The North Carolina Tar Heels aren't coming into this college football season off a particularly great 2011 year, but then again neither is Week 1 opponent Elon.
The Phoenix had a rough go in the Southern Conference last year, going 5-6 with notable losses to Vanderbilt and in-conference foe Appalachian State.
UNC head into this college football season off a six-loss season as well, falling to the likes of N.C. State, Miami and Georgia Tech.
The Tar Heels have a new head coach in Larry Fedora, who inherits quality offensive weapons like quarterback Bryn Renner and running back Giovani Bernard. Both of those players should get multiple opportunities to show off their skills in this Week 1 bout with Elon.
Here's everything you need to know about this clash between the Phoenix and the Tar Heels.
When: Saturday, Sept. 1 at 12:30 p.m. ET
Where: Kenan Memorial Stadium, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Watch: ACC Network
Live Stream: ESPN3.com
Listen: WPCM 920 AM or GoHeels.com
What They're Saying
Elon head coach Jason Swepson understands his team isn't the favorite of the two North Carolina squads to win this contest, telling Bob Sutton of the Burlington News Times "I think we have a good enough team to get it to the fourth quarter. The bottom line is: Can we last?"
Meanwhile, Fedora told Ran Northam of Chapelboro that his team is just itching to play somebody besides themselves; explaining:
They’re really tired of practicing against each other. They’re tired of going full speed but not being able to hit. They’re trying to take care of their teammates...There’s a lot of frustration on their part and on the coaches’ part, so it’s getting interesting.
Both coaches seem ready to get onto the gridiron and start their teams' new college football season.
Elon Player to Watch: QB Thomas Wilson
Wilson will be looking to continue the success he saw in 2011 where he completed nearly 70 percent of his passes, over 3,000 passing yards and 23 touchdowns for the Phoenix. The one aspect of his game Wilson must change starting Week 1 against UNC is the interceptions.
Wilson threw 21 interceptions last year, and considering this is his final season with Elon, he will be looking to end his college career on a high note. The Tar Heels defensive backs will be trying to keep the interception woes going for the starting QB in this contest.
North Carolina Player to Watch: Giovani Bernard
Bernard was one of the highlights for the Tar Heels last year, when he rushed for a school-record 1,253 yards which earned him first-team All-ACC honors.
While the Tar Heels have a solid quarterback to throw the football, the team did lose top receiver Dwight Jones to the NFL. For this reason, there's a chance the coaching staff chooses to rely on the ground attack early and often in this game.
Bernard should have no troubles dominating this Elon defense and racking up some quality yardage for his team in the process.
Prediction: Tar Heels 42, Phoenix 21
UNC are going to win this contest, it's just a question of by how much. The team's offense will just be too much for the Phoenix to handle Week 1, and should coast easily to its first victory of 2012.
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