Photo courtesy of hoosfootball.com
CHAPEL HILL– Saturday is Homecoming. And the Tar Heels will be looking to continue their ACC winning streak in the 118th meeting against the Virginia Cavaliers in the South’s Oldest Rivalry.
The two schools met for the first time way back in 1892. Carolina leads the series 59-54-4 overall.
Head Coach Larry Fedora says he will be looking for senior defensive end Kareem Martin to continue to be a dominating presence at the line of scrimmage on Saturday.
“Earlier in the season, he was the guy on defense; he and Norkeithus Otis were really playing well. And what Kareem has done is week after week he’s just got better. His game has stepped up every single week. He’s done more for this football team. We talk about giving one more inch, finding way, and doing whatever it takes. That’s what Kareem is doing,” Coach Fedora says.
How will the Tar Heel offense react to quarterback Marquise Williams running the show? Coach Fedora says the guys all feel bad for Bryn Renner’s injury, but he’s confident the offense won’t skip a beat.
“The way we roll them in, sometimes, the offensive line doesn’t even know who the quarterback is back there until they hear his voice. I think they all have complete confidence in Marquise. We were fortunate that Marquise has had as many reps as he has,” Coach Fedora says.
On the defensive end, Martin says he believes it has been a good week of practice.
“Practice is going really well. We finished putting the game plan in today. Guys are flying around. Game plan is looking pretty good right now,” Martin says.
Martin credits the improving play of the defense to the opening up of communication lines between the Tar Heels on the field of play.
“Like I say, just communication on the field. I think that’s the biggest thing you can attribute to stopping the big plays that we usually gave up in the past,” Martin says.
Defensive coordinator Vic Koenning decided to simplify the playbook a few weeks back, and Martin says it’s definitely helped some of his teammates avoid the dreaded “paralysis by analysis.”
“Guys don’t have to think as much. You’re able to react. Especially on defense, when you’re thinking, you’re moving two or three steps slower. I think he [Koenning] realized that. When he did that, I think we were moving a lot faster,” Martin says.
We will see if that feverish pace continues for Martin and the defense on Saturday.