I’m very optimistic about today’s game, but a lot needs to go right for Carolina to beat what appears to be a very good UConn team. Here are a few things, that, if UNC does well, would go a long way toward victory.
1. Stop Donald Brown. The nation’s leading rusher, Brown is the beginning and the end of this offense. With Brown, Connecicut’s rushing offense is ranked first in the Big East and ninth in the nation. Conversely, the passing game is ranked 107th in the nation. If Brown doesn’t have a big day, the Huskies will be in big trouble.
2. Establish the Run. Carolina’s offensive line started to control the line of scrimmage in their game against Miami, which allowed running backs to consistently get positive runs (if only 2-3 yards) and create manageable 3rd down situations. Cam Sexton stepped up in that game, but Ryan Houston’s performances on key down situations were just as important. I have no doubt that improved run production played a huge factor in the win.
3. Stop Donald Brown. Magnifying the emphasis to stop the run is the injury to starting QB Tyler Lorenzen. Zach Fraser, a talented but unproven transfer from Notre Dame, will be thrown into the fire in this game, and the Carolina defense must force him, not Brown, to try and win this game.
4. Keep It Up, Cam. Through his performance against Miami, Cam Sexton has proved that he belongs in major college football. The question now becomes whether he can repeat his success against a tough Husky secondary, led by future draft pick Darius Butler.
5. Stop Donald Brown. In addition, the Carolina front seven needs to control the line of scrimmage for four quarters. In spite of all that went wrong in the second half against Virginia Tech, the overriding factor was the fatigue of our front seven, which allowed the Hokies to run the ball late. We can ill afford for that to happen against a rushing offense as good as the Huskies.
6. No Unforced Errors. So far this season, UNC’s biggest weakness seems to be the team getting in its own way, whether by penalties, turnovers, and slipups on special teams. Of particular concern is turnovers. Carolina committed 4 turnovers against the Hokies, but only 1 in their three combined wins.
7. Stop Donald Brown. Have I mentioned that yet? Well, I want to say it again anyway.
And with that I’m off to the game.