Week 3: North Carolina Tar Heels

QB Matt Baker

North Carolina (0-2) returned 16 starters from last year's squad, but the Tar Heels have struggled early in the 2005 season.

BACKGROUND
Location:
Chapel Hill, N.C.
Enrollment: 26,800
Nickname: Tar Heels
School Colors: Blue & White
Stadium: Kenan (60,000)
Conference: ACC

TEAM
Head Coach:
John Bunting
Record at UNC: 19-30 (4 years)
2004 Record: 6-6 (5-3)
2004 Bowl: Tire vs. Boston College (L, 37-24)
Starters Returning: 16 (7 offense, 9 defense)
2005 Preseason Ranking: No. 54
2005 Current Record: 0-2

North Carolina Scouting Report

Offensively, the Tar Heels are led by redshirt senior quarterback Matt Baker. Baker is averaging 286.0 total yards per game, 21 yards more than NC State QB Jay Davis, who is second with 265.0 yards per game. He leads the league with 280.5 yards passing per game. Baker threw for 280 yards against Georgia Tech and 281 yards against Wisconsin. In two games, Baker has nearly thrown as many passes (76) as he did in the previous three seasons at Carolina (80), not a good sign for an offense that really wants to establish a running game to set up the pass.

Despite the prolific yardage numbers, Baker has lacked the accuracy in the passing game to sustain drives. He is completing just 44.7% of his passes, the lowest percentage in the ACC, and his four interceptions are second-worst in the conference, only behind UVA's Marques Hagans. The Heels will need an accurate and dangerous Baker to upset NC State in Raleigh.

Derrele Mitchell

The senior quarterback has plenty of talent around him, and it all starts with one of the strongest group of wide receivers in the ACC. Led by senior Derrelle Mitchell and junior Jesse Holley, the Heels have the top-ranked passing attack in the conference. Mitchell leads the Heels with 152 receiving yards and Holley's nine receptions are a team-high after two games. The darkhorse wideout maybe Wallace Wright. A former walk-on, Wright had a career-high 91 yards receiving against Wisconsin. Senior Jawarski Pollack and junior Mike Mason are also notable players for North Carolina at wide receiver.

The achilles heel for North Carolina has been the offensive line, a unit that Bunting felt during the preseason was possibly his team's strength. North Carolina has already had an injury on the offensive front, as Ben Lemming missed time during the first two games which forced senior Steven Bell to start at center, but Lemming is also inexperienced as he entered the season with zero career starts. Charleston Gray and Kyle Ralph were suppose to be the strengths of the line at guard, but both have struggled at times, particularly Gray who was flagged three times on one possession against the Badgers. Right tackle Skip Seagraves has battled a lingering shoulder injury and true freshman Garrett Reynolds is his backup. This unit has to rebound from an awful performance against Wisconsin, a team that is not in the same league athletically as NC State's vaunted defensive line.

RB Barrington Edwards
Because of the offensive line struggles, and also due to inexeperience at the position, North Carolina's rushing attack has struggled as well. Sophomore Barrington Edwards, a transfer from LSU, hasn't lived up to expectations, as he's averaging just 29.5 yards per game. True freshman James 'Cooter' Arnold, a player most felt would redshirt this season, was a surprise in fall practice and started the opener against Georgia Tech, but he is averaging a meager 23 yards per game. North Carolina obviously misses the experience of junior Ronnie McGill, who is sidelined indefinitely with a shoulder injury, but Arnold and Edwards should have ample opportunities to make big plays against the Wolfpack as North Carolina will try to establish the running game.

Defensively the Tar Heels are still a work in progress but have made notable improvements this season. After yielding 475 yards of total offense to Georgia Tech in the season opener, North Carolina limited Wisconsin to just 304 yards and 14 points, and it all starts with the defensive line.

DT Chase Page

North Carolina's front seven is led by redshirt senior Chase Page. Page, who missed last season with a finger injury, has six tackles, two tackles for loss, and a sack through two games. His defensive tackle counterpart, Shelton Bynum, has recorded seven tackles as they headline a defensive front that has done a good job of getting penetration into the opposing offensive backfield and allowing their linebackers to come up and make more plays.

