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My post about UNC and the NIT won Raycom Sport’s Blog Post of the Week. This marks the second time that I’ve won this (hardly) prestigious award…in the past 6 months!

What does this mean for you?

Well, it means that you should go to, click on the UNC logo, and read my constant coverage of UNC football and basketball!


Hello everyone.

I have not written on this blog in a long time, but I have good reason. I am occupied with school work, life, and my other blog at

If you like what you’ve read here, you can read more of my work by going to, and clicking on the UNC logo. Once you’ve done that, you will see a number of articles with my name “davidgiancaspro” in the header.

If I restart this blog as a separate entity from the Raycom blog, I will let you know via the Raycom blog. Thanks for reading, and go Heels!


Hello, Tarheeltds reader(s).

It’s been a great week for UNC football, and a pretty good week for the ACC. So let’s celebrate the good times with the first edition of my ACC Power Rankings.

1)      Miami (2-0 ACC)- Miami looks exceptional so far. Offensively, Jacory Harris is throwing beautifully to a very deep and finally productive group of wide receivers. At running back, Javarris James looks better than he has in years. On defense, the Hurricanes wiped out Georgia Tech with a blend of speed, power, and pure talent. I’ll spare you the commentary on their “swagger,” but this looks like a 9 to 11 win team to me.

2)      North Carolina (3-0)- UNC will have a chance in every game thanks to its dominant defense. Offensively, the Heels seem to be coming of age at wide receiver and offensive line while TJ Yates looks like the 2nd best passer in the conference.

3)      Florida State (2-1)- FSU recovered big time from their 19-9 win over Jacksonville State with a 54-28 blasting of the #7 BYU Stormin’ Mormons. We knew Ponder and the offensive line would be solid but the receivers have been a plus too, helping the offense rank 27th in the nation in total yards. The defense has struggled, but it won’t face another truly great offensive team until it plays Florida in the last week of the season.

4)      Virginia Tech (2-1)- Who would have thought that Virginia Tech would be the third best team in its own division at this point in the year? The Hokies escaped with a 16-15 win over a ranked Nebraska team this week, but that doesn’t mean I’m sold on their performance. Their passing game is atrocious, and the running game doesn’t look much better. Defensively, they look more vulnerable than they have in years.

5)      Georgia Tech (2-1)- What on Earth happened to the Jackets on Thursday night? They looked uninspired and uninterested, and in a key divisional game, too. RB Jonathan Dwyer has been ineffective so far this season, and he’s the key to their offense. Last year, Georgia Tech lost almost every game when Dwyer was held in check. Defensively, I haven’t seen much either, especially in the secondary.

6)      Clemson (2-1)- Clemson gave up just 51 total yards to Boston College on Saturday. The Tigers are a dominant defensive unit, but offensively they’ve had their share of problems. The passing game, thanks to a lack of WRs not named Jacoby Ford, is spotty, while the running game isn’t scaring anyone. And guess what? CJ Spiller’s hurt again!

7)      NC State (2-1)- NCSU is hard to judge because they’ve only played one big boy game, a 7-3 loss to South Carolina. In that game, their offense looked god awful (note: Georgia scored 40 points on South Carolina the next week, so I don’t think it’s just the Gamecock defense). Defensively, they’ve been sharp, but I don’t expect that to last after they stop playing the Murray States and Gardner Webbs of the world.

8)      Wake Forest (2-1)- Wake seems to have revitalized its rushing attack, but I can’t see this offense threatening any of the elite defenses in this conference. One bright spot for the Deacons seems to be their offensive backfield where a number of guys have stepped up and played well.

9)      Boston College (2-1)- BC put up 51 yards this past week in a game at Clemson. They didn’t have a first down that wasn’t caused by a Clemson penalty until there were two minutes left in the third quarter. Just let that sink in for a second as we continue sinking into the depths of ACC football.

10)   Duke (1-2)- Just cancel your season, Duke. You lost to Richmond at home. You lost by 4 touchdowns to Kansas on the road. Save yourselves the agony, and just call it a year.

11)   Maryland (1-2)- The Terps gave up 268 yards rushing to James Madison. With upcoming games against Rutgers, Clemson and Wake Forest, these guys could be 1-5 heading into their epic showdown with Virginia on August 17th. Can you say hot ticket?

12)   Virginia (0-3)- And speaking of the mighty Cavaliers, here’s Al Groh’s squad checking in at number 12. After blowing a 17 point lead with 7 minutes left in the 3rd quarter against Southern Miss., the Hoos might have blown their best chance to get a win this season. Still, I say Al Groh has this team right where he wants them. Some say he’s the greatest ACC coach of all time when it comes to job-saving victories. He’ll get a big chance when the Cavaliers come to Chapel Hill in 2 weeks. This blog has been programmed to self-destruct in case of a UNC loss in that one.

Hello everyone.

I’m also writing a couple of posts weekly for To view the posts, go to and click on the UNC team logo. From there, at least one of my posts should be up on the right side of the page.

Thanks for reading, and go Tar Heels!

What we learned in Week 1:

1) Virginia Tech (still) has an offensive offense.

We heard all summer about the improvements in the Virginia Tech passing game, but I didn’t see much in the Hokies’ disappointing 34-24 loss to Alabama. Tyrod Taylor was spotty, and the receivers didn’t look much better. Highly touted redshirt-freshman RB Ryan Williams breathed a little bit of life into the offense (113 of the Hokies’ measley 155 yards), but as long as Bryan Stynespring has his hands on the controls, the Gobbler attack is as good as dead. Quote me on this one: Virginia Tech will not beat a top 10 team until Bryan Stynespring is gone. And in other bad news for Virginia Tech fans, the UNC and Miami defenses look more than capable of taking away the Hokies ground attack.

2) The only thing Virginia can spread is cheese on crackers.

Gregg Brandon’s offensive spread experiment got off to a disastrous start in Charlottesville as the Cavaliers totaled just 268 yards and gave the ball away 7 times. All three Virginia QBs were terrible in the passing game, but can you really blame them? Spread offenses thrive by utilizing speed on the outside, and speed is one cheese not available at Gregg Brandon’s UVa offensive tailgate. The 7 turnovers given to the in-state visitors from Williamsburg were certainly a nice gesture by the host Hoos, but if the Hoos are that hospitable against the #17 Horned Frogs of TCU this coming week, they’ll lose by 4 touchdowns—or more.

