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Third Time the Charm for UNC?

Sharon Thorsland
September 15, 2017 - 7:17 am

Well, things aren't exactly off to a good start for North Carolina.  My Tar Heels are 0-2 on the season after putting up little to no defense in losses to Cal and Louisville.  They're allowing a whopping 587 yards per game, that's dead last among Power 5 conferences. Ouch. So, what better way to bounce back than a game against a non-Power 5 opponent?  Better yet, how about one that just started playing football in 2009?  Old Dominion fits that bill, and that's who the Heels face on Saturday.  Kick-off is set for 3:30 in Norfolk, VA, and of course you can hear the game on WBT.

 

The Monarchs might have been playing football for less than a decade, but they're actually pretty good.  They're 2-0 this season, and last year, their third in Conference USA, they went 10-3 and played in and won their first ever bowl game.  Most of their starters from that team remain, with the biggest loss being quarterback David Washington.  The Monarchs have replaced him with tandem of Blake Larussa and JUCO transfer Jordan Hoy, who threw for 37 touchdowns and just six interceptions at Fullerton College last year.  Larussa is more of a traditional quarterback, he's thrown for 290 yards this season, while Hoy is a dual threat who can extend plays with his feet.

 

The Monarchs' top receiver is senior Jonathan Duhart, he's got 121 yards and two touchdowns.  He teams with Travis Fulgham, who's a deep threat averaging over 20 yards a catch.  And Jeremy Cox is a pass-catching running back, he's got nine grabs to go with his 119 rushing yards this season.  Fellow back Ray Lawry has picked up more than 1000 yards the past two seasons, but he's been battling a hamstring injury this season.  The pair will pose a problem for UNC, who hasn't been able to stop the run for years now. 

 

The Monarchs have a pretty good defense and a very impressive pass rush - they rank 40th in total defense and lead the nation with 15 sacks through two games.  That's better than Clemson, who has 11 sacks on the season! Defensive ends Bunmi Rotimi and Oshane Ximines combined for 14.5 sacks last season, Daniel Appouh and Tim Ward rotate in.  Defensive tackle Miles Fox has 3.5 sacks, he teams with 337-pound Brandon Tyson.  Marvin Branch anchors the linebackers and has an interception, and the secondary has plenty of talent and experience.  They'll provide a serious challenge for the Tar Heels, who have been inconsistent offensively and have been hit hard by injuries on the offensive line.

 

These teams have only met one time before, back in 2013, and it's a game ODU would like to forget – the Heels won it 80-20!  I somehow don't see that happening again.  This Monarchs team is not one to be taken lightly.  But UNC has more talented players and should be able to pull this one out for their first win of the season.  I know they can do it – go Tar Heels!

 

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