Part II is here as I break down the Tar Heels 2009 football season. In this part, I will break down games five through eight of this important year in UNC football.
After a predicted 3-1 start, the Heels play two fairly easy games that should include their first ACC win, and then they have to play the toughest two games of the season.
A fairly confident Tar Heel team will start October in Chapel Hill taking on the Virginia Cavaliers.
Virginia Cavaliers—Oct. 3 at Chapel Hill
If the Heels do lose to Georgia Tech, they will be hungry for a win and more importantly, their first ACC win.
They will face a Virginia team that lost much talent, and eleven starters: six on offense, and five on defense. That many starters would be hard for anybody to replace.
Al Groh will have his work cut out for him this season. He has Jameel Sewell returning to quarterback after missing 2008, but it is questionable whether he or Vic Hall, a cornerback for part of his time at UVA, will start.
The best word to describe the stats the Virginia quarterbacks put up last year is horrid. Marc Verica threw 16 interceptions to just eight touchdowns, and Peter Lalich threw three interception and no touchdowns.
Neither Sewell nor Hall should be as bad as the quarterback situation last year, but I would not expect a lot of production from the quarterback position.
Running back is also a hard position to predict for Virginia, and on top of that, they lost their top three receivers—putting them in a similar predicament to North Carolina.
The North Carolina defense should be able to shut down this Cavalier offense that;s full of question marks about starters at very important positions.
The Virginia defense will be better than their offense, but they lost three good linebackers that will need to be replaced.
One plus for Virginia is their very good secondary which will be able to limit the catches UNC’s inexperienced receivers will have. On the other hand, this could open the door up for Shaun Draughn to show what he can do.
My prediction is that this will be an easy win for the Heels at home, and give them their first ACC win.
Georgia Southern—Oct. 10 at Chapel Hill
Georgia Southern is another FCS team the Heels have scheduled this year. Unless this turns into an Appalachian State vs. Michigan game, the Heels should easily handle this team.
Quarterback Lee Chapple returns after throwing for 787 yards and five touchdowns last season when he took over the starting job. Six more starters return on offense, including receiver Leander Barney (209 yards receiving) and running back Adam Urbano (304 rushing yards).
The Eagles return seven starters of a shaky defense from last year. They have some good young defensive players, and are expected to be good in the future.
Georgia Southern will have a good season in the Southern Conference, but UNC will handily take care of them in this game.
Florida State—Oct. 22 at Chapel Hill
Next on the schedule is a storied Florida State program that has struggled the last few years, but looks to be back on track. FSU is predicted by most preseason sources to win the Atlantic Division of the ACC.
This will be the first game in tough back—to—back weeks for the Heels.
Bobby Bowden’s Seminoles will be tough this season, with returning quarterback Christian Ponder (2,006 YDs, 14 TDs, and 13 INTs in 2008). Ponder has lost two of his top receivers, but he has more talent that will be lining up in the receiver positions.
The passing game will be good, but the most promise is in the running game. Sophomore Jermaine Thomas is expected to have a stellar year after accumulating 482 yards rushing as a freshman.
The key to this FSU vs. UNC matchup will be the defense, and the best defense will win this game.
Senior linebacker Dakoda Watson is poised to be the leader of this FSU defense that only returns three starters.
The Seminole defense will be still good, even without a lot of returning starters, because they still have many upperclassmen and players with game experience.
At cornerback, they have a very good NFL prospect in Patrick Robinson, and he will make it tough to get much going in the passing game.
Will UNC be able to shut down all of the Seminoles attacks? It is tough to tell. Bobby Bowden’s offense could be very good, or it may struggle again.
This is a very tough game to make a prediction on. These teams seem to match up so well. Both have offenses that nobody is sure about, and defenses that could be very good; however, the Heels have more returning starters on defense.
This game will be played in Chapel Hill, and by this time expectations will be high with Kenan Stadium packed out. If T.J. Yates can find chemistry with his young receivers by this time of year, and if UNC’s defense plays up to expectations, they will win this game.
If not, Florida State will win. My early prediction would have to be a Florida State victory.
Virginia Tech—Oct. 29 in Blacksburg
For the last game in this series, North Carolina faces their toughest opponent of the season at their home place that is sure to be rocking.
I expect the Hokies to be thinking about a BCS bowl by this time, and to be ready to play.
Junior Tyrod Taylor will lead the offense after throwing for 1,036 yards last season. Taylor will step up and be a star this year. (For more on Taylor, check out this article.)
The running game took a big hit when starter Darren Evans went down with a season-ending injury. While nobody can replace somebody like Evans, the Hokies still have plenty of firepower at running back. Josh Oglesby, Ryan Williams, and David Wilson will see plenty of playing time.
Virginia Tech is still inexperienced at receiver, but still has plenty of talent there.
The defense will be good as always. They return seven starters and much talent. DE Jason Worilds will have to be stopped, or else T.J. Yates will have a terrible day.
Frank Beamer will have his team ready, and with his awesome defense and good offense, he will beat UNC—effectively winning the Coastal Division.
The middle part of the season includes the two hardest games of the season for the Heels. They could easily lose two games or win three games. How well the Heels play against Florida State and Virginia Tech will let the rest of the country know how good they are.
At any rate, it will be important that they do not get discouraged, and go into the next four games—that are all ACC action—very confident and ready to play.