3) Georgia Tech still has a case of fumble-itis.

One fallacy about option teams like Georgia Tech is that they decrease their fumbles with more experience in the offensive system. That may be true to a degree, but almost all of Paul Johnson’s teams—experienced or not—have coughed up the football a lot. The Jackets fumbled 5 times against Jacksonville State, losing three of them, and that should concern Georgia Tech fans. Coach Johnson blames the butter fingers on a lack of QB contact during practice, but I disagree. A rare downside of the option offense is a tendency to give away the rock, and that could factor into the Jackets’ success this year.

4) Duke football is still…Duke football

David Cutcliffe can talk about bowl games if he wants to, but he won’t be attending any as the head coach of the Duke football program. Duke failed to run the ball against an FCS opponent, and that does not bode well for their chances to run the ball against dominant defensive fronts at Miami, UNC, Virginia Tech, and Georgia Tech. Without a running game, the Devils will be exorcised in at least 7 of their 8 ACC games.

5) Stop chiseling Russell Wilson’s ACC Hall of Fame plaque.

Russell Wilson struggled mightily against South Carolina while Miami sophomore Jacory Harris looked like the next Charlie Ward. Preseason writers were ready to induct Wilson into the ACC Hall of Fame, but remember—he’s still a sophomore on a struggling NC State football team. Look for Harris to snatch the 1st team All-ACC QB position.

ACC Weekend Forecast- Week 1

"As you can see behind me, there are some ACC upsets brewing."

"As you can see behind me, there are some ACC upsets brewing."

Anyone who’s ever seen the weather channel knows how hilarious dramatic weather predictions can be. Dave Barry certainly knows. ( In honor of the Weather Channel, I’ve decided to do this weekend’s ACC forecast by picking a “storm category” for each of the games to be played. Allow me to demonstrate exactly what I mean with a handy key.

Category 5- Hurricane Hugh-miliation

The favored team destroys the underdog; hide the women and children!

EX: 2008 Clemson 45 Citadel 17

Category 4- Tropical Storm Spanky

The favored team wins handily, but you can’t change the channel to American Gladiators reruns until the late 3rd quarter

EX: 2008 GT 27 Duke 0

Category 3- Tropical Depression Duke

The favored team triumphs, but the game’s sloppier than a Duke Lacrosse party.

EX: 2008 Virginia 16 Richmond 0

Category 2- Tropical Breeze Biankabatuka

The underdog sneaks out a win by the tip of the football. It truly is a game of inches…

EX: 2008 Virginia 16 North Carolina 13 (OT)

Category 1- Windless sails

The underdog wins big over a favored team that presumably got hammered at the Holiday Inn the night before and is still puking during warm ups.

EX: 2008 Virginia 31 Maryland 0

At this point, you might be asking yourself: what does the Weather Channel have to do with football? And why did this guy ever watch the Weather Channel anyway? I will deflect both of those questions by asking a question of my own: how is it that Virginia went 3-0 on my Storm Category Explanation Chart and 1-8 in the rest of the 2008 season? At this time, I think it’s suitable to quote Cat Stevens.

“The answer, my friends, is blowing in the wind; the answer is blowing in the wind.”

"Read the rest of the article, or I'll never cut my hair again."

"Read the rest of the article, or I'll never cut my hair again."


CATEGORY FIVE- Hurricane Hugh-Miliation

1) Citadel @ #21 North Carolina (No line) – North Carolina blows the running-back deprived Citadel all the way back to Charleston.

SCORE: UNC 37 Citadel 9

2) Jacksonville State @ #15 Georgia Tech (No line) – Georgia Tech sweeps through Ryan Perriloux University* like a Category Five ravaging a trailer park. Cows and roofs go airborne.


*Ryan Perriloux, as is customary, has been suspended for the game.

CATEGORY FOUR- Tropical Storm Spanky

1) Middle Tennessee State @ Clemson (-18.5)-Last year, Clemson was the overhyped Category 5 Hurricane that ended up just knocking 3 shingles off a condemned house in Miami. This year, Clemson spins powerfully under the radar. Start buying plywood, MTSU. You’ll need it.

SCORE: Clemson 38 MTSU 12

2) Maryland @ #12 California (-21.5) – When you’re rebuilding in the front 7 as Maryland is, you don’t want to play Heisman candidate RB Jahvid Best and the Bears.

SCORE: California 41 Maryland 23

CATEGORY THREE- Tropical Depression Duke

1) Miami @ #18 Florida State (-5.5)- The Hurricanes weaken and drift off on the first leg of their 0-4 start. Miami is officially not threatening enough to be shown on the ominous Tropical Update segment.

SCORE: Florida State 21 Miami 10

2) #7 Virginia Tech vs. #5 Alabama (-6) – Alabama QB Greg McIlroy more than replaces frat-helmet superstar John Parker Wilson. Virginia Tech coaches cannot find RB Ryan Williams after the game. Police identify the now 550 lb Terrance Cody as the prime suspect.

SCORE: Alabama 13 VT 10

"Great job Terrance. Now what'd you do with that little running back?"

"Great job Terrance. Now what'd you do with that little running back?"

3) Northeastern @ Boston College (N/A)-This is without a doubt the least interesting matchup in the history of ACC football. I’d rather watch UVa play William and Mary in the in the House of Burgesses 390th Anniversary classic at Scott Stadium.

SCORE: BC 16 Northeastern 7

4) William and Mary @ Virginia (No line)-This game has two interesting storylines. First, will 50% of Scott Stadium fall asleep during the game? Secondly, can Gregg Brandon’s spread offense conquer the Tribe defense without offending Native Americans or the NCAA? No to both questions.

SCORE: Virginia 26 William and Mary 17

CATEGORY TWO- Tropical Breeze Biankabatuka

1) Richmond @ Duke (No line) – The Blue Devils have been dreaming about Meineke Car Car bowls this offseason. The Spiders? Well, they have been talking about repeat FCS national titles.

SCORE: Richmond 16 Duke 10

2) South Carolina @ NC State (-3.5)- Mike Glennon will get his chance to shine after the South Carolina defense knocks out Russell Wilson…again.


CATEGORY ONE- Windless sails

1) Baylor @ Wake Forest (-1.5)-The Big 12 is the like the ACC’s much cooler, much lazier older brother. I don’t know where I was going with that, but speedy QB Robert Griffith leads the Bears to big win.

