The San Diego State Aztecs and North Carolina Tar Heels play on Saturday night. In order to get you ready for the game, we talked to John Bauman, the editor of Keeping It Heel. Their blog covers the University of North Carolina for the FanSided Network. San Diego Sports Domination’s questions are in bold and John’s answers are right below!
1) What about the Aztecs concerns the UNC the most?
The biggest aspect of the San Diego State football team that will concern UNC the most is the strength of the SDSU rushing attack. Donnel Pumphery ran for 111 yards and two touchdowns last week against Northern Arizona and averaged six yards a carry last year as a freshman. North Carolina’s run defense was good but not great against Liberty, as the Flames averaged 3.8 yards per carry and gained 166 yards on the ground. Pumphery will give the Tar Heel run defense a good challenge on Saturday.
2) What is the strength UNC’s offense?
The strength of UNC’s offense lies with all the skill players they have accumulated heading into the third season of the Larry Fedora era. The North Carolina Tar Heels have lots of talent at running back and wide receiver, starting with Ryan Switzer in the slot. Switzer is an excellent punt returner but has yet to realize his high ceiling in the passing game. North Carolina is trying to get him the ball early and often to try and utilize his talents. Also at wide receiver, keep an eye out for Quinshad Davis, Mack Hollins and Bug Howard. At running back, UNC has four good options out of the backfield that all played well on Saturday against Liberty. Elijah Hood ran a guy over, T.J. Logan looked like a healthy T.J. Logan and Romar Morris and Khris Francis filled in. In all, the strength of the UNC offense is the athletes and weapons that they have at skill positions.
3) What is the strength of UNC’s defense?
The strength of the UNC defense is probably the secondary, which is still unproven considering that the Tar Heels didn’t have most of their starting secondary in the first game against Liberty due to the suspension of four players for a violation of team policy. Brian Walker, Des Lawrence, Donnie Miles and M.J. Stewart will all be back against SDSU, making that unit a position of strength for the Tar Heels.
The other strength of the defense would be the linebacking core, notably Travis Hughes and Jeff Schoettmer. Schoettmer and Hughes combined for 11 tackles on Saturday and will be asked to control the powerful SDSU running attack on Saturday night.
4) How strong is the UNC Defensive Line?
The North Carolina defensive line is a point of weakness for the team. The Tar Heels recorded just one sack against Liberty, which isn’t quite enough for a game against a far inferior opponent. The Tar Heels need to fight a way to generate a pass rush against the Aztecs. Look for Norkeithus Otis, Justin Thomason and Jessie Rodgers on Saturday night to see what impact they make.
5) What are the strengths and weaknesses of UNC?
North Carolina’s strengths lie at the quarterback and running back positions. Marquise Williams filled in well for injured Bryn Renner last season, giving the Tar Heels a solid option to turn to at quarterback. Mitch Trubisky lurks as a potential candidate to eventually overtake Marquise, and Coach Fedora hasn’t yet tipped his hat to who the starting quarterback will be between the two. But to have two solid options at quarterback is a major strength heading into fall practice. At the running back position, UNC has four legitimate options to turn to. T.J. Logan came on strong at the end of last season, Romar Morris is a speedster, Elijah Hood is the most talented of any of the four and Khris Francis is a swiss-army knife type guy who can catch passes and block really well. Those four guys give the Heels a lot of options at running back and make it the deepest position on the team.
Weaknesses are that UNC has to replace a lot of talented guys on both sides of the ball. Gone are Kareem Martin, Tre Boston, Russell Bodine, James Hurst and Eric Ebron, all to the NFL. North Carolina has to figure out in fall practice who is going to step up on the offensive line to replace Bodine and Hurst, who is going to replace the production of Eric Ebron and who is going to generate a pass rush now that Kareem Martin is gone.
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