UNC Football: Staff Picks Week 2: @ Appalachian State

BOCA RATON, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 18: Chase Brice #7 of the Appalachian State Mountaineers in action against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers during the first half of the RoofClaim.com Boca Raton Bowl at FAU Stadium on December 18, 2021 in Boca Raton, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
BOCA RATON, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 18: Chase Brice #7 of the Appalachian State Mountaineers in action against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers during the first half of the RoofClaim.com Boca Raton Bowl at FAU Stadium on December 18, 2021 in Boca Raton, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

How does our staff think the UNC football team will fare in their first road game of the 2022 season?

Following a 56-24 “week zero” victory over Florida A&M that offered lots for Tar Heel fans to be both excited and concerned about, UNC travels to Boone, North Carolina this weekend for a non-conference showdown with Appalachian State.

While a Carolina win felt all but certain last weekend, this week’s matchup feels like a true toss-up.  Find out how our staff thinks the Tar Heels will fare in Saturday’s in-state battle below!

Nick Delahanty

As we saw in the Tar Heels’ season opener, the defense is still very much a work in progress.

Heading into their first real test of the 2022 season, North Carolina can’t afford a sloppy performance from their defensive unit. They were able to get away with it against Florida A&M, but that won’t be the case against a very talented Appalachian State team.

Offensively, not only do the Mountaineers return their starting quarterback, but also feature a backfield of three (yes, three) runningbacks who have already rushed for 1,000+ yards in their college careers. To add to this, Appalachian State also returns four of their five offensive linemen from a season ago.

With Kevin Barbay taking over as the team’s offensive coordinator, expect a bit of a different look for the Mountaineers’ offense. If the Tar Heels want to win this one, they are going to have to find a way to get some stops defensively.

At this point, it’s not a safe bet to think that North Carolina’s defense will step up to the occasion. The offense should keep them in the game, but I don’t think it will be enough for the Tar Heels to come home victorious after their first true road contest of the season.

Prediction: Appalachian State- 42, North Carolina- 28

Isaac Schade

Three seasons ago, Mack Brown was in his first year back in Chapel Hill and had a
freshman quarterback named Sam Howell. After a 2-0 start, that group of Tar Heels lost
three in a row, including a 34-31 defeat against Appalachian State in Kenan Stadium.

We now come to the third-ever meeting between these two schools. The Tar Heels
travel to Boone to try and exact some level of revenge on the Mountaineers. Carolina
will potentially be without Josh Downs and Tony Grimes, each of whom were injured in
the season opener against Florida A&M. On the plus, the Tar Heels are hopeful to get
Ohio State transfer Lejond Cavazos back from injury.

We learned more about the offense than the defense last week. Mack Brown has
certainly found Howell’s replacement in Drake Maye. The offensive line looked strong
last Saturday (zero sacks allowed), the freshmen running back tandem of Omarion
Hampton and George Pettaway showed flashes of their capability, and the tight ends
were all involved in the passing game.

Two big things I’m watching for: what receiver steps up if Downs is out and was Gene
Chizik running a vanilla defense last week and, if so, what does he have in store?

Not only does Carolina get revenge, but they do so with the same score as the last
meeting on a Noah Burnette FG as the clock runs out.

Prediction: North Carolina 34, Appalachian State 31

Bryant Baucom

With one game under their belt, Saturday’s contest in Boone is the first true test of the season for the Tar Heels.

A veteran-laden Appalachian State team awaits, as North Carolina has failed to win outside of Chapel Hill since 2020.  Drake Maye and the Tar Heel offense impressed in their debut, but a hostile crowd and more talented opponent awaits.

In the season opener, the defense showed signs of progress, but also struggled at times. They showed Florida A&M very basic looks and played a majority of the game with multiple members of the secondary unavailable.

Ultimately, I expect the defense to improve and the offense to post an above average performance. The biggest concern is the availability of Tony Grimes and Josh Downs.  If both or one are available, the Tar Heels are in a much better position to pull out a win.

Prediction: North Carolina 35, Appalachian State 31

Mark DeMott

With all due respect to Florida A&M, the first true test of the Tar Heel’s season comes this Saturday in Boone.  With this game being a noon kickoff against an App State team hosting an ACC school for their season opener, all signs point to it being a wild one.

Offensively, the Heels need to establish a rhythm and protect freshman quarterback Drake Maye, who will be making his first career road start.  If the offensive line can keep Maye upright and open up some holes for the UNC running backs the Heels will have a chance to put a lot of points on the board.  Josh Downs (if healthy) should be the best player on the field, and the Carolina tight ends could be a matchup nightmare for the App State secondary.

However, if the Tar Heels want to win this Saturday, the defense will have to be much better than it was against FAMU.  App State returns three running backs who have over 1,000 career rushing yards and a quarterback who has been around the block.  While signal-caller Chase Brice returns, the ‘Neers top three wide receivers from last year’s team have moved on from college football.  This game could come down to the Carolina front seven, who we know is talented, but needs to show it on the field for sixty minutes.

This should be a fun and wild game that will probably come down to a couple of plays.  I think Maye plays well in his first road game and the defense does just enough for the Heels to escape Boone with their first road win since 2020.

Prediction: North Carolina 35, Appalachian State 31

Aaron Conrad

Week zero may or may not have done anything to calm the whispers and fears about the Tar Heels defense. The offense looked great. There are some great pieces. Now the Heels hit the road. It will be a hostile environment and you can be App State is going to be ready to play. I like that Mack is challenging the narrative and his team. I think they are in for a fight. Good teams win these kind of matchups. We will learn a lot about this year’s Tar Heels this weekend.

Prediction: North Carolina 42, Appalachian State 38

Staff Standings

Nick: 1-0

Isaac: 1-0

Bryant: 1-0

Mark: 1-0

Aaron: 1-0

dark. Next. App State Game Preview

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