SCORE: Baylor 34 Wake 16

Battle of the Baby Blues: UNC vs. Citadel Preview

They call it Tar Heel (and not Bulldog) blue for a reason.

They call it Tar Heel (and not Bulldog) blue for a reason.

All-time series: UNC has won all three meetings, including a 45-14 win in 1986

The Citadel

2008: 4-8 (2-6 in Southern Conference play); 0-2 vs. FBS teams (45-17 loss @ Clemson and a 70-19 loss @ Florida)

Head Coach: Kevin Higgins

Quotable: (from the Citadel Media Guide)

“Prior to his appointment at the helm of Bulldog football, Higgins served as the quarterbacks coach for his first three years with the Lions and was responsible for the tutoring and developing of Detroit’s first-round draft pick, quarterback Joey Harrington.”

Now there's a résumé builder...

Now there's a résumé builder...

Fun Facts:

1) The Citadel had a respectable 4-2 home record in 2008. However, more fans attended their 70-19 loss at Florida than all of the Bulldogs’ home games combined.

2) When the Citadel orders its uniforms from Nike, it orders the color “Carolina blue.”…Don’t believe me?

Citadel Offense vs. North Carolina Defense

Although the Citadel has not made it to the FCS playoffs since 1992, the Bulldogs have actually had a pretty solid track record on offense in recent years. Coordinator Dave Cecchini led the Bulldogs to the 4th best scoring offense in the nation in 2007, and it was no fluke. He’s also produced some monster offenses as offensive coordinator at Harvard (seriously, Harvard) and Lehigh.

Cecchini tries to employ a balanced, spread scheme—exactly the kind of scheme that allows speedy, but less talented FCS teams to hang around FBS opponents (Remember McNeese State?). In 2007, Cecchini’s balanced offense went to Madison and put up 4 TD in a 45-31 loss to a 9 win Wisconsin team.

As bad as the Citadel team was in 2008, the offense wasn’t to blame, converting an impressive 43% of third downs and finishing top 50 in the nation in both scoring offense (27.3 points per game) and total offense (364.3 yards per game). Arguably the 3 most important pieces of last year’s offensive unit return in QB Bart Blanchard, WR Andre Roberts, and LT Daniel DeHaven.

That being said, Cecchini is linguini thin at a number of key positions after a rough offseason for the offensive unit. Last year’s leading rusher Asheton Jordan (849 total yards, 4 TD) was dismissed from the team for an honor code violation while 2nd leading rusher Terrell Dallas spent the offseason recovering from a torn ACL suffered in a 70-19 loss to Florida. Additionally, the Dogs graduate 3 starters from last year’s offensive line while also losing All-Southern Conference TE Taylor Cornett and 3 of the top 5 receivers on the 2008 squad.


R-SOPH QB Bart Blanchard (2436 yards, 19 TD 11 INT; 130.9 passer rating)

Blanchard is a solid FCS quarterback with a lot of experience and a pretty decent skill set. As a sophomore in 2007, Blanchard had an eye-popping 162.98 passer rating. That, and the fact that he managed 279 passing yards at Clemson last fall make me think that Bart can definitely sling the rock around. At 200 lbs, he’s rushed for about 200 yards in each of the last two seasons (including 27 yards against Clemson), so at the very least, he’s a moderate running threat. Blanchard has had some turnover problems against Florida and Clemson (who wouldn’t though?), and he cannot afford to make such mistakes in Chapel Hill on Saturday.

Backup Cam Turner missed all of Spring Practice with a torn labrum, but he’s a capable replacement if Blanchard goes down. Turner had a respectable outing, going 15-30 with 169 yards, a TD and 2 picks in a game at Florida last fall.

Running Back

The Bulldogs aren’t going to scare anyone at the tailback position this fall. After the loss of Asheton Jordan, it’s almost certain that Cecchini will employ a running back by committee approach. However, one glance at the Media Guide makes the running back committee seem a lot more like a TORN-ACL support group. Along with SOPH Terrell Dallas (torn ACL vs. Florida), expected contributors R-FRESH Rickey Anderson (season ending knee injury in week 5) and SOPH John Shaw (2008 knee injury) will also be going from crutches to rushes in 2009, and that has to be a concern for Cecchini. 5’6 165 lb. Christian Graham was listed as the backup during Spring Practice and should also see time.


9/2/09! UPDATE: Citadel RBs Rickey Anderson, Terrell Dallas  and Van Dyke Jones will not play in the game due to various injuries. That means that the Citadel’s top two RBs on the depth chart will be walk-ons: 5’8 180 lb RB Remi Biankabatuka (the younger brother of former Michigan RB Tim Biankabatuka) and 5’10 195 lb freshman Bucky Kennedy.

The Tar Heels struggled to defend the read option in last season’s opener vs. McNeese State, so expect the Bulldogs to try that route in the early going. I don’t expect the Bulldogs to have any luck on the ground though with two inexperienced walk-ons sharing the load in the backfield. Plus, the Tar Heels’ slimmer, deeper defensive front has enough size and strength advantages to push the Citadel offensive linemen back and shrink the running lanes. It would be a miracle if the Bulldogs could rush for 100 yards. Coach Kevin Higgins would probably be satisfied with 20-35 carries and 100 to 140 yards on the ground.

Wide Receiver/Tight End

SR- WR Andre Roberts (1334 yards, 14 TD)

Andre Roberts (5’10 185 lbs) reminds me of a more dangerous version of former Appalachian State speedster Dexter Jackson. He’s racked up almost 3,000 career receiving yards in 3 seasons, and he’s earned 3rd team and 1st team All-America selections in 2007 and 2008, respectively. You might be tempted to downplay those numbers due to the lower competition that he faces in FCS play, but he had 153 yards and 2 TD on 9 catches last year in Death Valley against a very good Clemson defense. Roberts is the kind of talent (rated by many as the #1 FCS WR prospect in the 2009 class) who could spark an upset, so the Tar Heels must be aware of him at all times.


The Tar Heel secondary had most of its problems against bigger wide receivers in 2008. However, the small and quick Golden Tate of Notre Dame lit up the Tar Heel defense for 121 yards last year, and Roberts presents similar problems for us. Fortunately for UNC fans, Roberts doesn’t have a lot of help on the outside. The Citadel’s 2nd leading returning receiver had just 86 yards in 2008.