Unfortunately, the Heels will be without the heart of their defense, Doug Justice, against the Wolfpack. Justice, who led the Heels in tackles against Georgia Tech, broke his foot in last week's game and will miss the rest of the season. Taking his place at middle linebacker will be junior Victor Worsley. With Justice out, outside linebackers Tommy Richardson and Larry Edwards must continue to play well for the Tar Heels. Richardson's 17 tackles pace North Carolina and Edwards' two tackles for loss are also a team-high. There is not much experience behind Worsley, Richardson, and Edwards, so another injury at linebacker would be devastating for UNC.

PR Brandon Tate

North Carolina has also seen improved play in the defensive secondary, as they start an experienced group. Senior Cedrick Holt is at one corner while junior Jacoby Watkins plays the other side. Both players are solid in man coverage and lead the Heels in pass breakups with two and three respectively. Senior Mahlon Carey starts at rover while Kareen Taylor is at free safety. Carey has played several positions during his career at North Carolina, including running back and linebacker, but appears to have found a home at rover. Taylor began his college career with high expectations and the junior from Fork Union (VA) Military Academy is second on the team in tackles with 16. The Tar Heels are going to try and stop the Wolfpack's rushing game early, so look for the UNC secondary to be tested by the Wolfpack wide receivers and tight ends. It will be an interesting battle to watch.

North Carolina's special teams are led by sophomore kicker Connor Barth, one of the league's top placekickers. Barth has hit one-of-two field goals on the year, but he's a definite weapon for the Tar Heels. Another weapon is junior punter David Wooldridge, who is third in the ACC in punting, averaging 43.2 yards per punt. The return game is led by junior Mike Mason, senior Wallace Wright, and true freshman Brandon Tate. Mason and Wright are one of the league's top kickoff returner duos while Tate is a threat on punts. Tate, a true freshman from Burling, North Carolina, has 78 yards on nine punt returns with a long of 26 yards, good for an 8.7 per return average.

North Carolina has plenty of experience on both sides of the ball and is strong in the kicking game. However, after failing to spring an upset in the first two games of the season, they may be facing their toughest challenge thus far when they venture into Carter-Finley Stadium Saturday afternoon.

North Carolina Game Notes

  • JUSTICE OUT FOR THE SEASON: Senior linebacker Doug Justice broke the fifth metatarsal in his right foot in the second half against Wisconsin on Sept. 17 and will miss the remainder of the season. Justice, a native of Port Orange, Fla, started the first two games of the season at middle linebacker and had made 22 career starts. He redshirted as a freshman and then started games over the next three seasons. He finishes his career with 205 tackles.

  • TRUE FRESHMEN: Six true freshmen made their debuts in Carolina's loss at Georgia Tech, including tailback Cooter Arnold, tight end Richard Quinn, defensive end Garrett White, linebacker Mark Paschal, wide receiver/kick returner Brandon Tate and fullback Nick Starcevic. Arnold started at tailback and Tate was the starting punt returner. White played in certain pass-rushing defensive packages, Paschal starter on the kickoff team and Starcevic saw action in the backfield as a backup to Rikki Cook. Redshirt freshman linebacker Chase Rice also saw his first action of the year against the Yellow Jackets.

    Offensive tackle Garrett Reynolds made his debut in the loss to Wisconsin. Reynolds split time at right tackle with starter Skip Seagraves.

    Redshirt freshman quarterback Joey Bozich came into the Wisconsin game for one snap after Matt Baker was briefly shaken up. Redshirt freshman wideout Brooks Foster, also a member of Carolina's 2005 NCAA champion men's basketball team, saw his first action on the gridiron against Wisconsin.

  • BAKER: QB Matt Baker leads the ACC in both passing yards and total offense. Through two games, the senior signal-caller is averaging 286.0 total yards per game, 21 yards more than NC State QB Jay Davis, who is second with 265.0 yards per game.

    Baker leads the league with 280.5 yards passing per game. He threw for 280 yards against Georgia Tech and 281 yards against Wisconsin. In two games, Baker has nearly thrown as many passes (76) as he did in the previous three seasons at Carolina (80).

