North Carolina Tar Heels vs South Carolina Gamecocks Preview


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The North Carolina Tar Heels have the honor of playing the first game of the college football season. They will be doing in Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte against the regional rival South Carolina Gamecocks. Both teams come into this matchup with questions to answer about their teams, and they will likely get those answers whether they want them or not.

Date: September 3
Time: 6:00 PM
Venue: Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte, NC)

Last Time: 2013

The most exciting thing about the North Carolina-South Carolina matchup that started the 2013 season was the weather. The game experienced delays due to lightning. The Gamecocks won comfortably 27-10, but there were good signs of effort from the Tar Heels that would be needed later in the season when Bryn Renner went down. My biggest memory of this game was how ineffective Jadaveon Clowney was against left tackle James Hurst.

Opponent: South Carolina Gamecocks (0-0)

Coach Steve Spurrier believes that this one of those games that could be played every year if possible. Spurrier has done his fair share of recruiting the Charlotte area and the backyard of the Tar Heels since he has been at Columbia. He knows a game like this could shift the balance between where coveted recruits go.

Spurrier may also have special feelings about beating the Tar Heels because they were the big rival when Spurrier was at Duke in the late eighties. Spurrier generally loves to poke at his rivals and that may be the case here.

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  • Offensively, the Gamecocks will be looking to get the ball to Pharoh Cooper, their star wideout. Ideally they would test the new North Carolina front line with their running back group and throw to Cooper in play action situations. However if they need to, they have run sets where Cooper run the ball. There is even a set where Cooper lines up as the wildcat quarterback.

    Redshirt Connor Mitch is the resident starter at quarterback, replacing departed Dylan Thompson. Mitch is kind of an unknown. That means that the Gamecocks might be even more ground conscious than normal. It also means that the Tar Heels need to get some pressure on him to see what he will do in those situations. A turnover could mean all the difference in this game.

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    South Carolina has also performed a minor facelift on its defensive line. Two junior college transfer ends are now starting on the defensive line. Linebackers Skai Moore and Jonathan Walton offer stability in the middle of the defense. The Gamecock pass rush was lacking last year, so that might be something that the North Carolina offense could exploit.

    Prediction: 28-24 North Carolina

    In a game between two teams that are looking for stability, I am going go with the team that has the better quarterback. That’s right, Marquise Williams is going to be the X-Factor in this game. The score is in the twenties because South Carolina will try to control the clock to keep the Tar Heels off the field. A shootout would not be Spurrier’s favor here.

    Next: North Carolina Football 2015 Season Preview