R-JR- WR- Scott Harward (1 catch for 4 yards)

Harward is another small, quick receiver for the Bulldogs.

SOPH WR- Luke Caldwell (4 catches 86 yards, 2 TD)

Caldwell didn’t see a lot of action last year, but he did have a stellar 52 yard, TD performance at Clemson. At 6’1 205 lb, he’s the biggest of the Citadel wide-outs.

TE- BJ Phillips

Phillips committed to UNC as a 3 star QB recruit in 2006. However, things didn’t work out in Chapel Hill for the 6’6 250 lb prospect, and Phillips found a new baby blue team to play for in the Citadel Bulldogs. Phillips is a great athlete, and he shouldn’t be much of a drop off from 2008 All-Southern Conference tight end Taylor Cornett.


Phillips is unproven at the collegiate level. Given the limited role of the TE in Citadel’s offense, don’t expect much from Phillips here.  UNC’s dynamic trio of linebackers certainly have the size and speed to keep him in check though, if the Bulldogs do choose to utilize the former Tar Heel QB recruit.

Offensive Line

The Bulldogs have an offensive line situation quite similar to that of the UNC buffet busters. They return a key leader at left tackle, one player with experience at multiple positions, and a few newcomers. Leading the group is 6’5, 290 lb 5th year senior Daniel DeHaven, a first team all-Southern Conference selection at left tackle. At center, the Bulldogs will start Mighty-Putty linemen Tommy Suggs, whose experience at all 5 positions on the line allows him to plug holes anywhere on the front. Cory Pope and Colton Clifton will man the guard spots after a few spots of playing time in the past few seasons, while former defensive linemen Lincoln Kling will play right tackle at just 273 lbs.


The Tar Heel defensive line should be able to overpower the Citadel offensive front. Tar Heel DE EJ Wilson (280 lb) is a tough, bull-rusher who actually outweighs Kling at right tackle. DTs Marvin Austin (300 lb) and Cam Thomas (320 lb) should give the guards and centers headaches on the interior as well. Also, watch for 5 star recruit Donte Paige-Moss to use his speed on the outside to outmaneuver the Bulldog offensive tackles. As if all of that isn’t bad news enough for the Citadel, the Tar Heels will play at least 10 defensive linemen in this game, wearing down the already thin Bulldog offensive line.


Isaac Collins’ Bulldog defense returns 10 starters, but is that a good thing or a bad thing? Last year’s unit had a lot more bark than bite, finishing 103rd in the nation in scoring defense (32.8 points per game) and 90th in the nation in total defense (389.4 yards per game).

While the Bulldogs do sport two All-Southern Conference linemen in Terrence Reese and DeWitt Jones, they’re small in the front 7 where they were manhandled against Clemson (252 yards, 7.4 yards per carry) and Florida (394 rush yards, 10.6 yards per carry). Despite its smaller size, the front 4 was not speedy enough to pressure the quarterback or force a lot of turnovers (They were 102nd in the nation in forced turnovers, 93rd in sacks, and 111th in tackles for loss.). Making matters worse, the secondary allowed opposing QBs to throw for a Tim-Tebow-esque 26 TD and just 3 INT.

This year’s Citadel defense should be better, almost by default. 8 of the 10 returning starters are upperclassmen.

Defensive Line

SR DE- DeWitt Jones (66 tackles, 7.5 TFL, 4 sacks)

rJR DE- Eric Clanton (22 tackles, 5 TFL, 2.5 sacks)

rFR DT- DeMarrio Sims (redshirted in 2008)

SR DT- Terrence Reese (49 tackles, 8.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks)


On paper, this is the Bulldogs’ best matchup against an inexperienced UNC offensive line. Reese and Jones are proven playmakers, but can anyone else step up to take the pressure off the Bulldogs’ all-Southern Conference duo? Freshman DeMarrio Sims is just 255 lbs at defensive tackle, and should be tested early by a heavy dose of inside running plays. Clanton and Jones are solid at the end position, but they will struggle in the strength department against Tar Heel tackles Kyle Jolly (6’6 300 lb) and Mike Ingersoll (6’5 300 lb). The Citadel will struggle to pressure TJ Yates with the front four. It’s also worth noting that Tar Heel short yardage specialist Ryan Houston is bigger than both of the Citadel’s defensive ends. There’s the difference between FCS football and big boy football right there.


SR MLB- Jordan Gilmore (93 tackles, 2 TFL, 1.5 sacks, INT)

SOPH SLB- Tolu Akindele (20 tackles, TFL, sack)

JR WLB- Mel Capers (63 tackles, 1.5 TFL, INT)

All three linebackers have ample starting experience. However, as with the defensive line, this unit is small and vulnerable against bigger FBS opponents. Gilmore and Akindele both stand just 5’10, while Capers is listed at 5’9 175 lb, or in Tar Heel terms, about the size of CB Kendric Burney.


This trio had almost no success getting to the QB in 2008, and I don’t expect that to change on Saturday. Look for Tar Heel TE Zack Pianalto and H-back Christian Wilson to take advantage of major size advantages in the intermediate passing game. On the ground, RBs Ryan Houston, Shaun Draughn, and Jamal Womble will all punish the linebacking corps. if (and this is a major if with this Tar Heel offensive front) the Heels offensive line can get them to the 2nd level.


SR CB- Ryan Jones (37 tackles, TFL)

JR CB- Cortez Allen (39 tackles, 2 TFL)

SOPH S- DeMontrell Smith (36 tackles, TFL, INT)

Smith made the freshman All-Conference team in 2008.

JR S- Demetrius Jackson (45 tackles)


The Tar Heel receiving corps. might be under scrutiny, but it’s certainly not undersized. Almost every Tar Heel wide receiver is large and physical, and that could be an issue for the Citadel. Cortez Allen is big and strong at 6’2 185 lb, but the other defensive backs all give up 5 to 8 inches to the UNC receivers.


Kicker: rSOPH Sam Keeler 12 of 19 FG (long of 38 yards); 36 of 41 PATs

Punter: r-FRESH Cass Couey

Punt/Kick Returns:

WR Andre Roberts led the nation in punt returns last year at 19.3 yards per return. He took three punts back to Casa Grande, and he has the speed to make a few more trips there this fall.


