|UNC looking to slow Brown, No. 24 UConn|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 03 October 2008 12:36|
So who would've thought the up-and-coming Tar Heels' first Top 25 test instead would come from Connecticut?
``I didn't really know much about UConn,'' safety Deunta Williams said. ``I know now.''
So does the rest of the college football world.
The 24th-ranked Huskies, the defending Big East co-champions, were picked in the preseason to finish sixth in the league but have produced the nation's leading rusher and on Saturday night will be out for their first 6-0 start as members of the Bowl Subdivision.
Still, the Huskies may have good reason to feel disrespected. After all, a North Carolina win wouldn't technically be an upset - the Tar Heels are seven-point favorites.
s,'' running back Donald Brown said. ``We're going to stay hungry. We really don't have much respect. The rankings really don't mean anything. You lose in one week and it's all gone.''
Brown, who is averaging more than 181 yards per game, has helped the Huskies start strong for the second straight year. One more victory and they'll match the start in 1995, when they were in what was known as Division I-AA and they were led by Skip Holtz, who's now coaching 120 miles east of Chapel Hill at East Carolina.
``They play as good a team ball as we've seen,'' Williams said. ``No one really stands out too much, except for their running back, who's doing an excellent job running the ball. We're just going to try to slow him down, not let him win the game for him, try to make them beat us in different ways other than running the ball.''
That puts more pressure on the backups-turned-starting quarterbacks for both teams.
For North Carolina (3-1), junior Cameron Sexton will make his first start in two years after coming off the bench to relieve ineffective redshirt freshman Mike Paulus - playing only because starter T.J. Yates is out with a broken left ankle - and throwing the winning touchdown pass in the final minute of a 28-24 win at Miami.
UConn's starter also is out - Tyler Lorenzen broke his right foot last week at Louisville - leaving sophomore Zach Fraser to make his first start. Fraser made his first appearance last week, going 8-of-15 for 90 yards and a touchdown in that 26-21 win over the Cardinals.
``Zach can run the ball if we want him to,'' coach Randy Edsall said, ``but I think Zach's a better passer than Tyler was.''
If that's true, Fraser could provide some balance for a Huskies offense that ranks 106th nationally and seemingly has the philosophy of handing off to Brown and getting out of the way: He has rushed on 41 percent of UConn's plays so far, and his 956 total yards represent nearly half of what the team has gained.
Now he's looking to add to those numbers against a North Carolina defense that is improved, yet only ranks in the middle of the pack nationally.
``We talk about it all the time, about making sure you do your job before you try to do someone else's job,'' coach Butch Davis said. ``I've seen it happen before, when another team pops a run on you or a big pass play, then all of a sudden the secondary guy wants to try to help his teammate out and starts leaning that way. Then he gives up a play.
``You've just got to play better the next snap, and the fire is out and you don't have to make any major catastrophic adjustments. That's part of growing up as a football team.''
The Tar Heels hoped to continue making strides in Davis' second season, even if some of the opponents they expected to be in the Top 25 weren't in the polls when the teams played.
North Carolina was tabbed as a darkhorse to contend in the Coastal Division and hoped to pounce on favorite Virginia Tech two weeks ago in Chapel Hill, but blew a late two-touchdown lead after Yates' injury.
Now, after that last-minute win at Miami, the Tar Heels hope to take another step forward and beat a ranked team for the first time since 2005. They have lost nine straight against Top 25 teams since beating then-No. 19 Boston College three years ago.
``I figured we'd be 4-0 at this point, but we couldn't get V-Tech,'' Williams said.