This Saturday, the U of L football team will continue their non conference schedule against the North Carolina Tarheels. Last year these two teams met in Chapel Hill, with the Tarheels escaping with a 14-7 victory. Carolina would finish the season at 7-6.
The Tarheels were hit with NCAA sanctions in the off-season, receiving a one year bowl ban, 15 scholarship reductions and three years of probation for giving improper benefits and for academic misconduct. The Tarheels will try to start a clean era this year by bringing in new head coach Larry Fedora.
Fedora comes from the University of Southern Mississippi, and he is no stranger to the Cards. Louisville defeated Fedora’s Southern Miss team in 2009 at home and in 2010 at the Beef O’ Brady’s bowl. Fedora is known to run a “no huddle offense.” The new offense has worked well for the Tarheels this year, as they opened the season by shutting out Elon University 62-0.
Carolina returns seven starters on offense including junior quarterback Bryn Renner and stud sophomore running back Giovani Bernard. Renner threw for 26 touchdowns last season, and Bernard racked up 1253 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns last year. With Fedora’s quick-style offense in place, expect the Tarheels to be very dangerous.
Defensively, the Tarheels are a bit down since the teams last met. Carolina returns six starters on defense including senior linebacker Kevin Riddick (73 tackles in 2011) and junior defensive end Kareem Martin (40 tackles, 4 sacks). Carolina lost star defensive lineman Quintin Coples, who was drafted 16th overall in the 2011 NFL draft. They lost another starting defensive end in Donte Paige Moss who is now a free agent in the NFL. Fedora likes to use an aggressive defense, so expect the Tarheels to blitz in order to put pressure on Louisville’s sophomore quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
The Cardinals have faced two “no huddle offense” teams this year in Kentucky and Missouri State. Louisville did surrender 373 yards of offense to Kentucky, but they only allowed 14 points. They will need a repeat performance of that to defeat the Tarheels.
UNC will be looking to score quickly and attack the Cards with their quick offensive style. However, the Tarheels must also try to stop a powerful rushing attack from the Cardinals. UNC’s inexperienced defense contrasts with Louisville’s deep offensive line; thus, the Cards should be able to run the ball well in this game.
To win, the Louisville defense must force turnovers and contain the “no huddle” approach. The University of Louisville faces the University of North Carolina on Saturday, Sept. 15 at home. The game starts at 3:30 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN2.
Photos: Austin Lassell/The Louisville Cardinal