Former North Carolina wide receiver Na Brown was affectionately known as "Spot" during his UNC career.
Brown, a great possession receiver who now plays in the NFL for the Philadelphia Eagles, developed a reputation for not being able to outrun defenders and make big plays.
But last year's Tar Heels made "Spot," who left in 1998, look like a speed demon. UNC's longest play of the season was 45 yards, coming on a pass thrown from Domonique Williams to Kory Bailey.
Things are a little different in 2000. The Tar Heels have already made 10 plays of more than 45 yards, including seven of 50 yards or more.
"It's just the weapons we have - everybody's playing with confidence," UNC quarterback Ronald Curry said. "The offensive line is putting us in good position, and the offensive coordinator is putting us in good spots."
The main difference for UNC is in personnel. Bosley Allen, who missed all of last season with a knee injury, has become Curry's primary big-play threat with three catches of 50-plus yards. Jamal Jones, who redshirted last season, has two grabs of at least 50 yards.
Curry is also key. His scrambling ability buys time for his receivers to get open, and his rocket right arm allows him to make accurate throws on the run.
"We've got good wide receivers, and we've got a quarterback who can get them the ball," UNC offensive coordinator Mike O'Cain said. "If you don't have a guy who can throw the ball down the field and get them the ball down the field, it's hard to make those big plays."
Metts Shares Bond With 'Pack
UNC center Adam Metts has some interesting ties to N.C. State. His father, Carey, earned All-ACC honors for the Wolfpack in 1968 and played on the famous 1967 "White Shoes Team" with N.C. State coach Chuck Amato.
In addition, Metts was recruited heavily by N.C. State through the efforts of Robbie Caldwell, who is now his offensive line coach at UNC.
Metts also had two brothers play at Duke, but he never forgets what side he's on.
"We were pulling for the Wolfpack before I was a Tar Heel," Metts said. "Now I'm definitely pulling for the Tar Heels, and I hope my dad is, too."
Bailey Still Hurting
Bailey, who pulled his right hamstring legging out a 78-yard bomb against Georgia Tech, has been downgraded to doubtful for Saturday.
"We won't know until Wednesday," UNC coach Carl Torbush said. "But if he doesn't make any more improvement than he made from yesterday to this point, he probably will not play."
Do-everything senior Antwon Black, UNC's backup quarterback, has played sparingly at wideout the past few weeks but should see more time Saturday.
Streak is Meaningless to Tar Heels
Players and coaches on both sides are aware that North Carolina has beaten N.C. State seven consecutive times.
But the Tar Heels don't care.
Most of them also know that UNC dropped five in a row to the Wolfpack before beginning the streak.
"This is not last year's team, and this is not next year's team," Torbush said. "This is this year's team, and we won't even talk about that streak. There's nothing we can do about it. For us to get to where we want to be as a football team, this is a big, big ballgame."
The Sports Editor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.