Letdown. That will be the keyword for the Tar Heels as they head into their match up with the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders from Conference USA in Week 2. Regardless of the outcome in the season opening game against South Carolina it will be hard for UNC not to avoid a letdown after a big first game followed by a game against a perceived lesser opponent from a weaker conference. However, it will not take much for Coach Fedora to make sure that Middle Tennessee has the Tar Heels full attention.
Last season the Blue Raiders beat Georgia Tech in Atlanta 49-28, the same Yellow Jackets that went on to beat North Carolina 68-50 in the highest scoring game in ACC history. The Raiders who are led by senior QB Logan Kilgore will enter the season with a chip on its shoulder after being left out of postseason play despite their 8-4 record in their final season in the Sun Belt Conference. The offense returns 8 starters including 4 on the offensive line that has only given up 15 sacks over the last two seasons. They run a spread offense that usually features 4 wide receivers that will test a Tar Heels secondary that struggled throughout much of the 2012 season. On defense MTSU only returns 6 starters but one of them is Freshman All-American Kevin Byard who could be matchup one-on-one with star tight end Eric Ebron.
This game looks to have all the makings of a trap game for the Heels. The Blue Raiders can match the Heels offensive firepower with a deep stable of running backs and receivers which will likely lead to a shootout in Kenan Stadium which probably would not bother Coach Fedora who loves a fast up tempo game. Look for Carolina to try to establish the running game with A.J. Blue and Romar Morris behind a line that outweighs its opponents 301 pounds to 279. They will try to run right at middle linebacker Roderic Blunt the Raiders top playmaker in their front seven allowing Bryn Renner to get the passing game going with Sean Tapley and Quinshad Davis against a suspect secondary. If the Tar Heels are able to stay focused and not overlook this game and look toward their conference opener against Georgia Tech following their bye week they should win a very exciting and entertaining game.