Now that everyone has recovered from their firework burns and gotten over their 4th of July hang-overs, it’s time for another Friday football preview! Make sure to check out our other detailed previews below so you know what to expect when the season starts!
Also, check out Backing The Pack for their INCREDIBLY detailed preview of our season opener against Tennessee!
2012 Chik-Fil-A Kickoff: An Early Overview Of The Tennessee Vs. NC State Matchup (part 1)
UT Season In Review (part 2)
Just For Kicks: Comparing the UT And NC State Kicking Games (part 3)
What Anagram Tell Us About The Tennessee Volunteers (part 4)
The Big Uglies (part 5)
Let’s keep this on the DL (Part 1) (part 6)
Let’s keep this on the DL (Part 2) (part 7)
At last we arrive to what might be many NC State fans’ most anticipated game of the season (note that I didn’t say “biggest”, especially if we get off to a hot start against our OOC opponents and get a good bowl bid). NC State is coming off of a 5 year winning streak against the Tar Heels, despite UNC’s $2 million per year investment in Butch Davis. It’s been a thrilling ride for NC State fans as we have risen to the occasion year-in and year-out. Considering that TOB has gone into the Carolina game with a losing record 3/5 years (4-5 in 2007, 4-6 in 2008, and 4-7 in 2009), the winning streak has been nothing short of a total embarrassment for UNC.
The last time NC State went on this big of a run against UNC was from 1988-1992 (5 wins) during the tenure of Dick Sheridan. Sheridan only lost to Carolina one season (1987). If O’Brien can beat first year head coach Larry Fedora, then he will be the first coach in NC State history to defeat UNC 6-times in a row. The longest winning streak UNC has ever had against NC State was 7 wins from 1993-1999 during the Mike O’Cain tenure.
LARRY F#$%ING FEDORA
Larry Fedora has been in the coaching game since 1986 and has moved from Texas (Baylor) to Colorado (Air Force Academy) to the southeast (MTSU and Southern Miss) and now to the Carolinas. His only previous head coaching stint was at Southern Mississippi where he walked in on day 1 and started recruiting at a phenomenal rate, amassing what anyone would call a good recruiting class (especially since he stole recruits from schools like LSU). He also broke a total of 36 school records in his first season at Southern Miss.
The bottom line is that Fedora doesn’t waste time. The only thing left to see is whether Fedora can translate what he accomplished at the mid-major level within an ACC program that has struggled to “take-off” for half a decade.
2011 STATISTICAL SUMMARY
Usually I break apart the offense and defense, but as UNC finds itself in a unique situation, I’m going to just look at last year and next year as a composite team.
The one thing Carolina did well last year was move the ball down the field, whether that was on the ground or in the air. One major factor was likely their front line which boast three returning starters. In fact, no on in their offensive line is listed under 300 lbs. With that kind of protection, Jay Davis probably could have even made some good plays. Overall, the Tar Heels were earning 13.3 yards per completion and 4.08 per run which is among the best of any team we will have played to date come October 27th, 2012. Defensively, however, they allows their opponents to score 24 touchdowns on the season via the passing game, which is similarly the worst we will have seen as of October 27th, 2012.
In 2011, Carolina was weak against the pass and strong in offense. What an ironic fate for a team that boasted so many “NFL-ready” defensive players prior to the NCAA investigations. Whether Fedora capitalizes on this offensive success and plugs the holes (no pun intended) in the Tar Heel secondary is yet to be seen.
HOW ARE THEY LOOKING SO FAR FOR 2012?
Let’s get the obvious out of the way: UNC isn’t going to a bowl game this year. That said, UNC will be gunning for NC State’s throat. For them, this WILL be their bowl game.
Athlon Sports, which does a pretty nice preview of each major team for the upcoming season, has the Tar Heels tentatively at #29th for the 2012 season. What has been interesting to see if how Fedora has been modifying UNC’s offense. Fedora was known at Southern Miss for his fast, no-huddle style of play. This differs greatly from the NFL offense that Butch Davis had been running, but with the residual talent that UNC has on it’s roster, the transition shouldn’t be that hard. If Fedora adds speed to the already proficient offense that UNC had in 2011, UNC could give us trouble.
Defensively, Fedora is also changing things up by using unconventional schemes. With 5 DBs on the field, you can see how quickly the new head coach is moving to fix last year’s secondary. However, UNC is also losing two of their top players in the secondary and linebacker Zach Brown. What this amounts to is an unknown quality on defense. Will UNC have a solid defense? The scheme seems to be there to accommodate the secondary’s faults, but whether the horses will be there or not is to be seen.
MATCH-UP WITH NC STATE
Much like the rest of FBS football, NC State has relied on the passing game since Russell Wilson breathed new life into our offense. This may explain why we have had such success against UNC historically and may be why we have success against them again this season. UNC has a lot of unknowns in their secondary and that, in the end, will be what makes or breaks them. Some have had UNC ranked as highly as #13 (I’m looking at you, Steele), but in order for that to happen, the personnel on defense have to step up to fill some major gaps left by departing players and players that simply never existed in the first place.
Will NC State win? Watch UNC’s first several games and pay attention to their secondary. If they still look diseased, NC State may be looking at a six-in-a-row winning streak.