The Tar Heels will attempt to get to 3-0 for the second time in three seasons as they face Georgia State in Atlanta. The Panthers will provide the Tar Heels a much stiffer test than they did a year ago in Chapel Hill, but the hope is that this can be a strong close to the first quarter of the regular season before a bye week. Here is a look at the keys to a Tar Heel win today.
Show Some Sort of Defensive Pulse
After the worst defensive quarter in the history of the Tar Heel program, this side of the football is in desperate need of a rebound. Outside of a solid second and third quarter against Appalachian State last weekend, this unit has looked less than stellar to say the least this season, primarily in the defensive front and secondary. The team just needs to show some sort of defensive pulse in this game and help to provide a hand for an offense that has had to do most of the heavy lifting so far this season.
Get Off to a Fast Start
With this being the first time that a Power 5 opponent will play at Georgia State, there a lot of unknowns about the type of environment that the Tar Heels will walk into on Saturday. While it almost certainly won’t match the environment that they faced a week ago, this still has to potential to be pretty nice environment, especially if the Panthers get off to a strong start. The Panthers have a much stronger defense than the first two that the Tar Heels have faced this season, so playing from behind will be a much tougher task than a weak ago. Getting off to a quick start and playing with a comfortable lead would be a nice change of pace after last week and could help to instill some confidence in that defense that has been struggling.
Protect Your Quarterback
The Panthers are one of the more productive defensive fronts at the Group of 5 level and made life difficult for South Carolina quarterback Spencer Rattler in Week 1. The Tar Heels revamped offensive line has done a good job so far this season at protecting Drake Maye, but against this Georgia State defensive line unit that has some nice talent across the line, this will be their biggest test yet. The uncertainty of Spencer Rolland’s status adds an extra element to this key, but they simpy have to be able to protect Maye if they want to be able to move the football at a high level again this week.