[The 7th 12 for 12 ... Offensive Line]
As we enter game week for North Carolina football here is my next installment of “12 for 12″, where I discuss the dozen persons/things that need to be good in order for the gridiron season to be a good one, no matter what the final record is. In this segment, the 8th of 12, I am going to focus on something that might be very obvious, but is going to play a major part in the inagural season for head coach Larry Fedora… momentum. With a new offense and defense, a decent looking schedule but no chance for the post season, how the team moves forward (or does not) is going to be truly critical not just for this year, but for the ones to come.
Most of the time when you speak of a Division I Football Championship Subdivision (formerly I-AA) like Elon, UNC’s first opponent, you might not really be thinking of a momentum builder. But with all the things that have gone on off the field in the past two years at Carolina, with a new regime, and with all wanting to move forward, this game is going to be extremely important for the school, the program and the team itself.
This Saturday the squad will be able to go full speed for the first time in their new offense and defense, while the coaches work out the kinks, see what works and what does not, and the head coach begins to tweak his playbook. All of this will be needed for the Tar Heels as their next two games will be on the road for Carolina.
As most of you have probably read on UNC’s official site, GoHeels.com, the game against Virginia Tech (sixth on the schedule) will be “white out” as the team will be wearing their white helmets and the school has made official white out t-shirts for this ACC match up. This game will be the third game in a row that Carolina will have played at home, as well as the fourth of the first six, this season. If coach Fedora and his staff want momentum to be working for them coming into this crucial game they need the team to be either with no losses or one at the most.
This means that besides taking care of Elon, North Carolina needs to take at least one of the two road games against Wake Forest and Louisville and then win both home match ups with in state rival East Carolina and then Idaho. Is this possible? Yes, but many things have to go the right way, such as the team suffers no major injuries, the offense can do as good as a lot of people expect it to, and that the defense can play above expectations in the new 4-2-5 scheme. And if the team can be at 4-1 coming into the sixth game of the season they will be looking at having a regular season record like they did last year as long as they can win half of their remaining games, which are Miami (Fl), Duke and Virginia on the road and N.C. State, Georgia Tech and Maryland on the road. But this squad can also be better than last season’s 7 and 6 record.
If we go by some of the power rankings out on the net North Carolina (sixth) is better than UVa (7th), Miami (Fl) (8th), Duke (9th), Wake (11th) and Maryland (12th) according to CBS Sports. Over at ESPN UNC is also sixth, and while the bottom half of the conference has the same name, the order is a lot different, going: Wake (7th), UVa (8th), Miami (9th), Duke (10th) and Maryland (12th). And over at ACC Sports Journal once again Carolina comes in at six, and the bottom has the same names, just a bit moved around: UVa (7th), Miami (Fl) (8th), Wake (9th), Duke (10th), Maryland (12th).
And while no one should fall in love with numbers on paper, since the games are won (or loss) on the field and nowhere else, the reality is that it seems that the three road games in the second half of the season for UNC are all against teams that as of right now many of the so called experts believe not to be as good as the Heels. N.C. State, which is ranked by all three of the above sites fifth, just above UNC, will be a home game for coach Fedora’s squad, and between the rivalry, the going ons off the field coming out of their fan base, this game will be a true test of the new regime. And since we are speaking of momentum, breaking the five game skid that they have against this squad would go a long way in showing that this program is going in the right direction. With the season ending once the dozen games are over the game against the Wolfpack could easily be seen by the Tar Heels as their bowl game, and a win by Carolina could derail N.C. State’s hope for a better than good season and a major bowl.
In the end momentum is going to be key for this squad who does not have anything to play for once the regular season is over. If they can come into the second part of the season with no more than two losses, preferably just one, they can easily have a shot at 9 wins this season, which would make this season a good one by anyone’s standard. As game day comes closer and closer make sure to come back often to isportsweb to read about North Carolina football news.