An Effective Restart
Something that has been very apparent in Mack Brown’s interviews leading up to this weekend’s game is that he is concerned with how the team will respond to ostensibly beginning the season again.
“We’ve got to completely start over,” said Brown.
“I think the reason you improve so much between game one and game two is you go right back to work, correct all your mistakes, and you’re back into practice mode.”
Brown has also highlighted the positives that have come with the three-week break, however. The two ways that has specifically helped them is youth development and injury recovery. UNC is still a young football team and is needing to play several freshman and sophomores in important roles. This time have given those players chances to get reps and study the playbook. It often takes several weeks for young players to work into the rotation in any given year.
Any injuries that occurred against Syracuse are mostly healed up now. One of the initial concerns was Joshua Ezeudu, the most versatile offensive lineman on the roster. He’s a starter and his health will be crucial for the unit this season. Any other knocks picked up seem to be 100% as well.
The Tar Heels were obviously rusty in their first game against the Orange, and the coaching staff will be hopeful that isn’t repeated on Saturday.
Jurkovec vs the UNC Secondary
The standout player for Boston College so far has been quarterback Phil Jurkovec. The position was a big question mark coming into the season. The Eagles 2019 starter was returning, but they were gaining the services of Jurkovec, a former four-star recruit at Notre Dame who transferred in. Would he win the starting job? Would he grasp the playbook in time? Many questions have already been answered resoundingly.
He hasn’t been perfect, but he has looked strong in his first two starts. In the team’s blowout win over Duke, Jurkovec threw for 300 yards and two touchdowns. While the Eagles looked very poor for much of the game against Texas State, a game in which Boston College was favored by 21 points, Jurkovec led a comeback effort from 14 down in the second half. The quarterback scored all three of the team’s touchdowns and led the Eagles in rushing.
Boston College will be meeting their first significant threat with North Carolina, and how the defense schemes for Jurkovec will be interesting. The UNC secondary took a big blow when starting safety Myles Wolfolk was deemed ineligible for the rest of season. Wolfolk has consistently made splash plays and brought a lot of experience to the field. This forced nickelback Trey Morrison to drop back to safety, though Morrison had already been cross-training at multiple positions. That means that true freshman Ja’Qurious Conley will be sliding into the starting lineup at nickel. Conley played plenty of snaps in game one and has consistently impressed the coaching staff since arriving on campus.
Those two will be the biggest names to watch on Saturday. Conley making his first career start and Morrison shifting positions at the drop of a hat.
Win the Turnover Battle
While this is pretty basic and true for almost any game, with the Tar Heels having to ‘start over’, turnovers immediately become a worry. Being careless with the ball was the sole reason the game against Syracuse was as close as it was going into the fourth quarter.
Turnovers kill rhythm and give the opposition a chance to swing the game. UNC had three of them against the Orange. Those came as two interceptions thrown by Sam Howell and a muffed punt by senior Dazz Newsome. Those are two of the best players on the roster and leaders of the team. If they can mitigate those mistakes and play a clean game, there should be no reason why the Tar Heels can’t win this game convincingly.