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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC line prepares for blitzing Aztecs

UNC v ECU football
UNC v ECU football

But don’t let that fool you.

This front six will do more to test the North Carolina football team’s young offensive line than most teams who play with seven in the box.

With a slew of creative blitzes, Aztec coach Rocky Long’s defense will look to confuse a Tar Heel offensive line that doesn’t have a single senior member on Saturday in Kenan Memorial Stadium.

“Their strength is they’re very quick, they play extremely hard and they swarm to the ball,” UNC offensive line coach Chris Kapilovic said. “If you let it get in your head and you start getting hesitant, they’re going to get a lot of negative plays.”

The constant motion of the linemen and linebackers during pre-snap reads will be used by San Diego State to try to get in the heads of the Tar Heel offense, causing missed assignments.

“Rocky Long — he’s going to do a great job, especially on that defensive side of the ball. It will be chaos on that side of the ball,” Coach Larry Fedora said. “If it’s anything like he’s ever been in the past, he’s moving guys around, there’s all kinds of exotic blitzes and different coverages. So it will be a test for us in that way.”

The Tar Heels might lack experience on the offensive line, but as Fedora noted, one thing they don’t lack relative to the Aztecs is size.

Of San Diego State’s six starting defensive linemen and linebackers, the heaviest is Senior Dontrell Onuoha, weighing in at 290 lbs.

On the other hand, UNC’s two lightest offensive linemen, sophomores John Ferranto and Lucas Crowley, both weigh 290 lbs.

With that size, Kapilovic said the key for the Tar Heels is just trusting their system.

“Our guys have to be very disciplined in our scheme and trusting the guy next to them, and just doing your job,” Kapilovic said. “Once you start worrying about other people, that can be catastrophic.”

The answer for the Tar Heels might come by keeping the ball out of the air and putting the ball on the ground.

While the Aztecs have the ability to bring a high-pressure pass rush, San Diego State’s rushing defense has been average, surrendering 3.7 yards per carry and ranking 55th in rush defense in 2013. In their game against Liberty, UNC ran for 208 yards.

For quarterback Marquise Williams and the Tar Heels, the answer will come with pace. And lots of it.

“It’s not going to affect us. We’re going to affect them,” Williams said about the Aztecs blitzing schemes. “Once we get the tempo going, they’re going to have to go to a base defense.”

sports@dailytarheel.com

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