What will it take to beat MTSU? The short answer, and the answer that I snap off to anyone who asks me that is typically, “Score more points than they do.” However, I’ve been made aware that this makes for a somewhat lacking column in the length department, so let’s answer the follow-up question, which is “So how does UNC do that?”
Prevent big plays. That’s the biggest key. UNC did a very good job against South Carolina if you take away their big plays. Like the third play of the game. Like the 60+ yard run. Those are the plays that killed UNC’s chances in that game. UNC can’t afford to miss assignments. Everyone in the stadium knew that Spurrier was going to go short-short-long in the opening drive, but UNC still got beat. Yes, it was a beautiful pass, but the lane was there. The QB had time to let the play develop. UNC has to make tackles. Arm tackles will get run through by good teams, as they did against South Carolina. Everyone has to make proper form tackles, and prevent extra yards.
Don’t give away possession. UNC had momentum against South Carolina late in the first half, and boom. Fumbled punt return. It really killed any momentum the Heels offense and defense had built for the team. Special teams can’t be a liability. They don’t have to put points on the board (though it would be nice), but they can’t take points off the board for UNC, or worse, add them to the other team.
Create turnovers. UNC didn’t create any turnovers against South Carolina. That certainly didn’t help the cause. While getting to the ball carrier or QB or whoever you’re trying to tackle, getting them to the ground should be mission 1. Mission 1A should be getting the ball from them. Again, arm tackles aren’t likely to cause enough jarring to free the ball from a RB or a WR.
Don’t get pushed around. A few times in the game, South Carolina was able to move the pile of players a significant distance. I get that it’s easier said than done, but don’t let anyone push you around. If someone is bigger than you, like South Carolina was, you wrap up their legs. It’s really tough to run or move the pile when you aren’t allowed use of your legs.
Take calculated risks. History does not favor the cautious. It also does not favor the brazenly foolish. I’m not saying fake punt on your own 10. I am saying don’t call a draw play on 3rd and 14 at midfield. And yes, I’m aware that history has actually allowed for both cautious and foolish, but it favors the smart, brave and calculated risk takers.
Finally, score more points than MTSU. C’mon. You didn’t think I was gonna forget that, did you? I think UNC is a very good team that will get better as the season goes along. They should win this game. I think they will.