UNC - Clemson Pregame Matchups and Predictions

by - Correspondent -

Saturday’s Clemson-UNC matchup features two 1-2 teams attempting to bounce back from losses to top-ten opponents. A loss for the Tarheels drops them to 0-3 in the ACC and seriously threatens North Carolina’s chances for a seventh-straight bowl appearance. A win for the Tigers could give Clemson a 2-0 record in the ACC and legitimizes the Tigers as an ACC challenger.

QUARTERBACKS- Brandon Streeter is lucky to be walking, much less playing, after the beating he took at the hands of Virginia Tech’s ferocious pass rush. While Streeter spent much of the night picking himself off the turf, he also managed to complete 27 passes in 42 attempts. With any help from his offensive line, Streeter could have a big day against UNC’s young secondary. Ronald Curry comes into Saturday’s game as the Tarheels’ leading rusher while struggling with the passing game. If Clemson can keep Curry in the pocket, the sophomore quarterback could be in for a long afternoon.

Advantage: Clemson

RUNNING BACKS- With Rufus Brown out with an injury, sophomore Anthony Saunders has stepped into the starting tailback role for North Carolina. However, true freshman Daniel Davis has been the Tarheels' most effective weapon in the backfield, averaging nearly six yards per carry on 13 attempts. Clemson continued to search for a running attack against Virginia Tech with limited success. Travis Zachery showed flashes but the Tigers still struggled for consistency on the ground.

Advantage: North Carolina

UNC RECEIVERS VS. CLEMSON SECONDARY- Without a doubt, Clemson’s secondary is the team’s strength. Robert Carswell continues to be the Tigers’ most valuable player while Alex Ardley has been a blanket at one corner. Dextra Polite, DoMarco Fox, and Charles Hafley have been solid as the Tigers continue to shut down opposing receivers. North Carolina has had problems with the passing game thus far and likely won’t find any answers against Clemson.

Advantage: Clemson

CLEMSON RECEIVERS VS. UNC SECONDARY- The Tarheel secondary is young, with three sophomores and a junior making up the defensive backfield. 6-3 Rod Gardner should have a big game with 5-9 Anthony Anderson and 5-10 Errol Hood at the corners for the Tarheels. If Streeter gets time, Gardner, Wofford, Lawyer and company could put up huge numbers.

Advantage: Clemson

UNC OFFENSIVE LINE VS. CLEMSON DEFENSIVE LINE- The Tarheels boast a line made up of five seniors with an average weight of 300 pounds. None the less, UNC has only managed 3.7 yards per carry on the ground. The Heels’ pass protection has struggled as well as Ronald Curry has been forced to scramble in order to survive. Virginia Tech pushed around the Clemson defensive line with apparent ease last Thursday as Hokie running backs ran free in the Tiger secondary. Damonte McKenzie, where are you?

Advantage: Even

CLEMSON OFFENSIVE LINE VS. NORTH CAROLINA DEFENSIVE LINE- To anyone reading this who isn’t aware of Clemson’s undersized, inexperienced, and ineffective offensive line, we’re glad you could make it out of your cave. The Tigers' front five was mauled by the Hokie defense last Thursday, as Clemson’s pass protection resembled a plywood shed in a hurricane. North Carolina’s front four is young and has yet to have had much of an impact, but that could change against Clemson’s beat up line.

Advantage: North Carolina

LINEBACKERS- Keith Adams looks better every time he steps on the field, but on the whole, Clemson’s linebackers were ineffective against Virginia Tech. The Tigers’ youth was exploited against the Hokies and the unit will have to step up to contain Curry. North Carolina is still attempting to reload from the loss of Ebenezer Ekuban to the NFL and Brandon Spoon to a season ending arm injury.

Advantage: Even

SPECIAL TEAMS- If kicker Tony Lazzara can continue his hot passing (1-1, 1 TD), the Tigers will be in good shape. But if Chris Cambell and Lazarra are forced to actually kick the ball, the Tigers might be in trouble. North Carolina boasts one of the ACC’s best punters in Brian Schmitz while Tiger punter Ryan Romano struggled to break the 30-yard barrier against Virginia Tech. This one isn’t even close.

Advantage: North Carolina

COACHING- While Carl Torbush has had a wealth of talent at North Carolina, the second-year coach hasn’t had much to show for it in the win column. The Tarheels continue to struggle on offense and Torbush’s defenses have been porous. Tommy Bowden helped keep the Tigers close against a superior Virginia Tech team. When he gets the players, Bowden will be tough to beat.

Advantage: Clemson

PREDICTION- On paper, North Carolina is a better team than Clemson. Mack Brown and Carl Torbush have reeled in top-notch recruiting year after year. Unfortunately for North Carolina fans, talent doesn’t win by itself. If the Tiger defense can stop the run, the Tarheels will struggle to move the ball through the air. Clemson’s offensive line is the key to this game. If Brandon Streeter gets protection, the Tiger offense should put up impressive numbers against the overmatched Tarheel secondary. This game has a chance to get ugly.


UNC- 13

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