No. 2 Notre Dame travels to Kenan Stadium on Friday for the Tar Heels’ second game against a top two team in the last two seasons.
Linebacker Jeremiah Gemmel thinks UNC’s close loss to top-ranked Clemson last year will help the Tar Heels against the Irish.
“You have two of the top teams in the country coming in,” he said. “Obviously, this one has a little bit more juice in it, since we’re playing at 3:30 on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, with everybody watching. We do look at it as the same thing as last year.”
Last year, UNC went for a game-winning two-point conversion at the end of the Clemson game, instead of a PAT kick that would have sent it to overtime and ended up losing by a point.
“There are no moral victories,” Gemmel said. “But looking back and looking on film, we went toe-to-toe with the no. 1 team in the country. I feel like that spread throughout the locker room and everybody got a lot more confidence.”
With the team almost done with final exams, it gives the Tar Heels more time to prepare for the Irish.
“Just getting in the film room, getting all the guys together, whether the D-line, front seven or back end with the defensive backs, getting in the meeting room with them,” he said. “With the extra days off, we’ll have extra time to study, make sure we’re on top of everything with communication, because we have a lot of checks this week.”
While the game comes near the end of the season, have an open date last week will help keep the Tar Heels fresh. So will Notre Dame’s pace of play.
“Facing Notre Dame, I think they don’t really run the tempo as much as most other teams we see in the ACC,” Gemmel said. “They usually take their time coming up to line. So I don’t think being this tired would be a factor. We’ll have time in between snaps—20 to 30 seconds to look at the scheme and formation. Most of the time we only get five or six seconds to look at formation, then the ball is snapped. Getting fresh legs for the D-line, secondary and linebackers will be a key thing for us this week, and it’lll be easier to do because they don’t tempo as much.”