  • MORE BAKER: Baker is UNC's most experienced signal caller and had played in just 12 games entering 2005, mostly in relief of record-setting QB Darian Durant. In the three previous seasons, Baker completed 44 of 80 passes in his career for 623 yards and three touchdowns. Redshirt freshman Joey Bozich and sophomore walk-on Ben Johnson are the back ups. Neither player has ever taken a snap. Sophomore Roger Heinz was set to be the No. 2 quarterback, but he began experiencing back pain in the offseason and had surgery in August. He is expected to miss the remainder of the season. Freshman Cam Sexton graduated from high school in December, then participated in Carolina's bowl practices in Charlotte and spring workouts in Chapel Hill. Unfortunately, he broke his ankle in spring practice, twisting his foot in the grass after scoring a touchdown untouched. He had surgery to repair the damage to his ankle and was expected to miss four months of action. Freshman Bobby Rome is also an option.

  • DEFENSIVE EFFORT: The 14 points Wisconsin scored on Saturday marked the fewest allowed by Carolina since it held Georgia Tech to 13 points last season. The 14 points were the fewest allowed by UNC in a loss since a 13-10 defeat to Miami (Ohio) in the 1998 season-opener. The 19 combined points by both teams were the fewest in a UNC game since Nov. 11, 1999, a 10-6 Carolina win over NC State in Charlotte.

  • PENALTY YARDS ADDING UP: Carolina had 12 penalties for 115 yards against Wisconsin and ranked 11th in the ACC with 91 penalty yards per game. The 12 penalties were the most since they committed 14 at Texas September 8, 2001.

  • HOLLEY'S CAREER HIGH: Junior receiver Jesse Holley had a career-high 90 receiving yards on five catches against Wisconsin. The five catches tied his career high. Holley's previous highs were five catches against Boston College in the Continental Tire Bowl and 67 yards at Duke last season. Holley has had at least four catches in four straight games.

  • WRIGHT'S CAREER HIGH: Senior receiver Wallace Wright had a career-high 91 yards receiving against Wisconsin. A former walk-on, Wright settled into the Tar Heel rotation last year at receiver and is currently tied for second on the team with five receptions.

    Wright also plays on all of Carolina's special teams and is the special teams captain.

  • EDWARDS' FIRST START: Sophomore tailback Barrington Edwards made his first career start against Wisconsin and rushed 11 times for 37 yards in the game. Edwards transfered to Carolina from LSU and had to sit out the 2004 season due to NCAA transfer rules. He has three years of eligibility remaining.

  • FIRST TURNOVER: Carolina created its first turnover of the season with a Wisconsin fumble in the first quarter. Senior linebacker Doug Justice stripped the ball from Badger tailback Booker Stanley at the Tar Heel 11, and junior defensive end BrIan Rackley made the recovery. The forced fumble was the sixth of Justice's career, while Rackley's recovery was his first.

  • PAGE SACK: Chase Page, who missed all of last season with a hand injury, picked up the first sack of the season for Carolina late in the second quarter of the Wisconsin game when he tackled Badger quarterback John Stocco for a seven-yard loss. Page now has 3.5 career sacks. Sophomore Kyndraus Guy added a second half sack for his first at Carolina, and Kareen Taylor and Larry Edwards combined for a third sack.

  • KENAN AND THE CROWD: North Carolina lost its first home of the season against Wisconsin. In 2004, the Tar Heels posted a 4-2 record at home, including a 31-28 win over No. 4 Miami. Against Wisconsin, the crowd of 60,000 equaled the fourth largest in Carolina history. The crowd was the biggest since the 2004 NC State game at Kenan Stadium, which was also 60,000.

  • BAKER'S DEBUT: In his first start since he was a high school senior, Matt Baker played well in Carolina's 27-21 loss at Georgia Tech. Despite finishing with three interceptions, Baker completed 18 of 39 attempts for 280 yards and threw for two scores and rushed for another. Baker was the victim of at least four dropped passes and all three interceptions came in the fourth quarter when Carolina was forced to go for touchdowns instead of kicking field goals. One came on fourth down from the Tech 2- yard line, the second was on an underthrown ball in the end zone with just under two minutes left in the game and the final pick came on Carolina's last possession with eight seconds left in the contest.

