Rutgers-North Carolina: Players to Watch

In any football game, a few players stand out as game changers. We saw that in Week 1, as Fresno State had several players make a difference in a victory over Rutgers. This week we take a look at players to watch in the Thursday night matchup between the Scarlet Knights (0-1) and North Carolina (1-0).

PLAYERS TO WATCH (NORTH CAROLINA)

WR Brandon Tate
Tate is one of those players who can make things happen every time he touches the ball. He is deadly in the kick return game and is the all-time Atlantic Coast Conference leader in kickoff return yards. He needed just 11 touches to rack up 397 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns against McNeese State. Rutgers will have its hands full with Tate, who nearly broke a kickoff return for a touchdown against RU two years ago.

QB T.J. Yates
The sophomore signal caller threw for more than 2,500 yards in 2007, but he threw 18 interceptions compared with 14 touchdowns and was forced to undergo surgery on his right shoulder in the offseason. Yates was a serviceable 15-for-26 for 221 yards, two TDs and one interception in North Carolina's season-opening victory against McNeese State.

WR Hakeem Nicks
Tate grabbed all UNC's headlines in Week 1, but Nicks is North Carolina's most consistent receiver. He was UNC's leading receiver a year ago, catching 74 passes for 958 yards (a school record) and five touchdowns and earning second team All-ACC honors. Nicks hauled in six receptions for 110 yards against McNeese State, including a 71-yarder. The junior made his collegiate debut against Rutgers in 2006 and registered seven catches for 63 yards.


PLAYERS TO WATCH (RUTGERS)

QB Mike Teel
His first game this season was flat. Teel threw two interceptions and zero touchdown passes in the opener against Fresno State and completed just 20 of his 39 passing attempts. His first interception on a flea flicker in the first half took the wind out of Rutgers' sails, and Teel was never in a rhythm with his receivers. RU had success operating out of a no-huddle offense in Week 1, so don't be surprised to see some of the same to get Teel into a comfort zone.

S Joe Lefeged
Expect the hard-hitting true sophomore to get the start again this week at the strong spot opposite senior Courtney Greene. Lefeged made waves last year in the Rutgers secondary as a capable replacement for Ron Girault during the latter's injury. He had seven tackles, including a big hit on Fresno State quarterback Tom Brandstater, in the opener and brings a much-needed edge to the defense.

LB Ryan D'Imperio
The junior was gunning for a starting spot on the 2007 roster before breaking his leg and taking most of the year to get back into form. He looked solid in the opener on Sept. 1, registering a career-high eight tackles against Fresno State. He is going to be needed against a talented receiving corps that throws different looks at the defense and comes across the middle of the field often.


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