UNC vs. FSU
Oct. 22, 2009
Thursday Night Primetime in Chapel Hill
The day has come. The most important game of this season for the Tar Heels. Unfortunately, the game has lost some of its hype since I circled the date on the calendar. UNC was ranked at the beginning of the year, and even though FSU (2-4, 0-3 in ACC) was not ranked, the potential for the team remained high. Isn’t FSU the program that after entering the ACC in 1992, couldn’t lose in the conference?
On the other hand, this game has gained significance. Neither team is living up to expectations and should be diagnosed with bipolar syndrome. Pressure on 31-year Head Coach Bobby Bowden increases with each loss. UNC’s offense suffers from stagnation.
So which version of each team will show up?
FSU played a tough Miami (FL) team to the last play and destroyed nationally ranked and undefeated BYU, but only beat Jacksonville St. with last-second heroics and looked out of sorts in ACC play.
UNC began the year with significant offensive output against sub-par competition, but has struggled mightily against ACC opponents. The offensive unit now ranks third worst in FBS football in total offense.
One constant between these two teams is UNC’s dominating defense. Even accounting for more difficult ACC games, the stingy UNC defense tops the nation in pass defense, allowing only 125 yards through the air. The defense finally helped the offense with scoring in the last game against Georgia Southern.
· 6 total turnovers forced
· 2 returned for touchdowns
o 1 fumble recovery returned by Quan Sturdivant
o 1 interception returned by Bruce Carter
However, FSU leads the ACC with 426 yards of total offense per game. The battle between FSU’s offense and UNC’s defense should provide some excitement.
Players to watch for FSU:
Christian Ponder – QB #7
Ponder is a dual-threat junior quarterback with great physical tools and developing decision-making ability. He is a cerebral individual who earned an undergraduate degree in accounting in less than three years and is playing the best football of his career despite the team’s struggles.
147-217, 67.7% comp., 9 TD, 1 INT, 2 rush TD
Greg Reid – CB/KR #5
Reid is a true freshman who stands at only 5’9”. However, what he lacks in size and experience, he makes up for in speed and natural talent. His game-break ability could prove the difference.
14 tackles, 4 passes deflections, 2 INT, 1 INT return
9.5 yds per punt return, 22.8 yds per kick return
In the end, I am optimistic that UNC will not disappoint on its first home hosting of a Thursday night game in primetime on ESPN. FSU has some lingering issues surrounding the coaching situation that it will need to address before the program can return to national prominence.
I believe with the extra four days to game-plan and re-tool the offense, Coach Butch Davis will have the Tar Heels hungrier than ever. Though, I remember saying something like that before the Virginia game.
UNC 20, FSU 17