UNC Football vs. Miami

The 8-1 UNC football team will take on Miami in an ACC battle on Saturday, November 14th.  The game kicks off at 3:30 in Kenan Stadium.

You can listen to UNC Football vs. Miami on 97.9 FM and 1360 AM WCHL.

WCHL will broadcast Countdown to Kickoff with Ron Stutts from 12:30 until 2:30 from Hickory Tavern.  The UNC pregame show starts at 2:30 from Kenan Stadium.

The Tar Heels are sitting atop the ACC Coastal division after defeating the Duke Blue Devils 66-31 last Saturday.  Senior quarterback Marquise Williams completed 23-of-35 passes for 494 yards–a new school record–and accounted for five touchdowns in all. He also rushed for 30 yards, to finish with 524 total yards by himself–the first Tar Heel to ever break the 500 yard mark–in what was arguably the best performance ever by a UNC football player.

The performance launched the UNC football team from Number 21 to Number 17 in the AP Poll.  After being unlisted in the College Football Playoff rankings, Carolina is now Number 23.

The Miami Hurricanes will come into Chapel Hill with a 6-3 record.  The team is 2-0 since the firing of head coach Al Golden.  In the ACC Coastal division, Miami is tied for third place with Pittsburgh.

http://chapelboro.com/calendars/unc-football-vs-miami

UNC-Duke Football Pregame at Hickory Tavern

UNC-Duke football.  Tobacco Road football that matters in November.

Join WCHL at Hickory Tavern in Carrboro for your Tar Heel Football pregame festivities.

WCHL will be broadcasting “Countdown to Kickoff with Ron Stutts” from 9:00 until 11:00 AM on Saturday, November 7 on 97.9 FM, 1360 AM and online at Chapelboro.com.

The Tar Heels take on the Duke Blue Devils in Kenan Stadium at noon.  Carolina is 7-1 on the season and is looking to go 5-0 in the ACC after last week’s win over Pitt.  Despite Duke’s last-second loss against Miami, this game decides who will be in the driver’s seat in the ACC Coastal Division.

Hickory Tavern is located on 310-110 East Main Street in Carrboro.

While you are visiting Hickory Tavern, be sure to sign up for our Carolina Basketball Holiday Hoops in Brooklyn Giveaway.

 

 

http://chapelboro.com/calendars/unc-duke-football-pregame-at-hickory-tavern

Marquise Williams Signs With Green Bay Packers

The most prolific quarterback in UNC football history is now a Cheesehead.

It was announced late Thursday afternoon that Marquise Williams, who went undrafted in April’s NFL Draft, was signed to a rookie contract by the Green Bay Packers.

The Charlotte native also had a tryout with the Packers’ division rival–the Minnesota Vikings–earlier this month before eventually ending up in Wisconsin.

Now the fourth quarterback on Green Bay’s roster, Williams will compete with former UCLA star Brett Hundley and fellow rookie Joe Callahan–last season’s Division III Player of the Year at Wesley College.

Each man will battle during training camp to be the backup to Aaron Rodgers, with at least one of them likely to be cut during the preseason.

Tar Heels vs Cavaliers

Marquise Williams added an extra dimension to the UNC offense with his superb rushing skills. (Photo via Smith Cameron Photography)

Williams also leaves behind a legacy that still may loom over Kenan Stadium in the fall.

Junior Mitch Trubisky will take control of the Tar Heel offense after two years studying under Williams–and at times taking over for him whenever he was struggling, or if his helmet was knocked off by a defender.

A highly talented player in his own right, Trubisky will still have some large shoes to fill.

Over the course of his career in Chapel Hill, Williams played in 48 games–starting in 33 of them. He also set or tied more than 20 school records at the helm of head coach Larry Fedora’s spread offense.

No Tar Heel signal caller has ever run for as many yards (2,458) or touchdowns (35) as the 23-year-old Williams.

Clemson’s Tajh Boyd (2010-2013) and NC State’s Philip Rivers (2000-2003) are the only ACC quarterbacks to have tallied more than Williams’ 99 career touchdowns–when factoring in passing, rushing and receiving scores.

