The red-hot North Carolina Tar Heels will try to continue their second half of the season resurgence, as well as play spoiler when they host their arch-enemy Duke. Some are even calling the game the “biggest’ in the schools long bitter rivalry. The Blue Devils are 9-2 (5-2 in the ACC) and with a victory would face #2 Florida State in the ACC Championship Game. Carolina is 6-5 (4-3 in the league) and will try to send the seniors out with a bang and not to mention shatter Duke’s dream season. With that being said, there are a few things to watch for this UNC Football game that will help decide this contest.
Although Duke technically averages more points per game (34.3 to 32.8) the eye test tells me UNC’s offense is a little more explosive. Since sophomore Marquise Williams took over as the starting quarterback, this unit has really taken off and has looked much more like a Larry Fedora offense. Williams have proven to be just the spark the “O” needed. He ‘s a true dual threat, rushing for 386 yards and 4 scores but more importantly he’s thrown for 1,304 yards and 13 touchdowns and completing 60.8 percent of his passes. Translation-the Blue Devils better remain discipline on defense or they will get burned.
The Duke offense isn’t too shabby it’s self. They will use two quarterbacks although of late, junior Anthony Boone has been getting majority of the snaps. Neither of the Blue Devils signal callers are great, however they excel at getting the ball to the teams one true playmaker, wide receiver Jamison Crowder, who leads the team with 83 catches for 1,077 yards and five TDs. Most likely the boys from Durham will try to pound the ball with the several running backs the use as well as the quarterbacks, in order to shorten the game and neutralize that improving Carolina pass rush.
Speaking of that pass rush, senior defensive end Kareem Martin has been “beasting” of late and that why I would give him and his buddies on “D” the slight advantage. Don’t get me wrong Duke’s defensive has been a little more consistent than the Heels but they lack that game changer like Martin. Just in the last two games Kareem has 5.5 sacks, totally being disruptive and more of the same should be expected in his final game at Kenan Memorial Stadium. As long as the Carolina defense can hold it’s on versus the run, that fierce pass rush should be on display and reeking havoc.
Special Teams wise the squads are virtually even but I’ll take the Heels. The kickers are pretty much identical but I like UNC’s punt returner Ryan Switzer a little more. The 5’10 175 lb freshman has already taken 4 punts to the house this season and I suspect he’ll make play or two come Saturday. Duke’s Jamison Crowder is very dangerous himself. He has 2 punt returns for scores in his own right but his receiver duties could take away from his special teams production.
Bottom line, If the Carolina plays mistake free on Offense and the “D’ can stop the run as well as avoid getting beat via the deep ball, I just don’t see how Duke will leave Chapel Hill with a “W”… especially on Senior Day!