    North Carolina Projected Starters

    CAROLINA'S PROBABLE LINEUP

    OFFENSE

    Pos. No. Player Notes

    WR 5 Jarwarski Pollock- 13 receptions shy of UNC career record

    LT 75 Skip Seagraves- Returned for his sixth-season after injuring foot in 2004

    LG 77 Charlston Grayl First-Team Freshman All-America in 2004

    C 70 Steven Bell- Versatile player who can also play guard

    RG 78 Kyle Ralph- Preseason first-team All-ACC, on the Lombardi Watch List

    RT 65 Brian Chacos- Developing into one of the premier offensive linemen in the ACC

    TE 86 Jon Hamlett- Best receiving tight end on the team

    QB 7 Matt Baker- Leads the ACC in total offense and passing yards

    TB 32 Barrington Edwards- Started against Wisconsin and had 37 yards rushing

    20 Cooter Arnold- True freshmen who had 28 yards vs. Georgia Tech

    FB 40 Rikki Cook- Bruising back who can also catch the ball out of the backfield

    WR 9 Jesse Holley- Leads the team with nine receptions

    WR 2 Mike Mason- Had two catches for 35 yards vs. Georgia Tech

    DEFENSE

    Pos. No. Player Notes

    DE 42 Brian Rackley- Forced a fumble, Carolina's only turnover of the season, against Wisconsin

    DT 95 Chase Page- Had three tackles, including 1.5 TFL, against Georgia Tech

    DT 74 Kyndraus Guy- Made first career sack against Wisconsin

    DE 80 Tommy Davis- Had career-high 48 tackles and 7.5 tackles for losses in 2004

    LB 32 Larry Edwards- Had six tackles in loss at Georgia Tech

    LB 54 Victor Worsley- Has played sparingly at Carolina but will replace Justice (broken foot)

    LB 8 Tommy Richardson- Had eight stops against Wisconsin, including one tackle for loss

    CB 16 Jacoby Watkins- Broke up three passes against Georgia Tech

    SS 6 Mahlon Carey- Experienced player who has also played running back and linebacker

    FS 27 Kareen Taylor- Scored on a 64-yard interception return vs. Duke in 2004

    CB 13 Cedrick Holt- Seven tackles and a pass break up vs. Georgia Tech

    SPECIALISTS

    Pos. No. Player Notes

    PK 10 Connor Barth- Booted 42-yard game-winning field goal against Miami in 2004

    P 45 David Wooldridge- Had eight punts for 43.2-yard average at Georgia Tech

    North Carolina Two-Deep Depth Chart

  • STARTERS ARE LISTED FIRST ...

    OFFENSE

    WR 9 - Jesse Holley (6-3, 200, Jr., Roselle, N.J.)

    29 - Wallace Wright (6-1, 197, Sr., Fayetteville, N.C.)

    LT 65 - Brian Chacos (6-4, 301, Sr., Darien, Conn.)

    71 - Kendall High (6-4, 290, Jr., Salisbury, N.C.)

    LG 77 - Charlston Gray (6-3, 305, So., Fort Worth, Texas)

    60 - Arthur Smith (6-4, 275, Sr., Memphis, Tenn.)

    C 70 - Steven Bell (6-3, 280, Sr., Greensboro, N.C.)

    60 - Arthur Smith (6-4, 275, Sr., Memphis, Tenn.)

    RG 78 - Kyle Ralph (6-4, 303, Sr., Cincinnati, Ohio)

    79 - Calvin Darity (6-3, 302, Fr.*, Tallahassee, Fla.)

    RT 75 - Skip Seagraves (6-5, 300, Sr., Burlington, N.C.)

    73 - Garrett Reynolds (6-7, 275, Knoxville, Tenn.)

    TE 86 - Jon Hamlett (6-4, 252, Jr., Lynchburg, Va.)

    47 - Justin Phillips (6-4, 246, Sr., Pittsboro, N.C.) OR

    81 - Rock Wells (6-4, 244, So., Ivanhoe, N.C.)

    QB 7 - Matt Baker (6-3, 212, Sr., Rochester Hills, Mich.)

    18 - Joey Bozich (6-2, 228, Fr.*, Hinsdale, Ill.)

    23 - Ben Johnson (6-1, 190, So., Fairview, N.C.)

    FB 40 - Rikki Cook (6-0, 253, Sr., Montclair, N.J.)

