Tar Heels host Blue Hens in final UNC's nonconference game
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) North Carolina put together a complete game - good offense, solid defense, big plays on special teams - to roll to a lopsided win against a power-conference opponent. The Tar Heels have to prove it was more than a one-time thing.
UNC (2-1) hosts Delaware from the Championship Subdivision on Saturday to close its nonconference schedule with an aim toward carrying momentum into its Atlantic Coast Conference opener the following week. For coach Larry Fedora, it's a chance to see whether his team can build on the 48-14 rout of Illinois last weekend.
''He challenged us that you've got to put that game to bed, it's over - new week, new opponent,'' linebacker Jeff Schoettmer said.
Against Illinois, UNC's offense moved up and down the field, the defense allowed one touchdown while the game was in doubt and the special teams got another long field goal from Nick Weiler to go with two long punt returns from Ryan Switzer.
The last time the Tar Heels were in this position, though, they failed to do follow up. Last year they turned in a strong all-around performance to win at Duke, only to take a huge step back with ugly losses to North Carolina State and Rutgers to close the year. They don't want to do it again with a trip to No. 20 Georgia Tech in next week's ACC opener.
''That's probably the best feeling ever,'' quarterback Marquise Williams said of the complete-game performance against Duke. ''You have no worries. If all three phases are clicking, then you know you're going to win the football game.''
The Blue Hens (1-2) are coming off a loss to Villanova and are looking for their first win against a Bowl Subdivision opponent since beating Navy in 2007 behind current Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco.
''We're so young right now, these kids are just so jacked to go play the game,'' Delaware coach Dave Brock said. ''They're looking forward to it and looking forward to going down there. It's a measuring stick for them.''
Some things to watch in Saturday's Delaware-North Carolina game:
SWITZER'S ROLL: Switzer tied an NCAA single-season record with five punt returns for touchdowns as a freshman in 2013, but had been bottled up ever since. That is until last week, when he had a 71-yard return and then returned to the end zone on a late 85-yard return. Two years ago, the TD returns came in bunches late in the year. Can it happen again?
UNC's RUSHING ATTACK: UNC appears to have sorted out its backfield work after a head-scratching lack of use for top rusher Elijah Hood in the opening loss to South Carolina. Hood ran for 129 yards on 16 carries before getting less work in the Illinois blowout.
INJURED BLUE HENS: Delaware lost last year's leading rusher, Wes Hills, to a broken foot in the opener. In addition, Jalen Randolph ran for 84 yards and a touchdown last week before leaving with his own injury. Now redshirt freshman Thomas Jefferson and sophomore Kareem Williams are listed atop the depth chart at running back.
TEMPO: UNC's high-scoring offense wants to play fast, and that could make it even tougher for Delaware to match up when they're already outmatched physically by a power-conference opponent.
PASS RUSH: While North Carolina's defense has improved under first-year coordinator Gene Chizik, the Tar Heels haven't generated much of a pass rush. They have two sacks in three games. ''It's baby steps,'' Chizik said. ''We're seeing some (improvement), not enough for our liking right now.''
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