That versatility helped the Tar Heels become one of the nation’s premier offensive forces over the past couple seasons, as he capped his career in 2015 by leading UNC to its first ACC Coastal Division Championship en route to a school-record 11 wins.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/marquise-williams-signs-with-green-bay-packers

Speculation Surrounds Fedora Following Briles’ Firing at Baylor

Engulfed in a crippling scandal that saw the school and its football coaches routinely fail to investigate sexual assault allegations against its players–Baylor University suspended head coach Art Briles on Thursday with intention to terminate him.

As a result, the internet–as it tends to do–immediately began speculation about who would replace Briles, naming UNC head coach Larry Fedora as the school’s likely first target.

Fedora and Briles each came up through the coaching ranks in Texas, crossing paths a number of times when Fedora was an assistant at Baylor recruiting some of Briles’ players at Stephenville High School.

In eight seasons under Briles, Baylor rose to national prominence using a high-tempo offense similar to the one used by Fedora at UNC.

The Bears also defeated Fedora’s Tar Heels 49-38 in last season’s Russell Athletic Bowl, running for 645 yards with their top three quarterbacks each sidelined–showing they still have the talent to compete on the national level the next couple years with or without Briles at the helm.

However, there has been no indication so far that Fedora would be interested in taking the job, despite the numerous connections.

For one, the 53-year-old just signed a new contract extension at UNC in December which adds four years to his current seven-year deal–meaning it won’t expire until after the 2022 season.

His original contract signed in 2011 was worth upwards of $2 million per year, making him the highest paid football coach in the school’s history.

Upon his arrival in Chapel Hill, Fedora also entered into the beginning of the NCAA academic scandal that still has yet to reach a resolution.

It’s unlikely that he would want to jump from the ending of one long-running scandal into the beginning of another.

And let’s not forget, the Tar Heels are coming off a 2015 season where they tallied a school-record 11 wins and won the ACC Coastal Division Title.

He wouldn’t exactly have to leave North Carolina to chase more wins in the future, either, given the amount of talent UNC returns next season.

Fedora was unavailable for comment on the issue, as it is the longstanding policy of both he and UNC Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham to not comment on any type of coaching speculation.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/speculation-surrounds-fedora-following-briles-firing-at-baylor

Undrafted UNC RB Romar Morris Signs With NY Jets

Invited to tryout at the team’s rookie mini-camp following April’s NFL Draft, former UNC running back Romar Morris was officially signed to the New York Jets’ 90-man roster Tuesday morning.

Originally a three-star recruit out of Salisbury High School (NC) in the Tar Heels’ 2011 class, according to Scout.com, Morris saw his collegiate production peak in 2012–his redshirt freshman season.

However, a standout performance at UNC’s pro day this past spring–where he ran the 40-yard dash in an incredible 4.3 seconds–put him back on the radar of many NFL scouts.

With the added importance of speed in the NFL, a league comprised of the nation’s best athletes, the Jets may be hoping to find the next “Fast” Willie Parker.

Morris, a 5-foot-9-inch speedster, carried the ball 69 times for 386 yards and two touchdowns in 2012, while also helping as a receiver out of the backfield–adding 12 receptions for 204 yards and a pair of scores.

Never again during his time in Chapel Hill, though, would Morris account for that much yardage, as head coach Larry Fedora continued to rotate a plethora of other talented running backs–such as AJ Blue, TJ Logan and Elijah Hood–into his fast-paced offensive system.

RB Romar Morris celebrates with OT John Ferranto

Morris (21) celebrates against Illinois after scoring his only touchdown of 2015. (Photo via Smith Cameron Photography.)

This past season, Morris was given just 19 touches–10 carries and nine receptions. He also found the endzone just once in his senior campaign, accounting for only 64 rushing yards and 54 receiving yards as the team’s fourth option at his position.

