Countdown to kickoff: Tar Heel trap? Tigers host UNC in ACC home opener

UNC quarterback Marquise Williams (AP photo).

UNC quarterback Marquise Williams (AP photo).

The countdown is on to Clemson football first in Athens (Georgia) and then back in TigerTown on Sept. 6 (S.C. State).

We’re counting down the Clemson schedule – by strength of schedule – with a quick profile, team I.D. and prediction.

North Carolina returns to TigerTown, where they look to set the trap after the Tigers’ trip to Tallahassee.

Clemson Countdown to Kickoff

12) S.C. State

11) Georgia State

10) Wake Forest

9) N.C. State

8) Syracuse

7) Boston College

6) Georgia Tech

5) Louisville

4) North Carolina Tar Heels

Quick Profile

Plays Clemson: at Memorial Stadium, Sept. 27, time TBA.

2013 Record: 7-6 (4-4 ACC, fifth in the Coastal Division).

UNC coach Larry Fedora (AP photo).

UNC coach Larry Fedora (AP photo).

Coach: Larry Fedora (49-29 career record).

Offense (2013 ranks): Spread (Scoring offense: 43, 32.7 PPG; Yards per play: 48, 5.9; Field position advantage: 30).

Defense (2013 ranks): 4-2-5 (Def. yards per play: 39, 5.3; Scoring defense: 43, 24.5 PPG; 3rd down defense: 67, 39.8%).

Advanced stats: Success Rate – 48 (44.9%); Points per trip inside the 40 – 38 (4.6); Adj. line yards – 52 (103.1); Def. Success Rate – 58 (42.2%); Def. points per trip inside the 40 – 33 (3.9); Def. adj. line yards – 71 (98.1).

Returning starters: Offense – 8; Defense – 7; Kickers – 2;

ACC Unit ranks: Coach – 7; QB - 5; RB – 10; WR - 5; TE - 5; OL - 7; DL - 12; LB - 6; DB - 9; ST - 3.

UNC Identity

1. Fed-Spread year 3 - Much like Chad Morris’ first run, UNC had a top-15 total offense in Larry Fedora’s debut season, but unlike Morris and the Tigers, that success wasn’t sustained in a tumultuous ’13 campaign which saw a senior QB go down to injury (Bryn Renner) and a late-season run (6-1 finish). As a sophomore, quarterback Marquise Williams was efficient in his first major playing time: 1,698 passing yards, 7.8 yards per pass, 15 TDs to 6 INTs and leading UNC in rushing (536 yards/6 TDs). He loses a first-team All-ACC left tackle (James Hurst), but has his selection of skill position weapons to make defenses think.

2. Defense doldrums - In a season officially recognized as 0-5 for UNC (eight vacated wins), the Tar Heels had a top-10 defense in 2009. The next season? Top-30. The next season? Top-50. Then No. 64 last year. Point being, they’ve steadily declined in overall yards, despite top-40 showings in yards per play the last two years. The 4-2-5 scheme is in search of new playmakers on the d-line and secondary, which doesn’t exactly to lend to a big jump in production on this side of the ball.

UNC wide receiver/punt returner Ryan Switzer (AP photo).

UNC wide receiver/punt returner Ryan Switzer (AP photo).

3. Strong in that other phase - UNC has ranked in the top-15 nationally in Phil Steele’s special teams rankings the last two years. They return one of the ACC’s active leaders in yards per punt (Tommy Hibbard, 43), punt return yards (Ryan Switzer, 502) and kick return yards (T.J. Thorpe, 1,348).

Projected Record: 8-4 (5-3 ACC).

(Way too early) North Carolina pick: 41-27 Tigers.

Analysis: North Carolina has the talent to trip Clemson up the week after the Tigers tangle in Tallahassee. The track record says otherwise, on both sides. Since 2011, Clemson is 6-0 the week after a top-25 matchup with a 18-point margin of victory – and should it come to it, they are 6-1 coming off a loss. UNC is 0-4 against ranked opponents under Fedora and 0-for-its-last-8 as a program (the last ranked win came at Florida State in 2010, 37-35). Basically, Clemson takes care of business, while the Tar Heels haven’t proved they can win these type of games yet. UNC finished the 2013 season’s second-half by winning 6-of-7 and they’ll need that kind of momentum to start ACC play 1-0.

