Picture Courtesy Go Heels
CHAPEL HILL – The anticipation is building as UNC football’s season opener against South Carolina on Thursday, August 29, draws closer. It’s the opening act for the college football season, kicking off at 6:00 p.m. on ESPN.
The contest, happening in Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, SC, will mark the 56th meeting on the gridiron between the two schools and the first since 2007.
UNC Head coach Larry Fedora joined South Carolina’s Sports Talk Radio Show for a friendly chat about facing the Gamecocks and how he feels his Heels will stack-up.
“We understand that it will be a hostile environment down there in Columbia. The Gamecocks fans will be ready. We understand the task at hand,” Fedora said.
In Fedora’s first year with Carolina (8-4, 5-3 in the ACC) last season, his team set school records in scoring and total offense, won eight games, and could have claimed a division title if it weren’t for lingering NCAA sanctions.
Fedora also ushered in a new era of no-huddle spread offense for the Tar Heels and shattered previous school records with 487 points scored and 40.6 points averaged per game. At the helm was quarterback Bryn Renner, now a senior, back to lead the high-scoring offensive attack.
“He just got better as the year went on so I’d say that last five games, he did a great job for us. Then he picked up this spring right where he left off. We expect big things out of him this season,” Fedora said.
The question of who will fill Giovanni Bernard’s big shoes remains. The No. 37 NFL Draft pick averaged 6.7 yards per carry on his way to 1,228 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground for the Tar Heels in 2012.
Fedora says he feels confident about the options he has. Senior AJ Blue and Sophomore Romar Morris have the experience. True freshman Khris Francis was one of the biggest surprises of UNC’S Spring Game. The early enrollee from Hillside High School in Durham topped both Blue and Morris in the game with 101 yards on 20 carries. Fellow freshman TJ Logan might make things even more interesting. Logan scored eight touchdowns and rushed for more than 500 hundred yards for Northern Guilford High School’s victory in the 3-A state championship game this past season.
“We’re excited about what he brings to the table. I really feel pretty good about all four of those guys. It’s going to be interesting to see who decides they want to be the man,” Fedora said.
South Carolina finished the 2012 season with an 11-2 record, a victory in the Outback Bowl, and a No. 8 national ranking. The Gamecocks also have Jadeveon Clowney, the SEC Defensive Player of the Year. That’s one of the reasons Fedora is not taking anything for granted.
“We’re scared to death of them. You got that defensive end that’s All-World and is a great player. We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Fedora said.
The two programs, which used to play regularly, have not met since 2007 when South Carolina won in Chapel Hill by a 21-15 count. The Gamecocks have won four of the last five contests since1988.
UNC holds a 14-9-1 advantage in games played in Columbia, and also holds a 34-18-4 advantage in the all-time series.