Roberts is especially scary to Tar Heel coaches, but he’s far from the only Special Teams concern. First of all, Casey Barth has very little experience as the kickoff man. He is not known for his strong leg, so most of the time, the Citadel will have a chance to return kicks. Second of all,  the Heels will be breaking in a new punter in Grant Schallock or CJ Feagles in the opening game vs. Citadel. Neither one has played in a meaningful college game situation. If they take longer than 2.2 seconds to punt, Citadel special teams demon Mel Capers (9 career blocked kicks) could make them pay with a block. The injuries of Tar Heel special teams captains Ryan Taylor and Matt Merletti also are major blows to the Tar Heels special teams play and could factor in the success of the punt and punt coverage teams.

However, the Bulldog kicking game could face some problems of its own. Sam Keeler made just 12 of 19 FG with a long of 38 yards last year. He also missed 5 extra points. It’s also worth noting that the Citadel will be breaking in a new punter in Cass Couey. If the pressure slows down his delivery, Bruce Carter (5 blocked punts in 2008) could smother another punt for a huge momentum changing Tar Heel touchdown.

Citadel Game Plan

If I were Citadel Coach Kevin Higgins, I would pray (or dance) to the rain gods for a sloppy, muddy, ugly field of play. Then, I’d  throw every possible blitz at the inexperienced Tar Heel offensive line. I would stack everyone at the line of scrimmage to completely neutralize the Tar Heel running game and force QB TJ Yates to complete longer passes to a young group of receivers. Higgins certainly doesn’t have FBS talent on this team, but this same strategy worked for WVU, NCSU, Maryland, and Virginia Tech last year. And let’s not forget—it almost worked for FCS opponent McNeese State in last year’s 35-27 loss in Chapel Hill.

On offense, I’d get the ball to 1st team all-America WR Andre Roberts as much as possible, whether that means employing the Wild Bulldog formation, lots of bubble screens, or consistent down field targets—I’d try to match up Roberts on CBs Jordan Hemby and Charlie Brown as much as possible because CB Kendric Burney is a shutdown guy on the other side.

I’d run lots of read-option and lots of mis-direction running plays to test whether or not all of this offseason yammering about the improved conditioning of the Tar Heel defensive line had any truth to it. Rolling out QB Bart Blanchard as much as possible would be another effective way to see how many rolls the UNC front four still has under their jerseys after a tough offseason training program. In the early going, I’d try some fireworks (flea flicker, halfback pass, double pass) to snag an early lead and silence a notoriously subdued Kenan Stadium crowd. After all, if the Bulldogs get down early and are forced to throw to come back, things will get Al Groh-sweatshirt ugly in a hurry.

North Carolina Game Plan

If I’m UNC Defensive Coordinator Everett Withers, I keep it simple in the opener. I wouldn’t want to show any of the new Tar Heel blitz packages until the Sept. 12 game at Connecticut, so I’d stick to the vanilla, tampa-2 and cover-3 defensive schemes we ran so often last year and let the defensive line try to take over the game. I’d let my players know that this is the type of game that great teams dominate at the line of scrimmage and I’d challenge them to create pressure and take away the run. The USCs, the Floridas, and the Virginia Techs of college football do not lose focus in games like this—instead, they use it as an opportunity to get better.

If Citadel WR Andre Roberts makes some big catches early, I’d try to double team him because there are no other proven receiving threats on the Bulldog roster.

Offensively, I’d preach a similar message. When great teams have major size and talent advantages, they don’t lose focus (again: see last year’s 35-27 win over FCS McNeese St). They stick it to the opponent., the premiere source of Virginia Tech football coverage, has called the UNC offense “finesse,” and justifiably so. Until the Tar Heel offensive linemen take games like this personally and start punishing opposing defensive lines, the Heels will not be a legitimate ACC title contender.

In the passing game, I would use this opportunity to see what we have. The coaches have talked about a diversification of the passing game—meaning more throws to the backs and tight ends—and this could be the perfect game to see that growth. H-Back Christian Wilson and TE Zack Pianalto have major size and speed advantages against the short Citadel linebackers, and they might be very effective working across the middle of the field.

The Citadel wins if…

–          UNC QB TJ Yates goes down early with an injury, and backup Mike Paulus struggles under pressure. The Citadel stacks 8 men in the box, forcing Paulus to throw downfield to an inexperienced group of receivers.

–         QB Bart Blanchard plays the game of his life, finishing with a few TDs and no turnovers.  Citadel WR Andre Roberts scores through the air and on a punt return while the Tar Heel receivers struggle heavily without Hakeem Nicks and Brandon Tate.

–          The Tar Heel defense gets torched by the read option, giving up 200+ yards rushing.

Tar Heel Newcomers to Watch

#98 DE Donte Paige-Moss- Moss was the the prized recruit of the 2009 Tar Heel recruiting class. Rated as the #17 overall prospect in the nation by, Moss is a talented, speed rushing end who could help inject some life into the Tar Heels pass rush. He’s currently listed as 3rd on the depth chart at Right DE behind Michael McAdoo and Robert Quinn.

#26 CB Mywan Jackson- Jackson has snuck up to 3rd on the depth chart at cornerback. This speedy Floridian could see time in nickel and dime packages.

#3 WR Josh Adams- Once rated as a 5 star WR recruit by, the 6’4 Adams enrolled last spring to get a head start on learning the offense. He’s apparently learned quickly because he’s 2nd on the depth chart at wide receiver, and already one of the Tar Heels most dangerous threats in the passing game.

#34 WR Johnny White- I’m sure you remember Johnny White, the former running back (399 yards rushing in 2007) who’s seen his name shuffled all over the depth chart. He’s not a freshman, but I included him on this list because his speed and ball skills have landed him the #2 receiver slot behind Greg Little. He’s also the starting kick returner, where he averaged over 25 yards per return last fall.

NOTE (9/3/09): Dwight Jones will be having arthroscopic knee surgery after experiencing pain in his knee earlier this week. He will not play, meaning that freshman Josh Adams will start.

Tarheeltds’ Score Prediction:

UNC 37 Citadel 9

For an in-depth breakdown of the Tar Heels offense and defense, check out some other posts from Tarheeltds!

All other posts are located at Thanks for reading, and Go Heels!


All the previewing and prognosticating that I’ve done this summer has all led to this point: the prediction of the preseason ACC standings.

