Time: 3:30 p.m., Rutgers Stadium
Series: Rutgers leads, 3-1
Last meeting: Sept. 11, 2008: North Carolina 44, Rutgers 12
Coaches: Rutgers –Greg Schiano (10th season, 53-51); North Carolina – Butch Davis 20-20, fourth season, 71-40 10th overall)
- Rutgers won its first two games, but this is the first true test. Despite a defensive ravaged by injuries, North Carolina is extremely talented. If Rutgers wins this game, it could foreshadow what could happen in a wide open (and mediocre) Big East Conference.
- Can Rutgers quarterback Tom Savage fix what ails him, mainly his accuracy and his decision-making in throwing the ball down the field? He has heard about it for two weeks.
- Suspensions, suspensions, suspensions. The Tar Heels defense is a shell of what it should be, although it is still pretty good, because suspensions stemming from an NCAA investigation. In total, North Carolina has 12 players suspended.
Two blocks came through the middle, one came from the right side and another came from the left side.
Second, the defense will force turnovers and play aggressively. Rutgers has six takeaways and 10 tackles for loss in two games, and what it lacks in size is made up for in speed. Also, Rutgers defensive front four are playing very well, and their quickness and tenacity are giving offensive line's fits.
Third, the offensive line cannot block. Part of Savage's struggles are on him, but a good portion goes to the offensive line, which has yielded a staggering 14 plays for loss and accounted for 19 points and 172 yards of offense at Florida International.
The offensive line is unsettled allowed five sacks in the first two games and the running game is churning out 83.5 yards per game. The passing numbers (310.5 ypg) are skewed because the Tar Heels have played from behind in both games. But the offensive line has maturity on the right side in a pair of seniors in right tackle Mike Ingersoll and right guard Alan Pelc.
Defensively is where the issues lie as defensive tackle Marvin Austin and defensive end Robert Quinn remain suspended., as does the Tar Heels starting secondary of cornerbacks Kendric Burney and Charles Brown, free safety Deunta Williams and strong safety Da'Norris Searcy.
The result has been an unexpected youth movement that, while showing flashes of potential, has The linebackers are the strength of the defense and are big and physical players.
|Rutgers SS Joe Lefeged|
2. Communication in the secondary. If Yates has time to throw, if will take chances down the field, so the coverage better be there or Rutgers will get beat for a quick score over the top.
3. Convert third-and-short. Rutgers has yet to prove it has a bread-and-butter play for third-and-1 or third-and-2, but it must come up with a way to convert and keep the offense moving.
2. Power the ball down the field. Rutgers' defense is built to defend the pass and pursue to the football, and the best way offset that is to run between the tackles and minimize the Scarlet Knights' speed and athleticism.
3. Score early. Not only will it be close to a sellout, but getting an early lead will do a pair of things. First, it gives UNC confidence and the feeling it isn't sinking again. Second, Rutgers is not built to come from far behind.