College Football: UNC-McNeese State preview
CHAPEL HILL ó Mark Paschal likes that experts think North Carolina could be competitive for a change.
The senior linebacker also knows nothing will wipe away those high expectations quite like a season-opening loss to McNeese State on Saturday night.
The Tar Heels have thrived all preseason on being considered a dark horse to contend for the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Coastal Division title, with their projected No. 2 finish giving them just enough validation of their progress under Butch Davis. It will also keep them as hungry underdogs to favorite Virginia Tech.
“It gives a lot of us guys something to shoot for and try to achieve,” Paschal said. “The last few seasons being picked dead last is always frustrating, but as time has gone on things have improved. Now it is nice to have people pick us as one of the top couple teams in the conference. I think that is a responsibility for us to hopefully live up to those expectations.”
North Carolina, which finished 4-8 in Davis’ first season, could use a fast start to justify the considerable buzz. Players are hopeful that experience will help them improve on their 3-6 record in games decided by a touchdown or less.
A fast start ó with a trip to Rutgers followed by a visit from the Hokies ó could give them the inside track to the division title.
A loss to McNeese State could derail the season before it really gets started.
The Cowboys had the No. 2 seed in the championship subdivision playoffs but were upset by Eastern Washington, so they could provide a legitimate test. They regain 13 starters