
Silver & Light Blue
S.B. Ballard Stadium (19,782)
GameDay Grass 3D
Conference USA 2012
Record: 11-1 (7-1 CAA) Head
Coach: Bob Wilder
(46-13 at ODU, 46-13 overall) Last Game: ODU beat Campbell, 42-14, on
November 16. Official Site |
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a point during his Wednesday press conference to pat his players on
the back for giving the kind effort they've given over the last few
I think first of all, that leadership comes from the staff and then
the leadership goes to the leaders on your team, and then the entire
team has to buy into it," said Fedora. "For us, it's earlier in the
year, so you could go a lot of different ways, and that's why I give
credit to the staff and those seniors and the leaders on this football
team, how they kept everybody together."
UNC had one of the most difficult schedules in the country through
their first six games and while the schedule isn't littered with top 10
opponents from here on out, UNC can't afford to pull the pedal of the
gas just yet. They have too much history on the line for that.