Wake Forest-North Carolina Preview
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) No ACC team moves the ball as well as North Carolina does. That presents an entirely different problem for Wake Forest.
The Tar Heels – and the league’s best offense – will try to start conference play 2-0 for the first time in 18 years on Saturday when they play host to the Demon Deacons.
Safety Jeff Schoettmer calls that ”a good jumpstart for our season.
”But … we want to keep the ball rolling,” he added. ”We haven’t really accomplished anything yet. We understand that.”
The Tar Heels (4-1, 1-0) lead the league with averages of 38.6 points and 471 total yards, and they have scored at least 38 points in each of their last four games – all wins.
That creates a new set of challenges for the Demon Deacons (3-3, 1-2), who went up against Boston College – and the nation’s best defense- a week ago and earned a wacky 3-0 victory that wasn’t secure until time finally expired.
”The good football teams are able to win all types of games,” coach Dave Clawson said. ”The mark of a good football team is, you can win a game 10-7 or a 14-10 game, but you also have the ability to win a 35-31 game.”
This one certainly figures to fall into the latter category – at least for the Tar Heels, who seem better equipped to put up a huge point total than a Wake Forest team dealing with injuries to both of its top quarterbacks.
Sophomore John Wolford played through an ankle injury last week while freshman Kendall Hinton – who started the previous two games while Wolford was out – missed the BC game with a back injury suffered two weeks ago in a tight loss to Florida State.
Clawson says he’s ”not sure” how that situation will shake out.
”We’ll let you know Saturday,” he quipped.
Some things to know about the Wake Forest-North Carolina game:
FAST START: The Tar Heels are chasing their first 2-0 start to ACC play since Mack Brown’s final season in 1997, when they started 8-0 overall and 5-0 in the league while rising to No. 5 nationally before their only loss came to Florida State.
WEIRD STAT: Wake Forest is 2-1 in ACC play in two years under Clawson when it fails to score a touchdown, and 0-8 when the Demon Deacons do cross the goal line. In addition to last week’s win at BC, they also beat Virginia Tech 6-3 in double overtime last year without the benefit of a TD.
THE SERIES: This will be the 106th meeting in the oldest series in the ACC – but it’s also been renewed less frequently thanks to the league’s divisional setup. The teams haven’t played since 2012 and have met only once in Chapel Hill since 2006. They also will meet in 2019 and ’21 in what officially will be nonconference games. North Carolina leads the series 68-35-2.
BYE WEEK BLUES: Both North Carolina and next week’s opponent, North Carolina State, are idle the week before playing Wake Forest. ”Everyone wants two weeks to prepare for Wake Forest,” Clawson said. ”Maybe that’s a sign we’re getting respect.”
UNWELCOME RECORD: Wake Forest P Alex Kinal is 25 punts shy of matching the NCAA record for career punts and is on pace to set the mark by the middle of November. He punted 10 times last week at BC – by comparison, UNC has punted 12 times all season – and has 297 attempts for his career. He wants no part of the record of 322 set by California’s Nick Harris in 2000. ”I’d rather sit on the sideline and watch our offense score points,” Kinal said.
AP Sports Writer Aaron Beard in Chapel Hill contributed to this report.
Follow Joedy McCreary on Twitter at http://twitter.com/joedyap