UNC vs East Carolina: Things to Watch


The undefeated North Carolina Tar Heels will no doubt have revenge on their minds when they head to Greenville to do battle with the proverbial thorn in the ACC’s side, East Carolina. The Pirates are flying high, fresh off of defeating then #17 ranked Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. Combine that with that fact that they dominated UNC last season (a 55-31 final, )it’s a safe bet that this will be one confident bunch. With that being said, I expect the Tar Heels to be ready for the challenge and here’s a few things to watch for that could be key factors in the outcome of this UNC vs East Carolina showdown.

Will the Tar Heels come to play for 60 minutes?

Even though UNC is undefeated, it has not been easy and a huge reason for that has been the lackluster first halves. If UNC digs itself another early hole, it just may result in the first L of the season. That’s exactly what happened in last years game between these two. East Carolina jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and by halftime they had a commanding 28-10 lead. By the time the Heels woke up it was too late and they suffered an embarrassing home loss.

In this game, UNC must come out from the opening kickoff and make their presence felt. The offense will need to put some points early and defense will have to get a stop or two, hopefully a turnover. Should those things happen, UNC will have a great chance to get some sweet revenge!

Can the UNC defense slow down Shane Carden?

For those who aren’t familiar with this guy, Let me start by saying; He’s a bad man! In the first three games of the season the ECU senior signal caller has thrown for 1,031 yards, seven touchdowns and just two interceptions. In the Pirates beat down of the Tar Heels last season, all Carden did was throw for 376 yards and three scores, he also scored three more touchdowns on the ground. The Pirates are good team but Shane is the guy that makes everything go. That means the top priority of the UNC defense will be containing Shane Carden. Now I don’t expect the Tar Heels D to shut him down, he’s just too good. However, I do expect them to come out with a chip on their shoulders and to play pretty well. If UNC can get some pressure on Carden it could take him out of his comfort zone just enough where he’ll make a mistake or two that changes the game.

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Will Coach Fedora continue to use two quarterbacks?

This is the third game of the season and in my opinion the multiple quarterback experiment needs to come to an end. Marquise Williams has been much better than Mitch Trubisky and I think the entire offense would benefit from Williams getting all of the snaps. No disrespect to Trubisky, but when he gets in the game, it seems to deflate the offense and it throws Marquise’s game off. The Heels O has to start performing at higher level with ACC play right around the corner, not to mention this tough road game. To do that I believe Larry Fedora must settle on one QB so this unit can gain some continuity. If Williams doesn’t have to look over his shoulder, I think the offense will start to look like the juggernaut many of us thought they would be and that could mean trouble for ECU.

How will the offensive line fair in a hostile environment?

The O-line is already a work in progress and with the recent injury to UNC’s most seasoned linemen, guard Landon Turner, their job just got that much harder. This will be the first road start for a couple of the young linemen, so keeping their composure will be key. The ECU crowd should be in a frenzy which will make the task tougher but if these guys avoid a ton of false start penalties early, they should get their feet under them and play pretty well. The offensive line will also have to win their fair share of battles in the trenches. Like the Editor of Keeping It Heel, John Bauman said, Terry Williams is the key to ECU’s defense and the Heels will have to control the Pirates nose tackle in order to get the running game going. A thriving ground attack will take some pressure off these youngster in pass protection and allow the offense to become more balanced. Bottom line, the performance of the offense line could win or lose this game.