If I picked your team to tumble down the standings, tough potatoes. Chances are, I’m right. Sell your season tickets, and take up golf. After all, if you’re not at the stadium for the embarrassing losses, you can’t be seen leaving early! (Basketball season’s right around the corner anyway, right?)

If you think I’m just a clueless, “arrogant” homer Tar Heel, take a closer look at my predictions…

These predictions come from my gut, but they’re informed by many, many hours of watching, listening, and reading about ACC football.

Boston College 4-8 (1-7)

Northeastern                    W 26-7

Kent State                           W 27-10

@Clemson                          L 10-30

Wake Forest                      L 16-23

Florida State                       L 13-34

@ Virginia Tech                 L 6-27

NC State                              L 24-30

@ Notre Dame                  L 16-26

Central Mich.                     W 28-24

@ Virginia                            W 17-13

North Carolina                   L 10-24

@ Maryland                       L 23-31

Clemson 8-4 (6-2)

MTSU                                    W 38-12

@ Georgia Tech                W 24-23

Boston College                  W 30-10

Texas Christian                  L 17-20

@ Maryland                       W 26-14

Wake Forest                      W 27-17

@ Miami                              L 14-21

Coastal Carolina                W 52-6

Florida State                       L 27-20

@ NCSU                               W 38-22

Virginia                                 W 30-18

@ South Car.                      L 21-20

Duke 4-8 (1-7)

Richmond                            W 16-10

@ Army                                W 28-13

@ Kansas                             L 21-38

NC Central                          W 37-11

Virginia Tech                      L 6-34

@ NC State                         L 21-31

Maryland                             L 21-27

@ Virginia                            L 20-23

@ North Carolina             L 13-30

Georgia Tech                     L 7-20

@ Miami                              L 17-26

Wake Forest                      W 23-14

Florida State 9-3 (6-2)

Miami                                   W 21-10

Jax. State                             W 49-0

@ BYU                                  W 31-28

South Florida                     W 24-20

@ BC                                     W 34-13

Georgia Tech                     L 26-18

@ North Carolina             L 24-13

NC State                              W 35-23

@ Clemson                         W 27-20

@ Wake Forest                 W 16-9

Maryland                             W 26-16

@ Florida                             L 42-10

Georgia Tech 9-3 (5-3)

Jax. State                             W 45-17

Clemson                              L 23-24

@ Miami                              W 23-22

North Carolina                   L 13-26

@ Miss. State                    W 33-7

@ FSU                                   W 26-18

Virginia Tech                      L 10-14

@ Virginia                            W 28-25

@ Vandy                              W 34-9

Wake Forest                      W 20-10

@ Duke                              W 20-7

Georgia                               W 28-17

Maryland 6-6 (3-5)

@ California                        L 23-41

JMU                                       W 33-23

Mid. Tenn. St                     W 28-10

Rutgers                                W 21-16

Clemson                              L 14-26

@ Wake                               L 20-30

Virginia                                 W 36-21

@ Duke                                  W 27-21

@ NCSU                               L 26-30

Virginia Tech                      L 9-24

@ Florida State                 L 16-26

Boston College                  W 31-23

Miami 6-6 (4-4)

@ Florida State                 L 10-21

Georgia Tech                     L 22-23

@ Virginia Tech                 L 10-19

Oklahoma                           L 16-35

Florida A&M                       W 48-0

@ UCF                                  W 31-6

Clemson                              W 21-14

@ Wake Forest                 W 26-13

Virginia                                 W 20-12

@ North Carolina             L 10-20

Duke                                     W 26-17

@ South Florida                 L 23-27

North Carolina 10-2 (6-2)

Citadel                                  W 37-9

@ UConn                             W 23-6

East Carolina                      W 22-17

@ Georgia Tech                 W 26-13

Virginia                                 W 30-17

Ga. Southern                     W 42-0

Florida State                       W 24-13

@ Virginia Tech                 L 23-13

Duke                                     W 36-20

Miami                                   W 16-7

@ Boston College            W 23-17

@ NCState                          L 26-20

NC State 7-5 (5-3)

South Carolina                   L 12-17

Murray State                     W 41-10

Gardner-Webb                 W 37-13

Pittsburgh                           L 14-21

@ Wake Forest                 W 21-20

Duke                                     W 31-21

Boston College                  W 30-24

@ Florida State                 L 23-35

Maryland                             W 30-26

Clemson                              L 22-38

@ Virginia Tech                 L 9-22

North Carolina                   W 26-20

Virginia 3-9 (1-7)

William and Mary             W 35-17

Tex. Christian                     L 10-23

@ South. Miss.                  L 27-41

@ North Carolina             L 17-30

Indiana                                 W 34-24

@ Maryland                       L 21-36

Georgia Tech                     L 25-28

Duke                                     W 23-20

@ Miami                              L 12-20

Boston College                  L 13-17

@ Clemson                         L 18-30

Virginia Tech                      L 3-24

Virginia Tech 11-1 (8-0)

Alabama                              L 10-13

Marshall                               W 40-7

Nebraska                             W 26-14

Miami                                   W 19-10

@ Duke                               W 34-6

Boston College                  W 27-6

@ Georgia Tech                  W 14-10

North Carolina                   W 23-13

@ East Carolina                 W 31-21

@ Maryland                       W 24-9

NCState                               W 22-9

@ Virginia                            W 24-3

Wake Forest 5-7 (2-6)

Baylor                                   L 34-28

Stanford                              W 23-12

Elon                                       W 43-14

@Boston College             W 23-16

NC State                              L 20-21

Maryland                             W 30-20

@ Clemson                         L 17-27

@ Navy                                 W 35-23

Miami                                   L 13-26

@ Ga. Tech                         L 10-20

Florida State                       L 9-16

@ Duke                                    L 14-23


Atlantic Division Standings




Florida State (10-3)



Clemson (8-4)



NC State (7-5)



Maryland (6-6)



Wake Forest (5-7)



Boston College (4-8)



Coastal Division Standings




Virginia Tech (11-2)



North Carolina (10-2)



Georgia Tech (9-3)



Miami (6-6)



Virginia (3-9)



Duke (4-8)



ACC Championship Game:

Florida State 21-Virginia Tech 16

Notes on this year’s ACC predictions:

1)      Coasting in the Coastal: As expected, the Coastal Division will be a lot stronger than the Atlantic Division. Virginia Tech will be the dominant team missing in the 2008 ACC, while North Carolina and Georgia Tech will both contend for New Year’s bowl games. On the other hand, the Atlantic Division will have a down year. Like the Coastal, they might just send 3-4 teams to bowls; however, the bowls Atlantic teams will be attending will be on blue fields and obscure TV networks.

