A Quick Note: Return to Posting

Through a combination of factors (all related to my non-internet life) I haven’t been posting anything, but with football fast approaching the need to write has returned. This season has the potential to be either the most interesting UNC football season of my lifetime a trip to the Car Care Bowl against Cincinatti. Either way these are exciting times,and with less than two weeks until kickoff against LSU I have some catching up to do, so…let’s get to it.

ACC Roundtable: Undead of Chestnut Hill Edition

This week I decided to change things up a bit. Instead of answering From The Rumble Seat‘s questions directly, I will answer them with Freakazoid clips.

1. Alright fellas, this is your turn to apologize to the Boston College Eagles who went to Hell and back and have now arrived as the 3rd team for the ACC (and only team in the Atlantic) to be bowl eligible. You know you were snickering in the preseason. Also, give a high five to Mark Herzlich for finishing his last treatment of chemo.

I extend my congratulations in particular to Herzlich, who has made it through the toughest six months of his life, and Frank Spaziani, who took the least desirable situation in the ACC and may turn it into another division title. However, I am not entirely convinced that this is a real football team and not 85 zombies on scholarship. After burying them so many times, the press may have turned BC Football into the undead. Like Jack Valenti.

2. An Orange Bowl victory over a Boise/ TCU or an Orange Bowl victory over a Penn State/ Cincy team – which means more for the conference? Is there even a difference?

There is no difference whatsoever. No matter who the ACC Champion plays, America’s reaction to the 2010 Orange Bowl will be the following:

3. Enough with the CJ Spillers, the Christian Ponders, and the Jacory Harrises.  We wanna talk defense.  Who is the defensive POTY thus far in the ACC?

I’m inclined to be biased and give my nomination to Robert Quinn. UNC might have the best defense in the conference, about the only thing keeping us on the path to bowl eligibility. That’s in part because Quinn toys with offensive tackles the way Narwhals do with viking ships.

4. Recently, Bird compared the Atlantic to the Big 12 North. Is this a fair comparison?  The Coastal is currently 8-2 against the Atlantic.  There are still 8 interdivision games left.  Can the Atlantic redeem itself this season?

In all honesty, and with all due respect to the Chestnut Hill Undead All-Stars, there is only one way for the Atlantic division to redeem itself this year: Clemson needs to win the damn thing. It will bring 50,000 extra fans into Tampa for the Championship game and send the Dab-O-Meter into the red. If the title game becomes BC-Georgia Tech, then expect a crowd more sparse than our solar system.

5. Tailgating is essential to all things football. In Atlanta, the tailgating game of choice is cornhole. What is your game of choice to pass the time?

You mean everyone at Tech walks around the parking with their shirt over their head chugging Red Bull? Eh. Would make as much sense as anything else I’ve seen in Atlanta.

At any tailgate all activities must, in some form, be related to meat.

6. Let’s cut to the chase. There are two kinds of people: sheep and sharks. Sharks are winners and they don’t look back ’cause they don’t have necks. Necks are for sheep. Is your team full of sharks or is your team full of sheep?

Defense = Sharks

Offense = Cheese-Eating Surrender monkeys

7. Create a cocktail in the spirit of your school and explain it to us. Non-edible ingredients are allowed and encouraged.

It doesn’t matter what there is to drink. Just don’t drink with this guy.

Meet The Newbies! Josh Adams

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 Josh Adams, a man soon to become the preying mantis of the ACC. I have no idea what that metaphor means.

What We Know: 6’4″ Josh Adams enrolled early this past January, getting a head start on his true freshman peers. This decision has allowed him to move up the depth chart faster than other highly touted freshman like fellow WR Jheranie Boyd and top high school defensive end Donte Moss. (Mind you, Moss was the #1 DE in the nation when he signed, and the Heels are thinner at DE than at WR right now.) Adams had 1131 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns on just 56 catches his senior year in high school, averaging 20 yards per catch. (Detractors say those numbers were inflated by inferior opponents, but eh.) Adams’ first college football experience was spring practice, which makes him just as qualified as anyone else on this team to be a starting receiver.

