North Carolina put all three phases of the game together on Saturday and blew out Illinois 48-14. It was exactly what the Tar Heels needed in order to put the season-opening loss to South Carolina in the rear-view mirror.
The Heels now face their second FCS opponent of the year when Delaware heads to Chapel Hill. The Blue Hens have a rich football history but the last few years have not been up to their usual standards. Delaware has not finished better than fifth in the Colonial since winning the league in 2010. They are off to a 1-2 start following a 28-21 loss this past weekend to Villanova.
This will be the first meeting between UNC and Delaware.
Delaware at North Carolina
Kickoff: 12:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: RSN/ESPN3
Three Things to Watch
1. Improving the UNC Run Defense
Gene Chizik has done wonders so far with the North Carolina defense. A unit that was No. 117 in total defense last season is No. 57 through three weeks and they have played two Power Five opponents. But the run defense still lags behind, ranking No. 105. Illinois ran for 227 yards and South Carolina had 254 on the ground. Delaware doesn't throw well, but they have a strong rushing game and that is how they will attack the Heels. Carolina has a good opportunity to shore things up before conference play begins with Georgia Tech and their triple option next Saturday.
2. Keep Marquise Williams Rolling
After the early interception, Williams torched Illinois with both his arm and his legs. Head coach Larry Fedora would like to see his senior quarterback continue the rhythm that he developed as the Illinois game progressed. It is unlikely that Williams carries the ball as often as he did last Saturday and ideally the Heels get up enough that back up Mitch Trubisky receives a lot of snaps. But Marquise needs to leave the Delaware game feeling as confident as he does entering the game.
3. A Dominant North Carolina Offensive Line
Just like Williams, the offensive line had a great performance on Saturday. Many questioned this group coming into the season and not many fears were alleviated after week one. But Illinois has a solid front seven and North Carolina owned the line of scrimmage. The Heels ran for 254 yards and both Elijah Hood and Williams topped the century mark. UNC should push the undermanned Hens all over the field.
The Tar Heels may have found themselves last Saturday. No one considers Illinois a playoff contender, but they are a team that went to a bowl game last year out of the Big Ten. With Georgia Tech on the horizon, UNC could be looking past Delaware. However, North Carolina got a wakeup call against the Gamecocks and Delaware simply can’t match up physically with the Heels. Chizik will have his group ready for the Hens and the offense will score at will. Heels roll.
Prediction: North Carolina 52, Delaware 7
— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the Irish Sports Daily for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.