The game is known as the Battle of Carolinas and has built quite the hype, with College GameDay choosing to cover this game for week one. The pressure is on for UNC this year with all the talent on the roster, a loaded running back committee, and arguably the best quarterback in College Football with Drake Maye at the helm.
Undoubtedly, UNC enters this meeting with big question marks, one being the status of transfer wide receiver Tez Walker, as his eligibility is still in question by the NCAA. The other is UNC’s defense and if they can fix the glaring issues that have hindered them the last few seasons.
North Carolina will need to do a few things this game to come out victorious, but here are the three key things on the defensive end required to have that outcome.
Get Spencer Rattled
The first key is making South Carolina quarterback Spencer Rattler uncomfortable in the pocket. UNC has to get to the quarterback, something they have struggled with, finishing last a season ago in the ACC for sacks(17).
UNC should rush the quarterback as much as possible, keeping players like Cedric Gray in coverage, who has great hands and sure tackling at the linebacker position.
Get Travis Shaw going
The second key for the defense is getting five-star sophomore Travis Shaw to win in the trenches on the defensive line. Shaw returned this off-season in great shape, slimming down to get quicker while maintaining the explosiveness that earned him his five-star status.
An excellent first outing for Shaw could fuel a great season for the defensive lineman, turning him into a household name.
Play it smart
The last key for UNC’s defense to be successful is playing smart and completing the play. Last season, what tore fans’ hair out was the missed and broken tackles that resulted in the opposition scoring points.
The other big issue was the lack of discipline regarding penalties. UNC gave many teams new life last season thanks to pass interference calls and broken coverage. The secondary will be tested early and often in Saturday’s game, so expect much communication on the field.