Maryland Opponent Preview: North Carolina Tar Heels
By Matt Zenitz
When: Nov. 3, 2007
Time: 3:45 p.m.
TV: ESPN U
Radio: Terrapins Radio Network
Butch Davis' North Carolina team has struggled this year en route to a 2-6 record. The Tar Heels have been competitive in the majority of their losses, losing four games by an average of just over four points a game before getting blown out by Wake Forest last week.
North Carolina has not been able to move the ball on the ground all season, ranking 103rd in the country in rush offense. The passing attack has been decent. Sophomore Hakeem Nicks entered the season as the leading returning receiver in the ACC, and he is on pace to eclipse his totals from last season when he set North Carolina freshman records for catches and yards. Brooks Foster is another big target for red-shirt freshman quarterback T.J Yates. The offensive line has not done a good job opening running lanes for red-shirt freshman Johnny White or protecting Yates, giving up more than three sacks a game.
The defense is much better than last year, especially against the run. Red-shirt freshman Deunta Williams has made the move from wide receiver to free safety, and his three interceptions lead the team. Freshman defensive tackle Marvin Austin, a five-star recruit out of Ballou High School in Washington, D.C., has provided valuable pressure from the defensive line since being inserted into the starting lineup halfway through the season. Aside from Austin, the defensive line does not generate much pressure, but senior Hilee Taylor is a good pass rusher from his outside linebacker position and leads the team with eight sacks.
Player to watch: DT Kentwan Balmer
Inconsistent and an underachiever his first few years at North Carolina, Balmer has developed into a force against the run with a rare blend of athleticism, quickness and strength. The 6-foot-5, 295-pound Balmer is able to consistently beat double teams with his physical tools and is second on North Carolina with 43 tackles. If he can continue to improve and show the consistency he lacked during his first three years, Balmer should be a first-day pick in the NFL Draft.
Head coach Butch Davis, offensive coordinator John Shoop, defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano
North Carolina 20
Issue 2.44: November 1, 2007