It is finally here, the third and final part in my breakdown of the Tar Heels season. This last part of the season will be easier for the Heels than the second part was, and my prediction for the Heels is very good.
Duke: Nov. 7 at Chapel Hill
A Duke vs. Carolina game is always exciting even in football. It is hard to tell whether or not Duke will be up to the challenge this year, but one thing is for sure Duke is very much improved this year.
Coach David Cutcliffe who is in his second season with the Blue Devils has gotten them on the right track. We will have to see whether or not the team will produce.
The star on offense will be senior quarterback Thaddeus Lewis who will be one of the better quarterbacks in the ACC this season.
He threw for 2,171 yards and 15 touchdowns last season, but 693 of those yards went to Eron Riley who went to the NFL. He still has some good receivers, but nobody as good as Riley.
The Blue Devils running attack will have Re’quan Boyette back after missing 2008, but it has yet to be determined how good he will be.
A big question for Cutcliffe this year will be whether or not his defense will perform. The defense is not very deep, and it has several holes in it.
The defensive line is the strong part of their offense with DT Vince Oghobaase anchoring it.
The glaring weakness is the secondary. If UNC can find some receivers to step up, they can get some big yardage off of the secondary.
The UNC running game should be able to exploit Duke’s defense. Draughn will be the key to UNC taking control of this game.
I predict UNC to win this game, but Duke will give them a battle. Duke will have a few wins this year including some upsets, but they will not upset the Tar Heels this season.
Miami: Nov. 14 at Chapel Hill
Miami, yet another Coastal foe, will present Butch Davis with a challenge, but this will be another home game for the Heels.
There is no doubt that this will be a very good game. Miami has some very good players on offense and on defense.
On offense, Miami has finally solved the quarterback situation and Jacory Harris will be the starter. He threw for 1,195 yards and 12 touchdowns while splitting time with Robert Marve. Harris is looking like he could be a star, and Miami will be in good hands with Harris at the helm.
Miami has two very good running backs in Craig Cooper and Javarris James. Craig Cooper has the potential to be a star, but he recently suffered an injury that may or may not affect him the rest of the season. Expect the Miami running game to be very good.
The receivers are very talented, but also very young. UNC’s backfield will have to keep them in check.
On defense, former UNC special teams’ coordinator John Lovett will be coaching a talented group. Miami is in a similar situation as Duke. They will struggle against the run and will also have an inexperienced secondary.
As in the Duke game, Draughn must also perform big in this game. He needs to have two big games in a row.
With the defense containing a good Miami offense, and the offense getting big plays out of the receivers, UNC will win this game. I expect a very close game, but the Heels get the edge since the game is played in Chapel Hill.
Boston College: Nov. 21 at Chestnut Hill
After two straight home games, the Heels will have to go to Massachusetts. I do not expect a Boston Massacre here though; the Heels should take care of a depleted Eagles team.
Coach Frank Spaziani has an uphill to climb in his first year. He lost a lot of talent, and still has to decide who his quarterback will be.
Boston College has no experience at quarterback, and this will be a problem for BC all year.
At running back, they have some experience and talent in sophomores Montel Harris and Josh Haden. The running game will have its ups and downs, but it will not be their biggest concern as that is quarterback.
The Eagles only return six starters on offense and six more on defense. They have many positions to fill, and will have to find players to do that.
As in the last two games, Draughn will play a huge role in beating Boston College. Coach Spaziani has holes up the middle that he will have to fill to beat UNC.
The Eagles defensive backs are good, and will limit the Heels young receivers.
This may be a tougher game than some expect, but the Heels should prove better than the Eagles and win this one in big fashion.
NC State: Nov. 28 at Raleigh
If my predictions hold true, the Heels will be riding a three-game winning streak going into Raleigh.
This will be one of the most anticipated games for the Heels after the embarrassing defeat they had last year against their rivals. It is also the last game of the season, and both teams will be looking to get in a bowl game.
The unquestionable star for North Carolina State is quarterback Russell Wilson. Just a sophomore, Wilson will have a stellar season, and much riding on his shoulders.
He threw for almost 2,000 yards and 18 touchdowns last season, and anything less in 2009 will be a disappointment.
What else does NC State have?
They have a solid runner in Jamelle Eugene. He will be the starter, but has experienced injuries in the past so expect the backups to be ready.
All of Coach Tom O’Brien’s receivers return. They will need more production out of this group this year, and expect them to get plenty of catch opportunities from Russell Wilson.
The Wolfpack defense returns seven players, but it is a team that the Heels can hurt with the pass.
The UNC defense will be able to get pressure on Wilson this season. If they can do that the Tar Heels will be able to shut the State offense down.
This will be another tough road game, but I expect the Heels to win this one against their rivals.
As I conclude this series, let may say that it is possible that UNC beat either Florida State or Virginia Tech and then loses one of these last four games.
The most likely possibilities would be NC State or Miami. I do believe the Heels will go 9-3 and make a decent bowl game.
At any rate, the Heels are prepared for a great season, and now Tar Heel fans just have to wait until Sept. 5 to get the season started.