For his career at UNC, Morris earned 13 starts in 50 games. He had 213 carries for 1,024 yards and 12 touchdowns, with 54 receptions for 499 yards and two TDs.

Parker, who displayed similar top-notch speed–played for UNC from 2000-2003 under John Bunting, and like Morris, saw his production drop off throughout his college career.

The Pittsburgh Steelers liked what they saw from Parker in terms of his athleticism, though, and decided to sign him to an undrafted rookie contract anyway.

He then made the team and ended up playing six seasons in the Steel City, rushing for over 1,000 yards in three consecutive seasons from 2005-2007.

In 2005, Parker also helped quarterback Ben Roethlisberger defeat the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XL–a game where he ripped off a 75-yard touchdown run, still the longest run in the game’s prestigious history.

For Morris to even have a shot to reach the same lofty heights as Parker, however, he’ll need to first make the Jets’ 53-man regular season roster.

That process will begin during NFL Training Camps later this summer, where rosters are whittled down each week throughout the preseason.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/undrafted-unc-rb-romar-morris-signs-with-ny-jets

Start Time Announced for UNC-Georgia College Football Kickoff Game

Sure, there may be 109 days before college football season begins–but it’s never too early to get excited about it.

It was announced Tuesday morning that the Tar Heels’ battle with Georgia in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game on Sept. 3rd is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m.

So go ahead, start making tailgate plans. Plenty of storylines will be present in the Georgia Dome that night.

Junior Mitch Trubisky will make his debut as UNC’s starting quarterback while trying to pick up a signature victory for head coach Larry Fedora.

UNC and Georgia have met on 30 previous occasions--with the Bulldogs holding a 16-12-2 advantage. The 2016 meeting will be the first between the teams in 44 years. (UNC Athletics)

UNC and Georgia have met on 30 previous occasions–with the Bulldogs holding a 16-12-2 advantage. The 2016 meeting will be the first between the teams in 44 years. (UNC Athletics)

Defensively, the Tar Heels had the most improved defense in the nation under first-year coordinator Gene Chizik–but struggled to contain the running game as the season came to a close.

After losing a number of key leaders on defense, it’ll be interesting to see how Chizik chooses to try and stop Georgia’s star tailback, Nick Chubb.

Chubb will likely be making his return from a severe knee injury that ended his season in 2015.

Off the field, former Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart will be getting his first shot as Georgia’s head coach.

And last, but not least, the Tar Heels will also be looking to build up quality wins in the non-conference portion of its schedule.

Last season, UNC lost its opener to South Carolina–one of Georgia’s SEC rivals–while also playing North Carolina A&T and Delaware, two Football Championship Subdivision schools.

Despite winning 11 games in a row on the way to the ACC Coastal Division championship, many national analysts felt that the Tar Heels’ poor strength of schedule kept them out of consideration for the four-team college football playoff.

UNC will again play two FCS opponents–James Madison and The Citadel–in 2016, which makes defeating Georgia in the opener that much more important if the Tar Heels want to improve upon last season’s successes.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/start-time-announced-for-unc-georgia-college-football-kickoff-game

Trubisky Officially Named Starting QB…Finally

Mitch Trubisky has officially been named the starting quarterback for the UNC football opener against Georgia in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game on September 3.

UNC head coach Larry Fedora announced the move through a release from the university on Friday.

“I thought Mitch did a good job this spring and didn’t just assume he was going to be the starter. He worked extremely hard and earned it. We always want to have competition at every position. Mitch is the QB with the most experience returning, but he worked hard this spring, competed every day and deserves to be the starter.”

Trubisky is a junior from Mentor, Ohio, who has played sparingly but in some big moments for UNC over the last two years backing up Marquise Williams.

Trubisky completed 40 of 47 pass attempts as a sophomore for 555 yards and six touchdowns, while carrying the ball 16 times for just over 100 yards and three touchdowns.

Trubisky’s biggest performance last season came in relief of a struggling Williams in the matchup against Delaware. Trubisky entered the game and led UNC to a 41-14 victory.

