We have a guest blogger for the big North Carolina game tomorrow. Jacob from Tareye or Buckheel was kind enough to give some insightful answers to the burning questions going into this showdown that will shape the ACC championship one way or another. Note the style of the North Carolina defense sounds familiar does it not?
1. It seems Hakeem Nicks hasn't missed a beat even though Brandon Tate is out for the season. How has UNC been able to still get Nicks the ball with almost certain double teams? Is another receiver taking the pressure off of Nicks?
Tareye or Buckheel: Carolina had great depth at receiver when the season began. Nicks and Tate were an excellent duo, and Brooks Foster provided that clutch third down receiving threat.
The Heels don't run sets with more than three wide receivers that often, so Nicks and Foster have both stepped up in Tate's absence. Nicks is an excellent route runner, which contributes to his receptions despite being double teamed. Foster could start for many teams, and the Heels haven't really missed much in receiving, besides the deep threat of Tate.
Offensive coordinator uses a lot of motion and isn't afraid of lining up receivers at different positions to create favorable matchups. Also, the receivers are well disciplined and run crisp routes.
2. Shaun Draughn and Ryan Houston seem to be the main rushing threats for North Carolina's offense. Could you give a quick scouting report on their different styles or abilities?
Draughn is a converted safety that is very similar in style to Greg Little, who was benched, except that Draughn turns up field quickly. Draughn has not demonstrated the ability to consistently get past the secondary, thus limiting him to short, quick chunks of yards. However, against Georgia Tech Draughn had a huge run that broke through the secondary.
Houston is the change-of-pace back that comes in for short yardage and goal line situations. Houston is humongous, but possesses deceptive speed. In my opinion, he has the better future at running back if he continues to slim down. Houston will not run around you, but instead will opt to run through you with a fullback's mentality.
3. North Carolina's defense has been great at forcing turnovers and has 18 interceptions this season (four of those for touchdowns). If UNC can force Maryland's Chris Turner into some mistakes who will probably be responsible on Carolina's defense?
Safety Trimane Goddard leads the nation with six interceptions through only nine games. Goddard has made some huge plays after interceptions, and his two picks against Miami led a late-game comeback.
The Heels rely on playing excellent coverage and using the front four to pressure the quarterback. Carolina's defensive tackles do most of the disputing with big Marvin Austin leading the way. Austin is huge, listed at 305 pounds, and gobbles running gaps up in addition to having the speed to rush the passer. If Austin is getting into the backfield, then Turner is likely to make a mistake.
4. How will North Carolina's defense try to attack Maryland's offense?
Defensive coordinator Withers plays a safe type of defense where the front four are called on to solely get pressure on the quarterbacks. I have seen Withers call blitzes, but they are mostly on running downs. The result of this defense is that Carolina tends to give up its fair share of yards, but a lack of patience from opponents leads to the high interceptions by the Heels.
This bend-but-don't-break mentality has gotten Carolina into trouble. Late in games Carolina has used a prevent style defense. Notre Dame and Miami had chances to win games late, but the Heels forced turnovers in both instances. Virginia won on a relatively easy touchdown drive after struggling to move the ball all game. Boston College scored two touchdowns against this defense. Bottom line--Heels fans are praying that we don't have to use this up by only a score.