2)      Where’s the mediocrity? In 2008, the ACC sent 10 teams to bowls, but none of them were threats at a National Title. In 2009, the ACC will be a lot more top-heavy, sending 7 teams to much better bowl destinations.

3)      Just bein’ frank: Frank Spaziano’s BC team will be terrible after the losses of BJ Raji, Ron Brace, and Mark Herzlich. Dave Shinskie will not be the answer at quarterback—in his quest for anyone who can throw a pass, Spaziano and Doug Flutie will petition the NCAA for a 5th year of eligibility.

4)      Spread Thin: Gregg Brandon’s offensive spread experiment will be 4-5 fries short of an Offensive Happy Meal in Charlottesville. Al Groh will try to save his job in January by quoting his NFL résumé, but UVa AD Craig Littlepage will sting him with a touch of Jefferson: “Don’t talk about what you have done or what you are going to do”—Yes, Al—that includes that “touted” recruiting class that’s coming in next fall to save the program…

5)      Bowden Bashes: Florida State has another strong season while Miami falters again—Randy Shannon moves to the hot seat while Bobby Bowden moves a little bit closer to catching Joe Paterno.

Sometimes, I doze off and BCS dreams dance like Zebra Cakes in my (probably delusional) head. Then, these four questions bubble to the top of my head like annoying internet pop-up ads…

1) Will UNC be able to generate a pass rush?

This might be the key to a successful season for UNC this fall. Undoubtedly, the loss of 5 draft picks on the offensive side of the ball shifts a lot of weight onto the defense’s shoulders this fall. As talented as the team was last year, the Heels defense finished 11th in the ACC with just 22 sacks. The starters on the super-talented defensive line combined for just 5 sacks, just 1 sack more than Ralph Friedgen’s chin.

Did someone mention Zebra Cakes?
Did someone mention Zebra Cakes?

I chalk that extremely low number up to a few things.

First of all, I think the line spent a little bit too much time on the buffet lines last year. Massive tackles Cam Thomas and Marvin Austin (each 300 lb plus last year) certainly needed bulk to clog opponents’ run games, but they were embarrassingly slow in QB scramble situations. Russell Wilson, Pat White, Chris Turner, and even Marc Verica picked the Heels apart last year because the defensive linemen simply did not have the speed to chase them down. According to senior DT Cam Thomas, this year’s slightly slimmer, definitely deeper crop of defensive linemen will be chasing plays 20-30 yards downfield. Uh oh. John Blake’s defensive line should be fresher as well with the return of all 8 players from the two deep and the addition of 4 star DT Jared McAdoo and 5 star speed rushing DE Donte Paige-Moss.

Even with all that depth, the defense won’t produce too many sacks without a more aggressive mindset from Defensive Coordinator Everett Withers. His Tampa-2, zone-heavy scheme helped force a lot of turnovers last fall, but it also gave opposing QBs way too much time. UVa’s Marc Verica could have read Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom in the pocket on the Wahoos’ 80 yard 1 minute drive to tie the Heels late in Charlottesville. (After the game Verica talked about how easy it was to recognize the Cover-2 on the final drive—and his 8 TD and 16 INT last year don’t exactly speak highly of his QB vision…)  Supposedly, the defensive scheme will be much more aggressive this year. If the defense doesn’t amp up the pass rush, it might be dancing its way to the Music City Bowl, and that would be a major underachievement.

2) Can UNC run the ball effectively?

In 4 of UNC’s 5 losses last fall, the Heels had an atrocious running game. In a 20-17 loss to VT, the Heels could have made it a lot harder on the Hokies by running the ball (and the clock) in the 4th quarter, but they simply couldn’t do it. Take away his 50 yard TD in the 3rd quarter and Greg Little had 21 yards on 17 carries vs. the Hokies. Gross. The Heels had a wimpy 56, 75, and 93 yards, respectively, in losses to NCSU, Maryland, and West Virginia.

It is possible for UNC to run the football on stout ACC defenses. After all, they did run for 186 yards on a Georgia Tech defense featuring 3 NFL draft picks on the d-line in Michael Johnson, Vance Walker and Daryl Richard. However, the Heels will have to do it this fall with just 3 returning starters on the offensive line and almost no depth there. (Aaron Stahl, Garrett Reynolds, Calvin Darity, Carl Gaskins and Kevin Bryant were all lost to graduation, injury, or other reasons this summer).  Unless UNC’s running improves like Forest Gump’s, this could be yet another weak offensive team in the ACC.

3) Can TJ Yates and the O-line stay off the trainer’s table?

After backup QB-extraordinaire Cam Sexton transferred from the program this spring, Mike Paulus re-inherited the 2nd string QB position. The mere thought of a Paulus quarterbacking our football team in the event of a Yates injury terrifies me. Last year, VT D-Coordinator Bud Foster slap chopped Mike’s confidence, forcing him to go 3-8 for 23 yards and 2 INT. He followed with a 1/4 performance against Miami before getting yanked for the rest of the season. Given the probable pressure that UNC QBs will face this year and Mike Paulus’ Chris Rix-esque decision making, the Heels simply cannot afford to lose Yates.

If Mike Paulus plays, it'll be like this. Except not quite as embarrassing.
If Mike Paulus plays, it’ll be like this. Except not quite as embarrassing.

Equally important is the health of the offensive line. There are currently 3 true freshmen in the 2 deep on the offensive line after a Final Destination type of offseason for the returning players at the position. (Carl Gaskins tore his ACL, Kevin Bryant transferred after an incident with the law, and Aaron Stahl quit football.) Any major injuries—especially to senior Left Tackle Kyle Jolly would probably mean disaster for UNC’s hopes of going to a respectable bowl.

4) Will Charlie Brown give the Heels a 2nd reliable CB?

Junior CB Charlie Brown was a good man in 2007, picking up 59 tackles, a key INT for TD against NCSU and all-ACC freshman honors. However, he struggled with injuries in 2008 and lost his job to Jordan Hemby. Consequently, teams threw the ball all over UNC at times in 2008. Brown has already won back his starting slot. If he can win back his confidence as corner in man coverage, the UNC defense could be one of the best 10 defenses in the nation.

