UNC looking forward to historic game against a "really talented" Clemson team


by - Senior Writer -
UNC's defensive coordinator says he hasn't seen a better quarterback than Trevor Lawrence
UNC's defensive coordinator says he hasn't seen a better quarterback than Trevor Lawrence

Clemson’s trip to Chapel Hill Saturday will make history, marking the first time the reigning national champion has ever visited Kenan Stadium and just the fourth time that North Carolina has ever hosted the AP's top-ranked team.

Clemson (4-0 overall, 2-0 ACC) faces off against the Tar Heels (2-2, 1-0) at 3:30 Saturday in a cross-division contest. Clemson hasn’t played at UNC since 2010, and while Tar Heel head coach Mack Brown understands the opportunity and the challenge ahead, he’s worried more about his own team than the Tigers.

“What I do is I focus more on us," Brown said during his weekly press conference. “To me, if you focus on Clemson and you focus on (Appalachian State) and you focus on Wake (Forest) every week, you're trying to get a chip-on-the-shoulder deal and this is not a chip-on-the-shoulder school.

"We need to be a great program; we don't need to be a chip-on-the-shoulder program. That's hard to sell here. I didn't come here because we haven't ever been any good, this place should be great."

UNC offensive coordinator Phil Longo has said that each his week his offense takes aim at three opposing defenders that he wants to attack either with scheme or personnel, but he’s having a hard time finding three players to attack on the Clemson defense.

"There aren't three guys this week," Longo said. "I mean, they're solid. The corners are really good. The safeties are good. The defensive line is different than the D-line that they had. They had those four freaks last year, but they're extremely well-coached.

"They're physical, they pursue well, they have good lateral movement. They squeeze grass. They're going to give you a little bit and squeeze it because they're so athletic. They can be out of position a little bit and change direction and maybe recover a little better than some other teams. That's the benefit of having 11 good athletes out there."

Defensive coordinator Jay Batemen spent the last five years at Army, and now he’s looking forward to matching wits with Clemson co-offensive coordinators Jeff Scott and Tony Elliott.

"I think they're really talented," Bateman said. "I think they're really well-coached. I was at the Broyles Award last year with Tony and Jeff. I think they're really good football coaches and they've got really talented guys. I think you have to play fundamentally very sound. I think they block you very well, and I think the quarterback (Trevor Lawrence) is, I mean, I haven't seen one better.

"So, I just think you've got to minimize the damage when they get you in a bad play. We talked to our kids about that yesterday. Some teams, when I have a bad call on defense against a certain play, we've got to minimize that. Against them, if you do not minimize it, it's major problems. And I think the teams that have done a good job against them have minimized the damage when they've had a bad (play); a route against a certain coverage or a run against a certain front.

"So, I think that's it. And then I think you've got to do a really, really good job on the edge in coverage, at corner in coverage. They're going to make you play man-to-man. So, we've got to do a really good job when we're playing press man."

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