This Saturday is UNC’s ACC opener against the University of Virginia. To start the Tar Heels’ conference schedule, I have invited Eric from The Extrapolater, a Charlottesville resident and UVa fan, to help preview that game.
We’ll begin with Eric’s preview.
A man with a marvelous stadium, gorgeous campus, and beautiful coeds to use as bait should be able to reload, not rebuild. His program once boasted NFL-level talent like Matt Schaub, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, and Heath Miller, but now nobody seems to know who they are.
There is, of course, one exception. And that’s preseason first-team All-American Chris Long. He’s a beast on the defensive line, and generally plays a lot like dear old dad. Who’s that, you ask? None other than the Bradshaw-baiting legend Howie Long, who lives in the Charlottesville area. Long will no doubt be playing on Sundays next year himself, but the cupboard is pretty bare behind him.
If you’re thinking it’s too early to say that, consider this. UVA lost to Wyoming 23-3 to open the 2007 season, and very nearly let Duke creep back and win in Cville last weekend, which would have been humiliating on so many levels. They’re rotating quarterbacks, with Jameel Sewell and Peter Lalich shuttling in and out of games. None of this inspires confidence.
What does inspire confidence? There are two players who can reasonably be expected to take some pressure off of an ineffective signal-caller, and they are both up to the challenge. Tight end Tom Santi is the team’s leading reciever, with a paltry 58 yards but two touchdowns. Tailback Cedric Peerman rumbled for 137 yards and a TD in last week’s game.
The rest is a crapshoot, of course. Special Teams have been execrable – fans quake when they see the kicking team take the field. In one instance, a high snap into the end zone actually handed Duke two free points.
So take heart, UNC fans. Your team might be struggling, but so is your opponent. May the least ineffective team win!