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November 20, 2013

ODU-UNC Capsule

Football Preview

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.

Marquise Williams

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

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 my responsibility."

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 through cross-examination.

"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. "

Complete Turnaround

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

Old Dominion

North Carolina

ACC Standings
Game Day
Line: North Carolina by 17.5
Date: Saturday, November 23
Time: 12:00 pm
Stadium: Kenan Stadium (63,000)

TV: Regional Sports Network
(S 139,XM 195)
Weather: Chapel Hill Forecast
Series: First Meeting
Last Meeting: First Meeting

Old Dominion at a glance
Location: Norfolk, Va.
Nickname: Monarchs
Colors: Slate Blue, Silver & Light Blue
Stadium: S.B. Ballard Stadium (19,782)
Surface: Astroturf GameDay Grass 3D
Conference: 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 | Rivals Site
Roster | Schedule | Stats

Old Dominion Leaders
Passing: Taylor Heinicke
(326-455, 3892 yds, 32 TD)

Rushing: Colby Goodwyn
(94 carries, 426 yds, 4.5 avg, 11 TD)

Receiving: Larry Pinkard
(65 rec, 972 yds, 15.0 avg, 9 TD)

Old Dominion Rankings
Passing: 378.8 YPG (-)
Rushing: 153.6 YPG (-)
Point For: 44.4 PPG (-)
Points Against: 29.8 PPG (-)

North Carolina Leaders
Passing: Marquise Williams
(70-121, 895 yds, 8 TD)
Rushing: Marquise Williams
(81 carries, 326 yds, 4.0 avg, 4 TD)
Receiving: Eric Ebron
(49 rec, 763 yds, 15.6 avg, 3 TD)

North Carolina Rankings
Passing: 280.3 YPG (27th)
Rushing: 121.7 YPG (108th)
Point For: 28.1 PPG (71st)
Points Against: 25.4 PPG (56th)

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 weeks.

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.

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