The Queen City of Charlotte, North Carolina, will play host to both UNC and the University of Cincinnati football teams for the Belk Bowl on December 28th. The largest city in North Carolina, Charlotte, will feel like a home game for the Tar Heels. It is a place where a lot of Chapel Hill recruits hail from and many fans live. Most of all, UNC hopes to have Charlotte be the location this football team puts the icing on the cake for a strong second-half of a season. Nine-win Cincinnati will be no pushovers, though. Chapel Hill must rise to the occasion. Here’s how they do it.
1) UNC must try this new thing out called “consistency”
Chapel Hill lost five of their first six games, three of which were to ACC opponents. They proceeded to win the next five. They lost their final game to Coastal Division champion, dook, in the final game. UNC sits at a very streaky six-and-six for the season and wants to finish the season on a high note. That being said, they’re on the positive side of the streak.
What Chapel Hill must do is control the clock early and consistently against Cincinnati. Cincinnati is 12th in the nation in the “Points Against” category, allowing only 19.5 per game to opponents. That’s solid.
The way UNC beats this team is by keeping the Bearcats’ defense on the field as long as possible, consistently as possible. Chapel Hill must have short completions to big targets like Tight End Eric Ebron and have Quarterback Marquise Williams pick up yards with his feet. By the fourth quarter, Cincinnati will hopefully be a step slow, allowing over-the-top type of bombs to six-foot-four Wide Receiver Quinshad Davis. But it all starts by keeping UC’s defense on their feet throughout the game and away from the Gatorade.
2) Get Quarterback Brendon Kay to the ground
This man can flat out throw the ball. UNC should be very wary of the 6’4’’, 228-pound assassin. He’s thrown 3,121 yards for 22 touchdowns and pushed his team to a top-15 passing squad, statistically averaging 313 yards through the air per game. If he gets going early, it will rain all over UNC’s shaky secondary and on the scoreboard—even if it’s clear skies and blue birds in Charlotte.
The best game plan is to rush the quarterback early and often. UNC’s front seven has to make it their mission to shake the confidence of the big fella, even if that just means making him think twice. Let Cincinnati try to beat Chapel Hill on the ground. That’s the Tar Heels’ safest bet.
3) Chapel Hill must get some touches to their new guys
Of course it’s important UNC wins this game. It’s the difference between a winning season and a seven-loss one. It’s the difference between showing the upswing of the program, versus having to call this year a “rebuilding one” to recruits. Six wins out of the last seven games sounds a lot better than finishing the season sub-.500.
However, the most important thing this bowl signifies is this: the season’s over. It means it’s high time to get the running game of Chapel Hill back to a level of adequacy. Sure, Gio left last season—it’s time to move on. UNC was an abysmal 85th in the nation in rushing yards with only 146 a game. That’s terrible. Enough with the excuses, it’s time Chapel Hill became a dual-threat again.
How does this happen? By getting the ball in freshman T.J. Logan’s hands much more. He’s only had 78 touches this whole season. That translates to 456 yards—an average of 5.8 yards per carry. Nothing can prepare players for game speed other than just that. UNC has to be focusing on the future and putting the ball in this young man’s hands more.
So, what does the outlook look like in the game against The Cincinnati Bearcats? UNC takes it with the swift feet of Marquise Williams and late-game bombs over the secondary. They build this up by having a break-out game by T.J. Logan. UNC 17 – UC 14.