    43 - Nick Starcevic (6-2, 235, Fr., Charlotte, N.C.)

    TB 32 - Barrington Edwards (6-0, 215, So., Bowie, Md.) OR

    20 - Cooter Arnold (5-10, 170, Fr., Mocksville, N.C.)

    WR 2 - Mike Mason (6-0, 190, Jr., Rocky Mount, N.C.)

    1 - Derrele Mitchell (6-3, 210, Sr., Winston-Salem, N.C.)

    WR 5 - Jarwarski Pollock (5-8, 170, Sr., Bradenton, Fla.)

    29 - Wallace Wright (6-1, 197, Sr., Fayetteville, N.C.)

    DEFENSE

    DE 42 - Brian Rackley (6-5, 260, Jr., Tallahassee, Fla.)

    33 - Hilee Taylor (6-3, 230, So., Laurinburg, N.C.)

    DT 95 - Chase Page (6-5, 280, Sr., Mt. Pleasant, S.C.)

    94 - Khalif Mitchell (6-6, 297, So., Virginia, Beach, Va.)

    DT 74 - Kyndraus Guy (6-2, 275, So., Hope Mills, N.C.)

    75 - Shelton Bynum (6-5, 295, Jr., Ellenwood, Ga.)

    97 - Kenny Price (6-4, 304, So., Virginia Beach, Va.)

    DE 80 - Tommy Davis (6-4, 270, Sr., Dudley, N.C.)

    90 - Kentwan Balmer (6-5, 282, So., Weldon, N.C.)

    Sam 32 - Larry Edwards (6-3, 241, Jr., Tampa, Fla.)

    52 - Jeff Longhany (6-3, 242, Sr., Wade, N.C.)

    Mike 54 - Victor Worsley (6-1, 230, Jr., Battleboro, N.C.)

    48 - Durell Mapp (6-2, 220, So., Burlington, N.C.)

    Will 8 - Tommy Richardson (6-1, 228, Sr., Miami, Fla.)

    44 - Chase Rice (6-3, 210, Fr.*, Asheville, N.C.)

    CB 16 - Jacoby Watkins (6-0, 177, Jr., Laurinburg, N.C.)

    9 - Quinton Person (5-11, 180, So., Greenville, N.C.)

    12 - Linwood Williams (6-0, 181, Sr., Elizabeth City, N.C.)

    SS 6 - Mahlon Carey (6-2, 215, Sr., Marietta, Ga.)

    31 - Trimane Goddard (5-11, 185, So., Robersonville, N.C.)

    FS 27 - Kareen Taylor (6-0, 195, Jr., Hopewell, Va.)

    28 - D.J. Walker (6-0, 185, So., Pisgah Forest, N.C.)

    CB 13 - Cedrick Holt (5-11, 190, Sr., Wadesboro, N.C.)

    9 - Quinton Person (5-11, 180, So., Greenville, N.C.)

    35 - Bryan Bethea (5-10, 178, So., Fayetteville, N.C.)

    SPECIAL TEAMS

    PK 10 - Connor Barth (6-1, 192, So., Wilmington, N.C.)

    38 - Lane Clemmons (5-10, 220, So., Fayetteville, N.C.)

    KO 10 - Connor Barth (6-1, 192, So., Wilmington, N.C.)

    38 - Lane Clemmons (5-10, 220, So., Fayetteville, N.C.)

    P 45 - David Wooldridge (6-2, 200, Jr., Advance, N.C.)

    17 - John Choate (6-2, 180, So., Charlotte, N.C.)

    DS 61 - Warren Green (6-2, 221, Sr., Dunn, N.C.)

    91 - Michael Murphy (6-2, 231, Jr., Goldsboro, N.C.)

    H 84 - Andrew Wasserman (6-3, 187, Jr., Coeur d'Alene, Idaho)

    KOR 2 - Mike Mason (6-0, 190, Jr., Rocky Mount, N.C.)

    29 - Wallace Wright (6-1, 197, Sr., Fayetteville, N.C.)

    PR 87 - Brandon Tate (6-1, 185, Fr., Burlington, N.C.)

    5 - Jarwarski Pollock (5-8, 170, Sr., Bradenton, Fla.)

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