Fedora stuck with Williams as the starting quarterback, despite calls from some to give the reins to the sophomore. Williams went on to have one of the most prolific seasons in UNC history while the Tar Heels won the Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division Championship.

Trubisky will lead a high-powered UNC offense with the return of running backs Elijah Hood and TJ Logan and one of the best groups of wide receivers in the nation led by Mack Hollins, Bug Howard and Ryan Switzer.

http://chapelboro.com/featured/trubisky-officially-named-starting-qb-finally

UNC Football Preparing For Tough Season

When it comes to repeating as Coastal Division champions this season, Larry Fedora and the UNC football team will have their work cut out for them.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt about,” Fedora said. “The Coastal Division just got a lot stronger, just by the coaches that were hired and the pedigrees they have behind them.”

On top of facing perennial ACC powerhouse Florida State at Tallahassee and traveling to Atlanta to take on Georgia, the Tar Heels will also have to deal with the rejuvenated Miami and Virginia Tech programs.

Miami hired Mark Richt, who led Georgia to two SEC titles and a 145-51 record in 15 seasons.

Virginia Tech brought in Justin Fuente, who turned Memphis from a 4-8 team to a 10-3 team in just three seasons.

“It’s pretty amazing the strength of this league as you look at the coaching staffs,” Fedora said. “That makes not only the Coastal Division stronger but the ACC stronger.”

But Fedora said he thinks his guys are up to the challenge.

They locked up the Coastal Division last year before falling to then-undefeated Clemson in the ACC Championship game.

Fedora said that experience is helping his team get ready for the first kickoff in September.

“You can see in all of their eyes that they’ve tasted it,” he said. “They just got a little taste of what it’s like and so they know what it’s going to take to get there.”

Right now the Tar Heels are working to incorporate expected starter Mitch Trubisky into an offense that returns star running back Elijah Hood and deep threat Mack Hollins.

“They’re aware of that,” Fedora said. “They’re excited about it. They’ve got a pretty good blueprint of what they need to do. Time will tell.”

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/unc-football-preparing-for-tough-season

Chansky’s Notebook: No. 10’s No. 1!

C’mon, Coach, we know No. 10 is your starting quarterback.

Dear Larry Fedora, I know all coaches like to keep the competition for positions open, but Mitch Trubisky is your starter at quarterback by a half mile. Heck, half the fans wanted him to start, or at least play more, last season. Marquise was great, but he had his moments when he needed to be on the sideline standing next to you.

Mitch Trubisky

Mitch Trubisky (Photo by Smith Cameron Photography)

Hasn’t Trubisky completed something like 80 percent of his passes when you have let him play, particularly when he’s gone in on the fly when Marquise lost his helmet or was shaken up? Didn’t he throw a touchdown pass at Virginia, cold off the bench, on third down, and he’s done some other pretty amazing things in cameo roles? And he’s got the receivers, his roomie Switz & the Hollins buster.

So, let’s talk him up and give Kevin Best a chance to promote who could be the best pro prospect we’ve had at the position. The kid stands tall and throws darts. Reports have been coming out of camp for the last three years that he shreds the defense, and if the Tar Heels are going to match, or better, their 11 wins from last season, you have GOT to turn this kid loose.

We know you will, so why are you saying it’s still a dog fight between Trubisky, and Who’s He Henderson and Elliott, and probably Chaz when he shows up this summer. Mitch is the man, and we know it. C’mon, coach, you know it, too. We’re lucky the kid has been such a good sport about not playing the last two years, when others with a bigger ego might have sulked or, worse, packed up.

The Tar Heels have a quarterback that will rule the Coastal and get a chance to show the Atlantic what he can do when you go to Tallahassee early in the season. He’s made for the Fed Spread and even runs it better than everyone thinks.

