Pass offense vs. Wake pass defense –
Durant is the quarterback de jour for the afternoon. How well he does depends on how well he crams for Saturday's game. He missed practice on Tuesday and Wednesday along with the all important film breakdown of Wake Forest on Tuesday and Wednesday before practice. Therefore, outside of Thursday's hour of film, Durant will need to watch and learn on his own. He is a gamer, no doubt, and should have a good day against the number 6 passing defense in the league.
If UNC has a quarterback rotation, Durant will rotate with Aaron Leak, who is the only player on the team with an arm to rival Curry, and can stretch the defense with a long ball.
Do not expect much of a passing offense until Durant feels comfortable with the defense he sees or the running game is ineffective. UNC does not want Leak to feel he needs to win this game on his arm, though he is fully capable of doing just that.
This is the offensive key to the game. "This is a defense unlike any we have seen before," says Strength and Conditioning Coach Connors. Well said, coach. The Tar Heels will see a 3-3-5 defense, which is the new fad in college football. The OL must be smart and recognize delayed blitzes, safety blitzes, combo blitzes, and stunts. Wake can bring the house and the kitchen sink. Whoever the quarterback is must read the blitz, audible, and run a better play.
Run offense vs. Wake rushing defense –
Coming off their performance in the Georgia Tech game, I'm sure that Andre Williams, Willie Parker, Jacque Lewis, and Madison Hedgecock feel they have absolutely nothing to prove against a Wake Forest. Yeah. Right.
Particularly since that WFU defense has been porous at times this year, and averages 152 yards a game (sixth in the ACC) against the run.
There is quite a bit of anger penned up in the backfield ready to unleash its fury. This could be a fun aspect of the game to watch. Also keep an eye on the offensive line, as coaches Caldwell and Browning both harped on the run blocking this week – something MIA last Thursday.
Virginia last week ran roughshod against the Wake Forest offense, but for some reason went away from Alvin Pearman in preference for the five-wide. Huh? That is most of the reason they lost… sorry coach.
Read and react –
How well can the dual-quarterbacks read off the field? Game adjustments will happen every series, and more passing will be added as wthe game progresses.
Keep on your blocks --
The 3-3-5 is weird, and relies on athletic players that can take on a block and release. The linebackers are small, but will hit.
Keep catching the ball –
The WRs did a great job against Georgia Tech finding holes and watching the ball come into their bodies. They must fight off the man defense this week, and outplay the less-talented defense.
Wake pass vs. UNC pass defense –
What passing game? Wake is next to last in the league in passing efficiency, last in pass offense, so they don't expect to throw the ball against the best pass efficiency defense and overall pass defense in the league. When they do so, it will be short, to the outside, or on a trick play. Against Virginia, they threw the ball nineteen times, and none for longer than 20 yards (in the air). Quarterback James MacPherson has no arm to scare you, and will throw more than one wounded duck. Even with the fewest passes in the ACC, they are fifth in most interceptions thrown. Not a good sign for Coach Grobe. Peppers' sack total should be limited to quick tackles.
Wake running game vs. UNC rush defense –
This is where the outcome of the game rests. Wake runs a multiple formation offense, mostly with 4 WRs. The difference between what they run and the normal spread offense is you do not know where the WRs will line up. They could line up in a shotgun formation (a passing formation) or 2 could line up as wingbacks in a double-wing formation (a running formation). Either way, UNC should use a 4-2-5 defense with 8 in the box to stop the run. Again, that is 4 defensive linemen, 2 linebackers, and 2 defensive backs in the "box."'
Tarence Williams returns after missing the Virginia game, and could provide a spark for the Wake offense up the middle. The 5-10, 180 lb running back is less of a power runner than Staton, but he likes to meet you in the pile.
Will the UNC rush defense against Maryland, Georgia Tech, and ECU show up? Or will they play as they did against FSU and Clemson? UNC had to respect the quarterbacks for each of those schools (Maryland still did not run rampant the Tar Heels). MacPherson and Young (the second-sting QB who will get some snaps) will run first, pass second.
Linebacker and Safety play --
How many times does the Burns run with Chris Curry flying all over him run through your mind? Any time I think of Georgia Tech or even see gold, that's the first thing that runs through my mind. The coaches, I am sure, are going back through the basics of form tackling. Shedding blocks is a must, and Wake will cut block you all day. We will see just how agile the UNC LB's and DL play.
How big is your head –
Last week UNC's was too big, and forgot that anybody on any given day, with the right amount of precision and preparation can win. They need to make sure their heads are screwed on correctly, but not totally deflated.
Take that ball –
Peppers missed a big fumble. Waddell missed a big acrobatic interception. Both on the same drive, which wound up an 11 play drive ending at the 1, but killed the defense. Make a play, get the ball, and hold on to it.
Special Teams –
I promise that the Wake return man will have some nightmares on Sunday morning. Coach Huxtable's unit killed any type of momentum UNC had in the Georgia Tech game, and is ready for revenge.
Wake is not that talented, but they are well coached, well disciplined, and well conditioned. They would rather out run you in the mile than beat you in the 40. This game will come down to either a quick score or the 4th quarter. Should be a good one.
UNC Players of the game:
Andre Williams – 25 rushes, 125 yards 2 TDs
Bosley Allen – 4 catches, 65 yards 1 TD
David Thornton – 12 tackles, 3 TFL, fumble recovery
Julius Peppers – 5 tackles, 1 sack, TD
Dexter Reid – 4 tackles, 1 INT
Prediction: UNC 27 - Wake Forest 14