by Mike Potter
Is UNC’s new starting quarterback Bryn Renner, who completed 22 of 23 passes in the Tar Heels’ season-opening 42-10 romp over FCS member James Madison on Saturday, always going to be that accurate?
Well actually he isn’t. The Tar Heels are going to get a little tougher test today at 12:30, when Rutgers (1-0) visits Kenan Stadium. Rutgers is, of course, coming off a 48-0 season-opening rout of N.C. Central in the first game the brand-new FCS Eagles may have count toward someone else’s bowl qualification.
(Disclaimer: I work frequently for NCCU on the nccueaglepride.com website.)
Is N.C. State’s new starting quarterback Mike Glennon ready for an ACC opponent after Saturday’s 43-21 win over a good FCS team from Liberty? The Wolfpack will be visiting fellow ACC member Wake Forest at 3:30, and the Deacons are coming off a heartbreaking 36-29 season-opening loss at Syracuse.
And can Duke’s experienced quarterback Sean Renfree help the Blue Devils get turned around after yet another tough loss to visiting FCS Richmond - this time 23-21 after All-ACC kicker Will Snyderwine missed a short field goal and then a prayer at the buzzer? The Blue Devils will host the Duke of the West No. 6 Stanford — a 57-3 winner over San Jose State in its opener — at 3:30 and will try to slow down Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback Andrew Luck in an attempt to get their biggest win of the new century.
Truth be told, the biggest game of the day is really the State-Wake clash, another edition of an ancient rivalry that began when Wake Forest College was actually in Wake Forest and State was North Carolina A&M.
“They have eight starters returning on defense and they are only playing two sophomores and one redshirt freshman so they’re all fourth and fifth year guys on defense,” State coach Tom O’Brien said of the Deacons. “It’s the same thing on offense. The offensive line is all fourth- and fifth-year guys so once again it’s another Wake Forest type of team that has a lot of redshirt juniors and seniors, a lot of guys that have been in their system and played. “
UNC interim coach Everett Withers’ team will be favored, and the Tar Heels need to keep up their momentum against the non-conference schedule.
“Obviously Rutgers is a very good opponent, they had a very good win against North Carolina Central,” Withers said. “So we have to gear, and again, the improvement that you make from Week 1 to Week 2 two has to show up this week in our practice, so that we can be ready for a very good opponent in Rutgers.”
Hope always springs eternal with Duke coach David Cutcliffe, who has put together a competitive team he hopes can be in Saturday’s game in the fourth quarter.
“The challenge and concern for me is not Stanford as much as it is Duke,” Cutcliffe said. “That’s a kind of common coaching phrase, but that’s the absolute truth. If we don’t play up to our level of performance and capabilities, it will be very difficult to stay in the game with Stanford, but if we do, we’ve got a chance.
“We’re anxious and I’m anxious to see how we match up and how well we compete. These are the kinds of football games that should get you excited as a player. We’ve got enough guys that have played enough football that I certainly hope that’s the case.”