What They’re Saying: As directed by the UNC Football Ministry of Propaganda, quarterback T. J. Yates has praised Adams as a dream in convenient wide receiver form:

“He’s one of the hardest working receivers I’ve been around. Especially for his young age. Coming right into school, he was 100 percent ball, all the time. He was watching film everyday, catching the ball. Even when he was hurt he was catching the ball, running routes, so his work ethic is really going to pay off for him. He’s definitely going to contribute for us. He’s got great hands, he runs really good routes, and he can go up there and make the catches guys aren’t supposed to, so he’s definitely going to make some plays for us.”

Until September 5th, no one outside of UNC’s practices has any way of substantiating this claim.

What We Can Expect: I don’t see him moving ahead of Greg Little or Dwight Jones into the starting lineup. However, Josh Adams seems to have established himself in spring practice as the #3 wide receiver for the Heels. If he stays there and plays well, he could put up Brooks Foster-type numbers this season: 25-35 catches and 300-450 yards. I have no idea if this will actually happen, but in UNC’s pro-style offense it’s a reasonable ceiling.

(Photo: IC)

Super Speedy UNC Spring Football Review

The offseason is a tremendous lull for most sports, but we Americans have found out that if you poke at football long enough during hibernation, you can find something to talk about. So let’s all grab a stick, shall we?

Players Who Should Get You Really, Really Excited for September

WR Dwight Jones: Will burning the redshirt last November pay off? For the moment, the answer is yes. Jones, the man in the center of that practice photo, has developed rapidly since the 2008 season, and while he certainly hasn’t reached Hakeem Nicks-levels of route running, he doesn’t have to. The projected top 3 receivers (Jones, Greg Little and Josh Adams/Rashad Mason) are all 6’4″ or taller, leaving  T.J. Yates with the ideal “throw it up and see if they catch it” scenario when things go wrong. If it brought down the undefeated Patriots, it can bring down Virginia Tech, right?

TB Jamal Womble: Aside from the spring game, very little is known about Womble except for all the records that he broke in high school. The Spring Game has proven to be an unreliable data set, but it seems apparent that Womble will get a lot of carries this season. He’s has speed and strength, but most importantly he has vision. He seems to have a keen eye for which alleys to attack at the line and in the secondary. With less than 10 carries in an exhibition game, he has shown more vision and elusiveness than Draughn and Houston showed last season.  Unlike Draughn and Houston, Womble will also be an effective receiver out of the backfield. Having lost the top three receivers from 2008 and looking for T.J. Yates to stay healthy, UNC will need to bolster its backfield production in 2009. Jamal Womble looks like he can make an immediate impact.

LB Zach Brown: Bruce Carter and HIS HIGHNESS QUANTAVIUS have established themselves as two of the most athletic linebackers in the ACC. Zach is faster than both of them. Whether that translates to pure defensive awesomeness is yet to be seen, but Everett Withers would be hard-pressed to find a better college linebacking corps to suit his Cover 2-esque scheme.

Really Tall Punter Guy: I don’t remember this guy’s name, but he’s the tallest player on the team, he wore #39 at the spring game, and he has a cannon for a leg. He punted three or four times, and each of them went for about 60 yards and had tremendous hangtime.

Players Who You Really Hope Made the Most of the Offseason

CB Jordan Hemby: Kendric Burney is a lockdown corner, but Hemby is still a projected starter by his side. This should concern you because his play in 2008 was, to put it diplomatically, enigmatic and inconsistent.

SS Da’Norris Searcy: Trimane Goddard left some pretty big shoes to fill. Searcy is talented, and he displayed flashes of brilliance against West Virginia in the bowl game. Still, it’s yet to be seen how easily he can fill Goddard’s role.

Defensive-End-By-Committee: It’s close to certain that Robert Quinn will spearhead one side of the line, but the other side looks to be a revolving door of inconsistent veterans and talented but inexperienced freshmen.

The Offensive Line: The offensive line kept some stability from 2008, but the absences of Garrett Reynolds (graduation/NFL) and Aaron Stahl (foregoing last year of eligibility due to injury) will be felt.

WR Greg Little: Greg goes back to his natural position this season as the most experienced receiver on the team and, perhaps ironically, the non-QB best acquainted with John Shoop’s playbook. Fans are beginiing to wonder if he will justify the hype surrounding his arrival in Chapel Hill. This is the year where he will either silecne the critics or prove them right. I think he’ll do well, but the jury is out for now.

T.J. Yates’ Health: Wolfpack Fans, if I don’t see frisbees on the field at Carter-Finley this November, I will be severely disappointed in you.

