Game Day: UNC vs. Maryland

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – North Carolina's postseason hopes were dealt a devastating blow last Saturday, meaning the Tar Heels must win out to be bowl eligible. It will be a playoff mentality in Kenan Stadium when the Maryland Terrapins arrive in town for a 3:45pm kickoff (ESPNU) on Saturday.

North Carolina (2-6, 1-3 ACC) showed steady improvement in a victory over Miami and in close losses to South Carolina and Virginia Tech. But that positive momentum took a turn for the worse with a 37-10 loss in Winston-Salem last weekend. An inefficient offense and disastrous special teams play offset a solid defensive performance against the defending ACC champions.

"We certainly have to be a much more consistent football team [and] eliminate some penalties to have a chance to be in the game and have a chance to win," head coach Butch Davis said.

But the Tar Heels were not alone in their disappointment on Saturday, as Maryland (4-4, 1-3 ACC) fell behind 30-3 to Clemson before two late scores made the final total a little more respectable.

"This is a really important one," Friedgen said. "North Carolina is a team that is very talented and very young. I see them getting better each and every week. They play very well at home and I think the fact that we are getting them at their place and very late in the season is going to be a real test for us."

The Terrapins have been decimated with injuries this fall, and enter Saturday's contest in Chapel Hill without offensive guards Andrew Crummey (fibula) and LG Jaimie Thomas (fibula), while tackles Scott Burley (ankle) and Bruce Campbell (ankle) are listed as questionable. Starting tight end Dan Gronkowski (knee) will also miss Saturday's contest, while backup quarterback Chris Turner will start in place of Jordan Steffy, who is probable for Friedgen's squad.

But despite the problems on the offensive side of the ball, seniors Keon Lattimore (680 yards, 10 touchdowns) and senior Lance Ball (472 yards, 9 touchdowns) have combined to form one of the top rushing duos in the conference, as both players are averaging over four yards per carry.

"They have two good running backs," sophomore defensive end E.J. Wilson said. "Like the defense does every week, we've got to go out and try to stop the run, and the secondary has to cover their receivers, so if we do that, I feel like we can come out victorious."

Both teams have played well in stretches, but fundamental errors have led to number of losses for each squad – missed assignments, poor tackling, interceptions, etc. With four games remaining, Maryland must overcome its injury issues just as North Carolina must prevail over its youth and depth concerns.

Turner's comments earlier this week about the final four games of the season applies to both teams in attendance for UNC's Homecoming game.

"We have to take it one game at a time," Turner said. "We want to go to a bowl, a really good bowl. The season is not lost. We have four games left and if we take it one game at a time and treat it like a playoff situation, that approach should be good for us."


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