North Carolina Tar Heels vs San Diego State Aztecs Preview


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The North Carolina Tar Heels had one of those openers that coaches dread, for at least a half. Their bad luck became good luck and they had a blowout on their hands. Now the San Diego State Aztecs come to town and bring a step up in competition, hailing from the competitive Mountain West Conference. The Tar Heels will at least be bringing their first line corners, back from suspension. That also means we can see what Tim Scott actually looks like as a safety. Better ball control will have to be the word of the day to beat the Aztecs.

Date: September 6

August 24, 2014; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers offensive assistant Ronald Curry during the third quarter against the San Diego Chargers at Levi

Time: 8:00 PM


Venue: Kenan Memorial Stadium

Last Time: 1998- Las Vegas Bowl: Tar Heels 20 Aztecs 13

The Carl Torbush era probably does not have too many lessons for the current Fedora version Tar Heels, but the 1998 Las Vegas Bowl was a fun game to watch. Super strong winds played with punts and kicks. The big star for the Heels was freshman quarterback Ronald Curry, who made a 48 yard touchdown score on the ground and seemed to increase speed as he went.

Opponent: San Diego State Aztecs

Coach Rocky Long was not patrolling the sidelines back then, but he is now. He has a senior quarterback in Quinn Kaelher, fresh off a 3,000 yard campaign from a year ago. He also returns his best receiver Ezell Ruffin. Look for them to test the rust on Brian Walker and Dez Lawrence of the Heels, particularly if there is no pressure. Pressure should be a possibility, with a rather inexperienced offensive line for the Aztecs.

Dec 21, 2013; Boise, ID, USA; San Diego State Aztecs quarterback Quinn Kaehler (18) throws a pass during the first half of the Idaho Potato Bowl verses the Buffalo Bulls at Bronco Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

On defense, the Aztecs utilize a 3-3-5 set. This allows them to defend against the spread offenses of today’s college football teams and also take advantage of their wealth of linebackers. It also provides that Tar Heels with an opportunity to run it up the gut. Given the first outing of Elijah Hood, that seems like a distinct possibility.

The 3-3-5 set will also require Marquise Williams to be patient on pass plays. Chances are there will be a linebacker spy on him in situations where he might run. A 4-2-5 team might not be able to do that, but a 3-3-5 has enough linebackers to figure it out. Keeping the ball and preventing turnovers should still be the first focus.

Prediction: 30-20 Tar Heels
ONJ Record: 4-0

San Diego State just does not have enough offense to match the Tar Heels. The Heels will get out to an early lead and then just use the running game to play keep away until the game is over. If neither defense decides to show up then you can increase both scores by ten points. Of course this assumes the Tar Heels take care of the ball.

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