Am I being a bit opitmistic here? Probably. But the summer is the time for optimism, a time for anticipating what’s to come. Grumbling, cynicism and reduction of expectaion should wait, at least, until UConn scores on a devastating 90-yard drive in the third quarter. Until then RESERVE THE HOTEL TO MIAMI WERE GOING 11-1 OMG WHOOOOOO!!!

Photos: The venerable Inside Carolina.

HeelTube: The Last Time UNC and West Virginia Met…

…it was the 1997 Gator Bowl. Dre’ Bly took only one year to become one of the great corners in UNC history. His freshman season was bonkers, and he continued his stellar play that year with two of his 13 interceptions against the Mountaineers. Oscar Davenport also had a good game, throwing a touchdown pass and running for another. Carolina eventually won the game 20-13, capping their best season in more than a decade. 2008 has been easily the Heels’ best season since 1997, and in the Car Care Bowl they face none other than the Mountaineers. Freaky.

Much more posting about UNC’s bowl opponent will come in the next two weeks.

UNC vs. Michigan State Live Blog

I’ll be over at Storming The Floor to cover tonight’s game, which may of may not be Tyler-free (much to Michigan State’s apparent disappointment). See you there at 9pm.

Carolina is 8-4. WHOOOOOOO

Considering where we were two years ago, this is a very, very big deal. This not lost on most Heels fans; if 41-10 freaked you out and took your mind off of the big picture for a while, you’re forgiven. Just as long as you also remember 44-12, 38-12, 45-24 and 28-7 with equal intensity. Carolina has had the most regular season wins and the fewest losses since 1997, and the greatest improvement in wins since 1990.

Back in August I said I would be elated with anything above 7-5. As disappointing as the losses may have been for their own reasons, this team has made vast improvements from 2007, and as the stats show, they have been overachieving this season.

What is more impressive about the Heels the season is that they have won without much of the offensive starting lineup from August (Little, Yates, Tate, Pianalto, and two offensive linemen) for most of the season.

It is very, very important not to underestimate the level to which this team has surprised and overachieved. If you had told any fan that the Heels would win most of their games with Cam Sexton at Quarterback and Shaun Draughn and Ryan Houston at tailback, that fan would have slapped you to knock the crazy out of you. And then they would have slapped you again for saying something so blasphemous. And then, just for good measure, he would have kicked you in the nuts thinking that you were a Wolfpack fan trying to trick him and probably deserved some testicular trauma. And then you would follow him to his car, write down his license plate,find out his real name, call that lawyer in Raleigh who was played by Tom Cruise in that movie, and win a $700,000 lawsuit. And the aforementioned fan would be asking God why He would allow this to happen while you get on the phone inquiring about a beach house. And then that fan would realize that the Judge’s gavel is an ice cream cone, the defendant’s chair is a thigh drawn by Salvador Dali, and outside the Courthouse Godzilla is giving kids piggy back rides for beer money. And then he will realize that this is all a dream, and no one would be so stupid as to tell him that UNC would be led to a winning season by Cam Sexton and Shaun Draughn. That is how unlikely this season’s success has been. That is how far ahead of schedule we are. That is how much UNC Football has changed in two years.

That is not to say that this season has been without its share of warts. As talented as the starting lineup is, UNC still does not have a deep enough team to avoid in-season fatigue, and it showed this November. The offense stagnated, and the defense spent way too much time on the field. And as exciting as it was to we the defense force so many turnovers, it was equally frustrating to watch the entire team struggle when the Heels didn’t win the turnover battle. UNC committed 21 turnovers on the year, of which 15 were relinquished in their four losses to only 3 turnovers forced. And the apparent allergy to blitzes hurt the Heels on many occasions, most notably the Withers Special against Virginia.

But there is much to look forward to. In all likelihood UNC can do no worse than the Music City Bowl (where, insanely enough, 2007 Champion LSU is a likely opponent). Butch Davis can stop talking about other jobs (at least until Tommy Tuberville leaves Auburn in 2009) and is poised to bring in another top recruiting class. Although you can say this about every other team I’m the Coastal division, this will be a much better team in 2009.

So how to assess 2008? Hopefully, we will look back on this season as the start of something great. The year that UNCbecomes not only a good team, but a good program.