Answer these 4 questions, Tar Heels, and we’ll be a top 10 team at season’s end. If not, MUFFLER BOWL HERE WE COME!

ACC All-Name Team

College football players are constantly divvied up onto preseason, midseason, 1/3 season and post-season all conference, all state, all-dormitory and all-America teams by tupee-wearing know-it-alls (Kiper…) and bored journalists alike.

"Dude! Mel Kiper named me 3rd team long-snapper on his All-sophomore, recovering from ankle-surgery special teamers list!"

"Dude! Mel Kiper named me 3rd team long-snapper on his All-sophomore, recovering from ankle-surgery special teamers list!"

Throughout their careers, they are branded and ordered and herded and stamped and slapped on the butt like so many cattle at an auction.

In the midst of all this performance based hype, I think sometimes we all forget to look at the shallow side of these players. Not only is the ACC blessed with boatloads of talent and hard work (on defense anyway), it’s also blessed with some of the best names in the country.

Today, I want to give a shout-out to the best-named players in the ACC. These folks might have never played a down, but today, that doesn’t matter. On the date of their births, these special players were destined for the college football Hall of Name—an exclusive pantheon of the creatively deemed— alongside Taco Wallace, Pork Chop Womack, Chris Biankabatuka and other all-time greats. You can bet they put their name tags front and center at meet-and-greets, and they should. These players have some of the best names in the country.

QB Ju-ju Clayton (2nd team: Jaybo Shaw, GT and Cannon Smith, Miami)

This was probably the hardest decision for me on the entire All-ACC team. Clayton, Shaw, and Smith all share one of the truly mysterious name patterns in college football: mobile quarterbacks with bland last names and spicy first names (see: Juice Williams, Akili Smith, D’Vontrey Richardson…and many, many more). However, Tech’s 2nd string QB wins this battle due to the infinite, pun-ridden nickname possibilities his name presents us.

Potential nicknames: The Ju-Ju Train, (Ju)Jumanji

RB Keith Payne, Virginia

Keith hasn’t inflicted a lot of Payne on defenses in his uneventful Virginia career (255 career rushing yards), but with his size and his name, he sure looks like he could. And if he does, fans will have a bevy of nicknames to knight him with.

Potential nicknames: Major Payne, House of Payne, Payne Man

RB Montel Harris, BC

Montel makes the all-ACC names team, due to the success of Montel Williams, whose talk show earned him an Emmy Award in 1996 and imprinted his awesome name into the conscience of America. Despite having an all-conference first name, Harris has a better chance at winning an Emmy than he does of winning an ACC-title this season.

Potential Emmy Award Winning TV shows: “True Life-My Quarterback’s a 30 year old freshman” starring BC QB Dave Shinskie and Harris and featuring footage from BC’s soon to be disastrous 2009 season.

WR Taiwan Easterling, FSU

Tywon is a popular enough name, but the Asian-region spelling, combined with the “East” that appears in his last name gives Taiwan’s name quite a bit of qi and positive harmony.

Potential TD celebration: Putting a “Made in Taiwan” sticker on the football after scoring.

WR Joey McQueeney, MD

McQueeney has a pretty tolerable name—but when McDonald’s starts making hot dogs, he’s in trouble.

TE George George, VT

George might not have a number (seriously—check the roster—he doesn’t have a number), but he has an all-American, pancake block of a name. It’s short, it’s succinct, and it leaves no room for mix-ups. His name is George, and he’ll be damned if you think it’s anything else.

Potential Theme Song: George, George, George of the Jungle

OL Omoregie Uzzi, GT

Uzzi was once a 4 star recruit on the defensive line. His last name is the name of a mob weapon, so it’s not surprising that Omoregie has some enormous guns (he benches 340 lb.).

OL Zebrie Sanders, FSU

Zebrie has certainly earned his stripes on Rick Trickett’s dominant offensive line.

OL Andy Barbee, NCSU

Barbee could probably take on a mother grizzly bear, but his name sure isn’t scaring anyone.

OL Joe Looney, Wake Forest

OL Kyle Jolly, UNC

Don’t be fooled by the name. He’s 6’6 and he’ll pancake you in a second. Jolly is one of few all-ACC name-teamers that actually starts, in his case at left tackle.

K Nathan O’Jibway, FSU


DL Euclid Cummings, GT

Aside from his prowess in geometry (probably), Cummings has proved (or should I say proofed) to be a pretty solid football player. He hasn’t seen much of the field, but he has a scholarship, so what can I say.

Potential Commentary Pun: “Euclid really took a great angle to the football on that play, Jim.”

DL JR Sweezy, NCSU

JR’s definitely got a pretty sick name—literally. Sweezy—according to—is slang for swine flu. Hopefully for NCSU, he’ll make offensive coordinators sick this fall, but if he doesn’t, he’s got a great name to fall back on.

DL Boo Robinson, Wake Forest

Boo is (as he should be with that name) a scary opponent to face on the interior defensive line.

DL Masengo Kabongo, MD

Kabongo might be forced into action this season, and if he is, he’ll do so with one of the ACC’s best-flowing names.

LB Gelo Orange, Wake Forest

I always enjoy a cup of Orange Jello, so this is an easy choice.

LB Barquell Rivers, VT

This name needs no explanation. Simply genius.

LB Mister Alexander, FSU

Before Alexander, I’d never seen the male version of the name Missy. Mr. Mister must have mustered lots of courage up to convince Mrs. Mister to name their son Mister.

CB LeCount Fantroy, UNC

LeCount (Dracula) sucks the offensive blood from opposing wide receivers—for the UNC 2nd team defensive backfield.

CB Ras-I Dowling, Virginia

Dowling might be the best football player on the all-names team. He’ll certainly challenge for first team all-ACC honors this fall for his actual on-field performance.

S Junior Petit-Jean, Wake Forest

This sounds like a UVa offensive lineman name (see Ian Yates-Cunningham) —sophisticated, French-y, and soft as a Kleenex. ‘Junior Petit-Jean’ could also be the name of a small, private pre-school for rich children.

S Sadat Chambers, Clemson

Chambers is one Sadat who doesn’t like to make peace with offensive players—or at least, I don’t think he does. He hasn’t really played much, but his name—presumably a dedication to the late Anwar Sadat of Egypt—is world class.

P CJ Feagles, UNC