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FeatheredCock

Gamecocks open as 7.5 point favorites over North Carolina.

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NC is on target - but I wouldn't bet on Clemson till after the NC game at least!!

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It's pretty good. It could get ugly in our favor however. There's just too many unknowns regarding Coach Brown and the Tarheels - new staffs with new playbooks are always mysteries a bit in the first games of a season.

UNC will come in with three returning RBs that were pretty decent last season. They remind me of our Dowdle, Turner, and Denson in that they are a pretty solid group without being outstanding. They lost their top receiver to the NFL, and return only one receiver that caught more than 265 yds in Dazz Newsome, who was their #2 receiver with 506 yds. No receiver caught more than 2 TDs last season - they only threw 14 TDs as a team, which was odd because they threw for a decent number of yds, averaging around 250 passing ypg. But their QB left for the NFL as well, and they will have a red-shirt freshman (Fortin), red-shirt freshman (Ruder), and true freshman in Sam Howell Jr. to choose from. Howell was a big get for UNC - a 4* Pro-Style who flipped to UNC from FSU. In UNC's spring game, Howell started, and Ruder threw fewer passes but for more yards. Fortin played in 4 games last season (388 yds, 1 TD and 1 INT), and Ruder in 1 (80 yds, 1 TD) before both were shut down and red-shirted.

So offensively while I think the run game for UNC should be their strength, they will be as young as they can be for the season-opener, and will be going up against an upper-class laden defense (Wonnum, Kinlaw, Thomas, Smith, Brunson, Jr. Greene) in South Carolina. On paper, it seems to me to be a pretty sizable advantage in our favor.

Defensively for UNC, it doesn't get better. In fact, it gets much worse. UNC was pretty much next to last in every defensive statistical category in the ACC last season, with Louisville saving them most every time for the bottom seat. Perhaps with the new staff, many things will be corrected and improved upon. But UNC also lost perhaps their top 2-3 defensive players from last season. They lost their top 3 tacklers and their top pass rusher. Now, one could say that with as bad as their defense was last season, that losing contributors could be a addition via subtraction sort of thing. But again as with our defense, South Carolina will have a veteran offense with Bentley, Edwards, the Smiths, Dowdel and co., so that we might be able to again take advantage of their youth.

UNC's pass defense was their best defensive feature last season - it was 9th in the ACC, but for them that was good. They return most of their secondary, so to me it looks like: for offense, their run game should be a strength, and for their defense, it will be against the pass. Our own defensive liability more than anything last season was run defense, so we need to do a good job at stifling their ground attack, and force whoever their young QB starter is, to win the game on his arm. Offensively, our own run attack needs to step up to start the season. Bentley will need to be strong on ball security, especially through the air. He needs to stay calm at the start of the game..

The 7-8 point spread here looks good, but it wouldn't surprise me if we end up making a statement and win as much as by 20+......

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