Two-A-Days: North Carolina

In the final day of two-a-day sessions, we wrap up our look at the 2009 schedule for the Boston College Eagles. By the final two weeks of the season, the Eagles will still have a chance to post a winning season. To do that they will have to win one of their final games. The morning session is about the final home games of the season, the North Carolina Tar Heels.

Last Year: Last year was a bit of downer for this program. Many thought they were ready to break out and make a run at the Coastal Division title. Instead, they fell to 4-and-4 in conference and were relegated to the Charlotte Bowl. They lost that game to West Virginia. UNC lost three of their final four games of the season.

The big issue for them was the defense. They finished second to last in total defense and seventh in scoring defense. The pass defense was particularly bad, allowing 226 yards per game, despite posting the second best interception rate in the league. The picks somewhat masked the fact this unit had trouble getting off of the field at times.

The offense was very good at times, but instability at quarterback created problems at the end of the season Cam Sexton was very good at times, but injuries forced him to miss time. T.J. Yates also showed flashes, but was erratic and hampered by injuries as well. Despite having the best receiving corp in the conference, the passing game struggle toward the end of the season.

Why They Could Be Better: The defense could be outstanding if everyone stays healthy and plays up to expectations. They return three of their front four, including Marvin Austin. He may be the best tackle in the conference. This is also a very big front four, averaging 300 pounds. Despite the size, they are a very athletic group.

The linebackers also look very good. Bruce Carter and Quan Sturdivant are back from last year. They add the freakish athletic ability of Zach Brown to the mix at weak side. This is a kid who has been electronically times at under 4.4. and he is a linebacker. This may be the fastest groups of linebackers in the ACC.

The other area that should be better is the passing game. T.J. Yates is back and healthy. He is not going to be a mobile guy that breaks down defenses with his feet, but he can sling it if he has the time. Even with limited play last year, he showed he can be a very accurate passer. With more experience and the confidence that comes with being a starter, he should have a better season.

Why They Could Be Worse: The Tar Heels lost all of their top receivers from last season. Hakeem Nicks, Brooks Foster and Brandon Tate are gone. The new group has very little experience and none of the raw talent we saw from last year's squad.

The offensive line is a question. They break in new starters on the right side and have depth concerns. Several true freshmen are listed in the two-deep. This was not a unit that set the world on fire last season. It is likely they will need some time to gel. Injuries could turn an average unit into a very bad one.

The one area that looks to be a strength may be a problem. The defensive line is stacked, but they failed to generate much of a pass rush last season. Maybe it was inexperience, maybe it was the scheme. Pass rush is about technique. This group is big and fast, but they need to show they can use skill to get into the backfield.

What To Expect: This may be the toughest defense Boston College faces this season. They are big up front and very fast in the secondary. For a team that wants to play smash mouth and play action, this is a not a great match-up. The Eagles will struggle to move the ball against these guys.

The good news is UNC is not going to be a tough match-up for the defense. The relative lack of speed at receiver means BC can be more aggressive in their coverage and blitz packages. They will want to put pressure on Yates and hope he makes some mistakes.

Prediction: UNC has the better defense and the slightly better offense. Unless the weather plays a factor, the edge goes to the men in baby blue. UNC 17 BC 13


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