The North Carolina football team (1-4, 1-2 ACC) will travel to Syracuse on Saturday Oct. 19 to take on the Orange (4-2, 1-2 ACC) in the Carrier Dome. Ahead of the matchup, Assistant Sports Editor Jack Frederick spoke with The Daily Orange football beat writer Matt Liberman about how the team's match up.
The Daily Tar Heel: The Orange defense has struggled with the run the last few games. How do you see the UNC rushing attack matching up with them?
Matt Liberman: I think it matches up pretty well. I was looking at the offensive linemen for UNC and it seems to be pretty strong. The reason why Syracuse struggles so much in the run defense isn't necessarily that they're being overpowered by the offensive line, it's just they're missing gaps, they're not tackling. It's a lot of just simple things in terms of the angle that some linebackers and some of the safeties are taking when they're going for tackles. They get fooled by a lot of motion plays as well. Whenever there's a (run-pass option), they seem to always seem to get tripped up by it.
Looking at the linebacking unit specifically, it's pretty rough. Whenever they play three linebackers, of the three linebackers, Andrew Armstrong is the only one who has played linebacker every year that he's been at Syracuse. The other ones, Ryan Guthrie was a defensive end when he transferred here, and then Kielan Whitner was a safety. So they're really still trying to get acclimated and they're not exactly prototypical linebackers.
DTH: Who are some key Syracuse players to watch for?