Next up: 3) South Carolina Gamecocks – Will the Tigers stop the streak?

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Comments » 11

Xander5000 writes:

There is clearly not much downside 6 out of the first 7 games of this season. There are some tricky spots in that first 7, where anyone can slip up. And ofcourse there are some games in that first 7, that you better strap it on tight and slice a light gash across your chest just to make yourself mad, because you're going to be in a knock-down drag-out fight.
These games..... all these games on this schedule need to be won by Clemson if they expect to continue to strengthen their legacy of constantly being one of the 3 or 4 elites in the nation.

TigerNE writes:

UNC will be a solid team, but I simply cannot understand why some see them as serious contender in the ACC overall. They benefit from a weak Coastal especially if Miami is still "rebuilding". But they still seem a distance from FSU and Clemson in potential. And after a few games it may become clear Louisville will be more potent. On top of that, I see Marquise Williams as a good QB but not deserving of all his hype just yet.

BrandonRink writes:

in response to TigerNE:

UNC will be a solid team, but I simply cannot understand why some see them as serious contender in the ACC overall. They benefit from a weak Coastal especially if Miami is still "rebuilding". But they still seem a distance from FSU and Clemson in potential. And after a few games it may become clear Louisville will be more potent. On top of that, I see Marquise Williams as a good QB but not deserving of all his hype just yet.

Agreed. Basically have UNC ahead of Louisville in the countdown because of the trap game potential and the amount talent of the Heels do have on the roster.

robtthetiger44#293707 writes:

Where did all this talent come from all of a sudden. And as far as a "trap" game, well, that's pure nonsense. If we beat FSU in Tallahassee we will be one of the top 2 or 3 teams in the country and UNC will have no chance at all at beating us provided we don't have 6 turnovers. And if we lose in Tallahassee we will be so mad our frustration will be taken out on them. I look at this game as a no win situation for UNC and not a trap game for us. I guarantee you we won't lay down when we play them because there is no love loss bebween the two schools to start with and this is based on what happened back about '97 or thereabouts when we went up there and the refs fouled our entire team out except for 4 players. I can't remember if that was when Rick Barnes and Dean Smith got into that fight or it may have been another time. Brandon, you may remember that little episode better than I. Comment on it if you do. SC State may be a trap game if we beat Georgia for obvious reasons: We will think we don't need to practice that week to beat them and then they could stick the ball up our you know what's.

FlopEye writes:

in response to Xander5000:

There is clearly not much downside 6 out of the first 7 games of this season. There are some tricky spots in that first 7, where anyone can slip up. And ofcourse there are some games in that first 7, that you better strap it on tight and slice a light gash across your chest just to make yourself mad, because you're going to be in a knock-down drag-out fight.
These games..... all these games on this schedule need to be won by Clemson if they expect to continue to strengthen their legacy of constantly being one of the 3 or 4 elites in the nation.

" their legacy of constantly being one of the
3 or 4 elites in the nation ". Whatcha smoking,
Bro ? You need to get back down to earth.

Xander5000 writes:

What am I smoking? What have you been watching for the past 10 seasons? Clearly you got to admit that recruiting and play from Clemson football has gotten better.
If any team is trying to win championships or become an elite squad year after year then they must win most of if not all their games year after year. If that's not the goals of any team then why even have a team show up on the field? What are your grand solutions to becoming an elite program?

FlopEye writes:

in response to Xander5000:

What am I smoking? What have you been watching for the past 10 seasons? Clearly you got to admit that recruiting and play from Clemson football has gotten better.
If any team is trying to win championships or become an elite squad year after year then they must win most of if not all their games year after year. If that's not the goals of any team then why even have a team show up on the field? What are your grand solutions to becoming an elite program?

