Jim Hawkins/Inside Carolina

Inside Carolina Staff Chat: Heels Hitting Their Stride

Inside Carolina's staff convened for a free-for-all chat in advance of North Carolina's game at Duke.

Buck Sanders - Welcome to another IC Staff Chat. We’re going to discuss the UNC-Duke contest today, the rivalry,  and other issues surrounding this game. Opinions vary between “This should be a blowout win,” and “This could be a close contest.” What says the panel?

Tommy Ashley - Should be a blowout.  Will still be surprised if it is.

Dijana Kunovac - I'm calling a blowout win.

Buck Sanders - Maybe fill in that picture a little for us. Why so?

Dijana Kunovac - A few things: 1. UNC has really hits its stride this season on both sides of the ball and I feel like this defense is finally a little trustworthy. 2. Last time this team played at Wallace Wade it was ELECTRIC - I honestly couldn't sleep that night just being on the sidelines. and 3. The Victory Bell drama ... just added fuel to the fire.  

Greg Barnes - I’m sticking with the blowout win here as well. Everybody points to the Louisville game for Duke’s potential, but don’t forget the Cards missed two field goals in that game and lost a fumble inside the 5. That was a three-point game late that was never in doubt. Cutcliffe talked this week about UNC’s balanced offensive approach might be even more difficult to defend because Louisville’s offense is called Lamar Jackson.

Buck Sanders - Good points. Tommy?

Tommy Ashley - I'm thinking a UVa/Illinois type evening, but Buck you know anything can happen these days and usually does in Duke-Carolina. A 10-14 point comfortable win and Carolina coming out healthy would be ideal for this team.

Dijana Kunovac - Yeah I think they need to establish the lead and KEEP it.

Tommy Ashley - Trubisky's steadiness is certainly a reason to think blowout though.  The guy doesn't get flustered.

Jason Staples - I'm going with a double-digit win as well. 

Buck Sanders - To play devil’s advocate a moment, Dijana, no one has blown out Duke this year.

Tommy Ashley - Exactly.

Dijana Kunovac - A good point. They seem to keep teams on their toes but honestly every time I think Carolina is gonna struggle in a game they prove me wrong and daggumit I'm tired of being wrong!

Tommy Ashley - One thing different though, it's Carolina and Duke.  No way Carolina sleeps on the Devils like say a Louisville did.

Buck Sanders - That’s the question: Did Louisville sleep on Duke? Did everyone? On the other hand, they are 3-6, with no ACC wins. They lost to UVa at home.

Tommy Ashley - I stand by my prognostication.

Jason Staples - Yes, Louisville did sleep on Duke. They're maybe 5th or 6th on the UL schedule in order of importance. Duke's run offense combined with a quarterback who is really starting to look comfortable.

Dijana Kunovac - I think Duke is always kind of slept on - despite the success Cutcliffe has had. But I think UNC has figured out that they need to come out strong in these types of games.

Buck Sanders - Well, they certainly have the last two years, and this UNC team is beginning to hit its stride, get healthier; they are trending in the right direction.

Tommy Ashley - Sounds familiar.  Ha.

Dijana Kunovac - What do we think are going to be the key matchups exactly?

Buck Sanders - UNC run defense vs. Duke run offense, Dijana, no question.

Tommy Ashley - Buck, that key will always be key in any Carolina game.

Buck Sanders - In this case, particularly so I think.

Jason Staples - Duke's diversity in terms of run blocking packages and their determination to play physical makes it especially so, I agree Buck.

Buck Sanders - I was actually shocked at how well they ran the ball against Virginia Tech.

Jason Staples - Me too, Buck. They really took it to VaTech up front, and that's not a bad front.

Greg Barnes - There’s really nothing about this Duke team that looks concerning to me as far as matchups go. Yes, UNC may have its hands full with Duke trying to run the ball, but there isn’t a Nick Chubb, Dalvin Cook or Justin Thomas on the other side of the LOS. With Elijah Hood back to full health, I don’t see Duke holding UNC under 30 points or scoring more than 30. Turnovers are the great equalizer, but there’s nothing to suggest that will fall in Duke’s favor.

Dijana Kunovac - I think Daniel Jones has surprised a lot of people this year.

Jason Staples - Agree, Dijana. Another feather in Cutcliffe's hat in terms of QB development. I think Jones is actually better at this point than Sirk would have been.

Dijana Kunovac - The injuries have really hindered that Duke team and that's something Carolina can and obviously will take advantage of. Daniel Jones is the only beacon of hope on offense at this point.

Tommy Ashley - Seriously I think Carolina comes out sharp but Duke is a decent team.  MT is difference.  Like I said, he doesn't get flustered.

Jason Staples - It's all about UNC controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.

Buck Sanders - Okay, there has been some blowout discussions - anyone want to name a score?

Jason Staples - I'll take a stab at it: 45-24, Heels. 

Tommy Ashley - 48-30

Dijana Kunovac - Hmm, I'll go 45-28 Carolina. And the secondary gets an INT this game.

Buck Sanders - Wow, you guys all know that no one has scored 40 on Duke this year, right?

Jason Staples - They've played exactly one good passing team: Notre Dame, who scored 38. Carolina is more balanced than ND and has more consistent weapons at WR. I'll stick to my projection. 

Tommy Ashley - And ND is terrible.

Dijana Kunovac - Mitch + TJ Logan continuing to do what he does + Elijah Hood having his best games = 45 points.

Buck Sanders - Well, in contrast to last week, I am going closer on this one, UNC wins, but I am going with 35-28.

Tommy Ashley - What's the wager here?

Jason Staples - A pair of Dijana's shoes?

Buck Sanders - I think it will be closer than expected. I don’t know, Tommy, Lunch? Winner’s choice? We’ll wrap this up while Tommy’s thinking about it. Thanks guys (and Dijana).

Tommy Ashley - Works for me!  Angus Barn serve lunch?

Dijana Kunovac - My shoes are considered priceless, thank you.

The Participants
Tommy Ashley - Co-host of the Inside Carolina podcast and contributor since 1998.
Greg Barnes - Inside Carolina's highly esteemed beat writer since 2007.
Mike Ingersoll - Former UNC offensive lineman ('07-10), current UNC law student and Inside Carolina analyst.
Dijana Kunovac - Video production coordinator at Inside Carolina from 2011-15, now back on part-time basis.
Buck Sanders - Daily football columnist and Inside Carolina's president since 2000.
Jason Staples - Former FSU WR, now QB coach with a PhD from UNC and Inside Carolina's Xs and Os analyst since 2013.

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