No. 10 is No. 1 and you know it. He’s the kind of quarterback that people will pay to see, no matter who the early season competition is. We do want to fill Kenan Stadium, right? So let your new rifleman sell some tickets. C’mon, coach!

http://chapelboro.com/columns/sports-notebook/chanskys-notebook-no-10s-no-1

Offense Wins, Defense Impresses in UNC Football Spring Game

Although the offense won the UNC football spring game 74-70 under an odd scoring system, it was the team’s defense that made the biggest impression at Kenan Stadium on Saturday.

With everyone in the stadium focusing on the quarterback position–and how junior Mitch Trubisky would look in his first appearance since the graduation of former starter Marquise Williams—the defense stole the show with four interceptions.

Three of the picks came against backup Caleb Henderson, but senior cornerback Des Lawrence was able to make an impressive play against Trubisky to get one against the starter.

That earned three points for the defense in a confusing scoring system head coach Larry Fedora said was adopted from the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks.

Quarterback Mitch Trubisky threw for 148 yards with one touchdown and one interception in the spring game. (Jeffrey A. Camarati)

Quarterback Mitch Trubisky threw for 148 yards with one touchdown and one interception in the spring game. (Jeffrey A. Camarati)

“I don’t wanna sit here and say one side was better than the other,” Fedora said after the game. “I think that both sides benefited from what we did today.

“That’s the tough thing about a spring game,” he continued. “I thought there were good things in some situations, and I thought there were bad things on both sides of the ball. So we know as a team we’ve got a lot to work on.”

In all, Trubisky completed 13 of his 22 passes for 148 yards, with 111 of those yard–and an 18-yard touchdown pass–going to big-play receiver Mack Hollins.

Playing without starting receiver Bug Howard and starting running back Elijah Hood, the offense was only able to score three touchdowns and two field goals in a game made up of two 45-minute halves and a running clock.

While not impressed with the overall effort offensively, Fedora did like what he saw from Trubisky.

“I thought he had a pretty good command of the offense,” the coach said. “We had one pick on the sideline, Des [Lawrence] made a great play on that ball, but it was a well-thrown ball.

“He didn’t miss many throws,” Fedora added. “I thought he did a good job.”

One interesting development came when the clock ran out at the end of each half. The offense was left out there with no time on the clock to run 11 untimed plays in the first half, and another three untimed plays following the second half.

Since the team uses the same scoring system in practices, whichever side loses typically carries the other’s pads back to the locker room.

That wasn’t the case on Saturday, but Lawrence still had some fun with it—saying it was a conspiracy by the coaching staff.

An outline of how the scoring was counted during the spring game. Touchdowns and field goals did not count for points. (UNC Athletics)

An outline of how the scoring was counted during the spring game. Touchdowns and field goals did not count for points. (UNC Athletics)

“They were lucky,” Lawrence said with a smile about his teammates on offense. “I think they wanted the offense to score one more time so they wouldn’t have to carry our pads, but we’ll let them have their fun today.”

The defense actually held a slim lead in the score until a make-shift offense led by reserve quarterback Manny Miles—the fifth man to take snaps for the Tar Heels—pulled ahead on the final drive.

Despite that, junior defensive tackle Naz Jones felt good about the way his unit performed, saying the score was meant more for the fans.

“I think they wanted to get more big plays so the crowd could enjoy it and get more into it” Jones said. “Because they don’t really get up for big defensive stops or anything besides an interception.”

The crowd was lucky enough to be treated to four of those, as the defense did its best to provide some entertainment in a game that otherwise resembled an unorganized scrimmage.

Whether it means anything long-term is unclear given the amount of injuries on the roster, but for one day at least defense was king for the normally high-powered Tar Heels.

Game Notes:

  • Sophomore safety Cameron Albright led the defense with two interceptions.
  • Star wideout Ryan Switzer–a rising senior–was held to just two catches and 10 yards while being matched up with cornerback MJ Stewart.
  • Freshman Jordon Brown–a running back who enrolled in January–had 11 carries for 85 yards.
  • Linebacker Cole Holcomb had 10 tackles, which narrowly edged out Lawrence’s nine for the team lead.
http://chapelboro.com/featured/offense-wins-defense-impresses-in-unc-football-spring-game