My comment was to your assertion that
Clemson has " constantly" been one of the
top 3 or 4 " elite" teams in the country.
I hate to burst your delusional orange
balloon, but facts are facts.
Google NCAA college football all time won-
loss records. Clemson is ranked 28th.
Not in the top 3 or 4, even using your
convoluted math.
I try to be judicious toward Clemson.
My youngest son graduated from Clemson
in 1994, and yet, I am a " Coot" fan.
I also know that the " Coots" are
ranked way below the Tigers in all
time wins and losses, but that cannot
excuse Clemson fans like you that
believe your team is among the "elite".
If 28th is "elite" to you, so be it.
Live in your dream world, void of
reality.

robtthetiger44#293707 writes:

To FlopEye: You being as old as you are should remember quite well the decade of the fifties when we went to 2 Orange Bowls, a Sugar Bowl and the Bluebonnet Bowl. That was back when there weren't but about 7 bowls games played. So yes, Clemson was an elite football school, whereas SC has never been until the last 2 or 3 years and that's about to end when Spurrier leaves and he's on his way out. Always remember this: Clemson has won 2 bowl games less than SC has ever been to...total number of bowl games for SC is 2 more than the total we have won. SC fans don't want to talk about the past and I understand that. 1998 thru 2008 isn't that long ago...very recent past. Clemson won 9 out of 11 games, yet it was so insignificant to us because we always beat y'all nobody remembers that FACT! 9 wins in 11 years dating back to 1998.

FlopEye writes:

in response to robtthetiger44#293707:

To FlopEye: You being as old as you are should remember quite well the decade of the fifties when we went to 2 Orange Bowls, a Sugar Bowl and the Bluebonnet Bowl. That was back when there weren't but about 7 bowls games played. So yes, Clemson was an elite football school, whereas SC has never been until the last 2 or 3 years and that's about to end when Spurrier leaves and he's on his way out. Always remember this: Clemson has won 2 bowl games less than SC has ever been to...total number of bowl games for SC is 2 more than the total we have won. SC fans don't want to talk about the past and I understand that. 1998 thru 2008 isn't that long ago...very recent past. Clemson won 9 out of 11 games, yet it was so insignificant to us because we always beat y'all nobody remembers that FACT! 9 wins in 11 years dating back to 1998.

Go back to remedial reading class.
I KNOW Clemson has won more than USC.
I KNOW their record is much better.
MY point is that, Clemson fans are
constantly bragging about being one
of the TOP teams in the country.
The indisputable fact is as stated
above. YOU ARE 28TH in all time
wins, NOT 3rd or 4th - 28th.
Face reality, face facts and get
a life. A realistic life.
Clemson is good, NOT GREAT.
Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas,
S.Cal ( Dabo's favorite USC),
Michigan Alabama, Georgia,
LSU.. etc. are great teams.
NOT CLEMSON ! And before you
rant, AGAIN, about S. Car.,
I ADMIT WE HAVE ALONG WAY
TO GO TO EVEN CATCH CLEMSON.
My point, for the nth time
is that some of you are not
facing the facts.

BlueRidgeBengal writes:

CLEMSON fans are going to brag on a CLEMSON fan site. It's a fairly simple concept.

Xander5000 writes:

in response to FlopEye:

My comment was to your assertion that
Clemson has " constantly" been one of the
top 3 or 4 " elite" teams in the country.
I hate to burst your delusional orange
balloon, but facts are facts.
Google NCAA college football all time won-
loss records. Clemson is ranked 28th.
Not in the top 3 or 4, even using your
convoluted math.
I try to be judicious toward Clemson.
My youngest son graduated from Clemson
in 1994, and yet, I am a " Coot" fan.
I also know that the " Coots" are
ranked way below the Tigers in all
time wins and losses, but that cannot
excuse Clemson fans like you that
believe your team is among the "elite".
If 28th is "elite" to you, so be it.
Live in your dream world, void of
reality.

I clearly stated that if Clemson wanted to strengthen their legacy that they have to win all their games... or they could win 95% of their games but do it year after year. If Clemson does that continuously, then they will be in the class of that 3 or 4 or 5 or 6 group of elite teams in college football in this era. Where did I say they are elite now? Guess what however, no matter what you or anyone thinks of Clemson....... they are not that far at all from being one of those elites.
You're a Chickenlina fan, that totally explained your outburst. Y'all would have something to loudly to cocka-doodle-doo about.... but its not going to last another 8months. The Grim Reaper is coming for Chickenlina and he is bringing his reality staff with the blade on it with him. Not to mention he will be wearing all the colors of the SEC and Clemson's orange and white as well.

Your son graduated from Clemson.... then he is one smart human being.

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