On Preseason Expectations and…Such.

I’m an optimist. I believe that, no matter how much civilization will try to screw things up, it will always prevail. If a nuclear winter hits, my first thought will be “Is my family okay?” and my second will be “at least we’re rid of that damn kudzu infestation”. I find it a waste of time to dwell on glass-half-empty emotions.

And yet, even I wonder of the hyperbole surrounding the 2009 Heels football team may be a bit much.

UNC ranked #20 in the AP Poll: WHOOOOOOOO!!! I was wondering if we’d make the poll. 16-25 is where most of the “speculation” teams go, and I think we’re one of the better speculative teams out there. So yeah, fair enough.

UNC ranked #16 on the NBC Sports Poll: Okay, now we’re pushing it. If you’re basing your poll on on our schedule and what our record might look like in December, then okay. But if you think that the Heels are the 16th best team out there…I just don’t see it. There are too many questions, and we won;t have enough answers until at least September 26th when UNC visits Atlanta.

Shaun Draughn on the Doak Walker Award Watch List: WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATTTTTTT

now, this isn’t to say that Shaun Draughn isn’t a good back: he is. Nor is it to say that the Doak Walker people shouldn’t cover as many bases as possible (although why do they need a list this early?). But this is a bit much. I only see three backs getting Award-type numbers: Jonathan Dwyer, C.J. Spiller, and Darren Evans. Those players have one benefit in common: the offense is geared specifically to them, or any player in the same position. UNC runs a pro-style offense, which places more emphasis on the pass that Georgia Tech or Virginia Tech will for an entire season. Also none of these players have competition at the position. Ryan Houston will take quite a few carries, including short yardage touchdowns. Adding Jamal Womble into the RB mix could shrink Draughn’s numbers even further. Even if Draughn plays exceptionally well under this system, the offense that Butch Davis and John Shoop want to run will prevent him from getting the gaudy numbers he needs to win the award.

To put it simply: it’s not gonna happen. (Of course, I’m not sure a Tar Heel wants to receive anything bearing Doak Walker’s name; CHOO CHOOWUZ ROBBED !!!)

I’m a huge fan of outlandish expectations; I dream of an 11-1 season in 2009, even though the back of my mind tells me that dream will be crushed by October 30th. It’s just that after 9 years under the Iron Mustache Curtain (dear leaders Torbush and Bunting), I don’t expect outsiders to be every bit as pie-in-the-sky about Carolina football as I am. In an Allegory of the Cave sort of way, it’s shocking. But hey, I’m out into the light and there’s a beautiful hillside waiting for me ahead.

Until the storms come in couple of months, of course.

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Meet The Newbies! Jamal Womble

Football Season: It’s creeping up a lot faster than you think. It makes no sense to cover the important players you already know. That’s the MSM’s job. Instead, let’s talk about the players with whom you may be less familiar: The players who will get significant PT for the first time. Today, we look at Jamal Womble, a redshirt freshman and the tiniest fully functional bulldozer in America. (Because there’s always smaller in Japan.)

What We Know: He set both school and Arizona state rushing records while in high school at Buena Vista. Let’s go to the video tape:

As you can see, his skills are…impressive. In the Spring game Womble ran exactly like he did in high school, except everyone was 30-60 pounds heavier and ran 40s of between 4.3 and 4.9. Shockingly, he was not quite as effective. Still he gave Heels fans a glimpse into the future. And the future is good.

We also know that since arriving on campus he has bulked up so much it would make Hans and Franz feel like Kip Dynamite.

What’s In the Way: Not so much what as who. Shaun Draughn and Ryan Houston took the bulk of the carries for Carolina last season, Draughn as the everydown back and Houston as the short yardage/goalline back. That means Womble is most likely to see playing time as a 3rd down or long yardage back, or in the 4th quarter of a blowout.

What We Can Expect: Womble will likely cut his teeth catching backfield passes and getting carries in garbage time. Draughn and Houston played well last season, but UNC’s run offense was still in the bottom half of Division I FBS. If Womble finds his way into significant playing time, expect that to change. It could happen one of many ways. IF:

  • Womble destroys the front seven of the Citadel and/or Georgia Southern;
  • someone pulls a hamstring;
  • Ryan Houston is distracted by a Krispy Kreme truck;
  • Shaun Draughn uses too much Vaseline on his jersey; or
  • T.J. Yates and Mike Paulus decide to take up extreme discus (which is exactly like regular discus, but with LAND MINES and NINJAS!!!);

discusninjas

Then, in the words of Mel Brooks in Blazing Saddles, “You watch your ass.”