Hartford, CT – North Carolina put together one of its best defensive performances in years in its opener.
Duplicating that result could be considerably tougher this week against a Connecticut squad that showed it still has the potential to be a dominant running team.
The 19th-ranked Tar Heels will try to shut down the Huskies, who will be looking for revenge after last year's lopsided loss when the teams meet at Rentschler Field on Saturday.
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"Everybody has some experience, so we know what to do," linebacker Quan Sturdivant said. "That makes it easier out there for us to go make plays."
Deunta Williams had two interceptions for the Tar Heels, while Charles Brown added one against the overmatched Bulldogs.
"These guys weren't trying to line up and just run the ball," Williams said. "They were trying to trick us and do different things. ... There's not a lot of teams that's just going to be able to run the ball against our front seven."
UConn, though, will almost certainly try. Despite the loss of star running back Donald Brown to the NFL, the Huskies had little trouble on the ground in their opener last Saturday, as Jordan Todman rushed for 157 yards and Andre Dixon added 100 in a 23-16 road victory over
Zach Frazer completed 11 of 24 passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns, but also threw three interceptions - just one element of the surprisingly close game that coach Randy Edsall was not happy about.
"We miss a 42-yard field goal, four turnovers, we had a holding penalty on first down, we had wide-open receivers and we couldn't hit them, we had a second-and-one and gave up a sack when we were moving," he said.
Edsall's team will need to get the problems corrected quickly. In addition to its powerful defense,
Shaun Draughn rushed for 118 yards and Ryan Houston had two short touchdown runs, while T.J. Yates threw for two scores to lead the Tar Heels.
As good as the offense was, coach Butch Davis seems particularly excited about a veteran defense that looked like it could be something special in the opener.
"Some of these guys, now that they've got 18 to 20 to 25 games of starting, the picture isn't as big as it was last year or two years ago," Davis said of his defensive starters. "The game has slowed down a little bit more, and they have a lot more recognition."
Draughn rushed for 109 yards on 19 carries and had a 39-yard touchdown run, while Frazer struggled, throwing three interceptions and no TDs.
That was only the second meeting between the teams.
Posted: 9/8/09 1:37PM ET