Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Short-handed Heels still favored against a top Division 1-AA school

Even though the North Carolina Tar Heels are injury-plagued and short-handed due to suspensions, and even though they didn't look good in losing big to Miami last week, they are favored against a team that is ranked No. 3 in the country - in Division I-AA that is.

William & Mary is coming off a 17-16 victory over No. 2 ranked Delaware. If you don't think those guys can play at the Division I level, just look at the last six games the ACC has played against the Colonial Athletic Association. The CAA is 3-3 against the ACC including William & Mary's 26-14 victory at Virginia last year. Remember, that Cavaliers team beat the Tar Heels.

Coming off that Miami loss, UNC probably just wants to get the bad taste out of their mouths.

"Our performance on Saturday is a direct relationship to our expectations about the way we play," UNC coach Butch Davis said today. "It has absolutely nothing to do with our opponent. We want to try to hold ourselves to a performance level and we didn't play well last week. Regardless of our opponent, we have to play better as a football team and continue to improve."

Davis said the coaches and players understand that the Tribe is a well-coached team that doesn't make mistakes. "Our kids recognize that we've got to play well," he said. "Our kids watch the film and they see a team that plays hard and is fundamentally sound."

William & Mary has won seven games in a row and are closing in on a CAA title and Division 1-AA playoff berth.

"I prefer to play most of our non-conference games early because once you get into conference play you’re focusing on that," Tribe coach Jimmye Laycock said. "But we really strive not to look down the line at what’s coming next and what’s coming after this. You just kind of look and say, ‘OK, this is what we’ve got to do this week so let’s put our attention toward it.' "

Laycock said he doesn't remember seeing a group of players as big and fast as Carolina's. "Man! They are good-sized guys that can run and run and run," he said. "It’s very impressive, especially at linebacker."

The Tribe has one of the nation's top defenses as they are ranked eighth in the FCS by allowing just 16 points per game. On offense, runningback Jonathan Grimes ranks first in the CAA with 147 all-purpose yards per game.

Quarterback Mike Paulus, who has seen action off and on this season, is a transfer from Carolina. "Mike's a very good kid, a very good quarterback and he's led them to some significant victories this season," Davis said. "It's bizarre, odd that someone who played for you is on the other team playing against you, I don't think i've ever faced that before."

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