UNC Football: Staff Picks: vs Florida A&M

Florida A&M Rattlers safety Lovie Jenkins (1) celebrates during a game between FAMU and Grambling State University at Bragg Memorial Stadium on FAMU's homecoming Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021.Famu Vs Grambling First Edit 103021 Ts 2189
Florida A&M Rattlers safety Lovie Jenkins (1) celebrates during a game between FAMU and Grambling State University at Bragg Memorial Stadium on FAMU's homecoming Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021.Famu Vs Grambling First Edit 103021 Ts 2189 /

The UNC football team will open the 2022 campaign on Saturday night against the Florida A&M Rattlers.

Football season is finally here and the Tar Heels will host Florida A&M in Kenan Stadium on Saturday Night in the season opener.  How will UNC fare in the first game after the Sam Howell era?  Our experts made their picks below!

Nick Delahanty

With the latest news about the Florida A&M situation, you’d have to expect this one to be a potential laugher for the Tar Heels.

With some compliance issues surrounding the Tar Heels HBCU opponent, the Rattlers will most likely be without 20+ players on Saturday night. This should give the UNC football program even more of an advantage, as they will take on a depleted roster to begin their season.

Although I think this won’t be a close one, I’ll be keeping an eye on how Drake Maye handles the start at quarterback. I’m also very interested to watch the Gene Chizik-led defense for the first time this season.

Prediction: North Carolina 42, Florida A&M 7

Isaac Schade

With all due respect to Florida A&M, an FCS school, UNC’s Week 0 season opener is
akin to the Tar Heel basketball team playing their exhibition game prior to the regular
season. With that in mind, this game is all about watching the Tar Heels with keen eyes.

Mack Brown’s team begins their 2022 campaign with a multitude of question marks. The
problem is that, because of the opponent, we likely won’t get the answers to those
questions just yet. In fact, I won’t even give you ideas of what to watch for from Florida

Rather, I’ll provide you with the four specific areas I’m watching most closely for
the Tar Heels, which include Drake Maye as QB1 and Jacolby Criswell’s usage behind
him, the defense’s communication (a major theme Coach Gene Chizik has been
preaching), the cohesion of the offensive line, and which non-Josh Downs receiver will
step up and declare himself as the No. 2 option in the passing attack.

The question is not if the Tar Heels win, but by how much. I’ll take Carolina straight up, 49-7.

Prediction: North Carolina 49, Florida A&M 7

Bryant Baucom

North Carolina enters Saturday’s season-opener following a disappointing 2021 campaign and with question marks in all three phases of the game.

Both Drake Maye and Jacolby Criswell will see time at quarterback and members of the Tar Heels’ No. 11 ranked recruiting class will make their debut.

Ultimately, a matchup for North Carolina against an FCS opponent should be a nice way to open the season and give them confidence before heading into a tough contest in Boone against Appalachian State.

While the Marching 100 may steal the show and captivate the Kenan Stadium crowd, the Rattlers will not steal a victory on the gridiron.

I expect the Tar Heel offense to put up points and for multiple running backs to step up when their name is called. Josh Downs can serve as a security blanket for the two quarterbacks as the No. 2 receiver is still undetermined while Antoine Green is out with an injury.

This matchup is even more important for the UNC defense, a unit that struggled and failed to meet expectations in 2021. With Gene Chizik taking over as the defensive coordinator, a tune up game gives themselves a chance to get a game under their belt in the new system, while putting together a solid performance.

Mistake-free football won’t occur, but the Tar Heels will win in dominant fashion over Florida A&M.

Prediction: North Carolina 42, Florida A&M 10

Mark DeMott

The Tar Heels should be bigger, faster, and more physical than the Rattlers on both sides of the ball.  It wouldn’t be a shock if Freshman QB Drake Maye shows his inexperience at times, but he should play well overall.  I also expect that UNC will build a big lead which will allow Jacolby Criswell to get a few drives as well.

I’ll predict an improved effort from the defense in Gene Chizik’s first game back, shutting down the Rattlers and forcing a couple of turnovers.  It would be hard to imagine an FCS opponent has someone who can cover Josh Downs, who could get in the end zone multiple times.

The Heels will take care of business and the game should be out of reach early in the second half, allowing the starters to get some rest prior to the first true test of the season in Boone next week.

Prediction:  North Carolina 45, Florida A&M 7

Aaron Conrad

The best part of the new season is there is renewed hope. I am not sure if I am the only one that has dialed back expectations after having such high hopes for last season.

That said, the Tar Heel start off with a quality opponent that is coming off of a 9-3 season and a 7-1 record in SWAC conference play. The weather looks good for what should be an exciting first look at the Tar Heels.

Prediction: North Carolina 48, Florida A&M 14

Staff Standings

Nick: 0-0

Isaac: 0-0

Bryant: 0-0

Mark: 0-0

Aaron: 0-0

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