North Carolina Preview: If This Is It

November 21, 2009 - 5:48 am
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"If this is it, please let me know. If this ain't love you'd better let me know. . ." There are not many players on the young BC squad who are old enough to remember Huey Lewis and The News (except for maybe the 25-year old David Shinskie) but this may be it for the Eagles. The "it" in this case would be Eagles chase for a third consecutive ACC Championship game, something the seniors on this team have stated as their only goal since the beginning of August. The thing is, they won't know. It all hinges on the University of Virginia Cavaliers traveling to Death Valley and stunning the Clemson Tigers (7-3, 5-2), the team BC is chasing in the ACC Atlantic division race. Clemson, by virtue of its Week 3 win over BC, holds the tie-breaker in the matchup which means that it would have to lose its final ACC game this weekend and the Eagles would have to hold off North Carolina tomorrow at Alumni Stadium and get the job done against Maryland next Saturday. BC will not know if its dreams have gone three-yards-and-a-cloud of C.J. Spiller's dust during its game because the Tigers do not start until 3:30 p.m. while kickoff on The Heights comes shortly after 12:00 p.m. tomorrow. Perhaps scoreboard watching tomorrow evening is putting the cart before the horse. There is the little matter of Tar Heels. Outside of Clemson and Virginia Tech, North Carolina is the best team the Eagles will face this year (with respect to Notre Dame). The difference between those first two games is that BC gets the Tar Heels at home where it is 6-0 and has made all the plays and performed astronomically better than it has on the road. Though, just as it seemed that the Eagles were lined up well last week for their first road win at Virginia, it could be the opposite this week. The Tar Heels bring one of the top defenses in the nation to Chestnut Hill with NFL prospects dotting every squad of the unit. They are big, they are fast and they are physical. "Besides being fast, they are big. Besides being fast and big, they are tough," coach Frank Spaziani said "They're good. They are a real good defense and we are going to have our hands full." Shinskie and company, say hello to Robert Quinn, Quan Sturdivant and Kendric Burney. North Carolina has the No. 8 ranked defense in the country. It is in the top 15 in the nation in all the major defensive categories:  eighth in total defense, ninth rushing defense, 11th in pass efficiency, 13th in scoring defense and 15th in passing defense. "Raw talent. At every level of their defense they have NFL players from the d-line, linebackers, secondary," junior free safety Wes Davis said. "All of them are big, fast strong. It seems like they play pretty disciplined football. Probably the best defense in the ACC right now from watching them play. It will be a challenge for our offense. They will hold their own and puts some points on the board. I think it will be a fun game to watch." A lot of attention will be paid to current National Defensive Player of the Week Burney. The Tar Heel cornerback laid it down against Miami last weekend to the tune of three interceptions totaling 170 yards of return including a touchdown. The obvious matchup for Burney will be against senior co-captain Rich Gunell but it is not outside the realm of possibility to see him on sophomore Colin Larmond, Jr., the resident deep threat for the Eagles offense. Last week Shinskie had trouble with talented Virginia corners Ras-I Dowling and Chris Cook (both had an interception and Cook returned one for a touchdown) but Burney represents and upgrade over both of them. "He'€™s a great corner, one of the better corners in the league. It is going to be a great challenge for us. It is going to be really hard trying to find a weakness in that defense," Gunnell said. The name of the game for the Eagles offense is precision, a word that was thrown around by a couple different players this week. Play tight, play smart. Run good routes and have the offensive line hit its keys. "They have what I think are some of the most complete athletes in the ACC next to Virginia Tech. We have to really be precise and play as hard as we can to beat them," strong safety Marcellus Bowman said. "Just being precise, just executing our plays. Be precise, pay attention to detail, don'€™t make any mental mistakes," Gunnell said. The stalwart of the defensive line is Quinn. The sophomore (who has an amazing story after coming back from emergency brain surgery for a tumor in his senior year of high school) has 16.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks on the season. He is tall and fast at 6'5" 270 pounds and as dangerous a pass rusher as there is in the nation. Behind him is Will linebacker Sturdivant, a Butkus Award semifinalist for the best linebacker in the nation who leads the team with 64 tackles including 11.5 for loss. As good as the Tar Heel defense is, the offense is on the flip side of the spectrum. It is 11th in the conference in total offense, scoring offense and pass offense and a little bit better in rush offense at eighth. The BC defense does give up yard with its soft style scheme (eighth in the conference) but it has been efficient in keeping teams out of the end zone, ranking first in the conference in red zone defense. "It is a huge challenge this week. We have to go out there and execute on all cylinders and really play a complete game on offense I think it if we are going to be successful," Tennant said. The dichotomy creates an interesting match. If this is it for BC, we'll let you know with complete coverage at The BC Blog all day.

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