College Football: North Carolina-UConn preview
Published 12:00 am Friday, September 11, 2009
STORRS, Conn. ó North Carolina linebacker Bruce Carter can expect a lot of attention when the No. 19 Tar Heels visit Connecticut today, especially when UConn punts.
Carter blocked three punts last year against the Huskies, helping North Carolina roll over a ranked UConn squad in Chapel Hill, 38-12.
The North Carolina defense, which returns nine starters for the rematch in East Hartford, also intercepted Connecticut quarterback Zach Frazer three times.
“If we do this again this year, we’ve got no chance,” UConn coach Randy Edsall said. “We got three turnovers. We had three blocked punts and we had 11 penalties.”
In an effort to prevent a repeat of the punting fiasco, the Huskies revamped their scheme in the offseason, putting a three-player “shield” in front of punter Desi Cullen. Edsall said that should make it easier to pick up the rush.
“It does make me feel pretty important,” Cullen said this week. “It makes you feel pretty safe.”
The Huskies also have overhauled their offense, moving to a no-huddle, fast-paced attack under first-year coordinator Joe Moorhead.
It will be the first major non-conference test for the North Carolina defense, which was dominant in last Saturday’s season-opening 40-6 victory over The Citadel. The Tar Heels gave up just 153 yards, including 30 rushing yards, and forced four turnovers.
This week, they’ll have to stop a pair of running backs who each hit the 100-yard mark in Connecticut’s 23-16 win over Ohio. Jordan Todman (157 yards) and Andre Dixon (100 yards) replace Donald Brown, the nation’s leading rusher a year ago, who left school early for the NFL.
“They don’t miss a beat when one guy is in to give the other guy a rest,” UNC coach Butch Davis said.