Time for another weekend of Tar Heel football! Last week, North Carolina put a couple of disappointing losses behind them and trounced a vulnerable East Carolina team in a 27-6 victory. This week the opponent comes all the way to North Carolina from the Gem State, Idaho University. The Vandals aren’t a particularly scary opponent on paper. They’re sporting an 0-4 record and have struggled on offense (only scoring 16.8 ppg) and on defense (allowing 36 ppg) all season long and if they continue to play consistently, I think UNC could put up another Elon type performance on Saturday.
To their credit, Idaho has scored more points every game they’ve played. In fact, the Vandals scored more points in a loss to LSU (14) than they did in a loss to FCS opponent Eastern Washington (3). IYes, you read that correctly. Idaho’s bright spot comes from their quarterback Dominique Blackmon who has thrown for 832 yards while completing 73% of his passes. He has also thrown for six touchdowns to only five interceptions (four of which came against LSU). The gun slinger spreads the ball effectively around to many different receivers and typically puts the ball in the right spot. The UNC secondary should air on the side of caution here as there have been times over the young season where they have been heavily exposed.
That being said, I still like Coach Fedora and the Tar Heels to prevail. The Tar Heels at 2-2 are really just two plays away from being 4-0. They have been consistent so far this season under the new scheme, when they lose, it’s by a minimal amount and when the win, they win big. Both times the Heels have been victorious has been in Chapel Hill and to me, even with a new staff and a new game plan, there just seems to be a comfort level that really shows when the Tar Heels play in Kenan stadium. The offense has averaged 44.5 ppg at home which is typically good enough to give you a win anyways, but when you add that the defense only allows 3 ppg at home……..there is little to no chance for the visitor.
Now these stats are represented by a small sample size and the opponents come from non-automatic qualifier conferences, but a win at the end of the day is a win and North Carolina is going to treat Idaho just as they would any other opponent.
With Gio Bernard back for a second consecutive week, the Tar Heels should rely heavily on his ability to move the ball down the field and open up space for Bryn Renner to hit his ever maturing receiving corps in the open field. With the emergence of Eric Ebron, Sean Tapley, and Quinshad Davis, UNC has really equipped themselves with a lot of weapons to score with and I would be surprised to see the Tar Heels put up anything less than 35 points.
Defensively, I’ve been really impressed with the ability to put pressure on the quarterback by the Carolina front four. Last week, it felt like ECU had absolutely no time to get a quality pass off, but the defensive secondary was still unable to force any turnovers. I think the game’s pace will be dictated by how fast the Heels can cause disruption in the pocket for Blackmon and how often the secondary makes him pay for it. With the matchups that Carolina has defensively, I like them to force three takeaways against Idaho.
All in all, Tar Heel fans should be in for another blow out. It may not be 62-0, but Tar Heel fans should enjoy this one.