College football scouting reports for UNC, Duke and NC State

csmith@newsobserver.comSeptember 6, 2013 

Middle Tennessee (1-0) at North Carolina (0-1)

Kickoff: 12:30 p.m., Kenan Stadium

TV/Radio: CW22, WCHL-97.9, WTKK-106.1

PPG: Middle Tennessee 45, North Carolina 10

Allowed: Middle Tennessee 24, North Carolina 27

3 and out

•  Keep an eye on: MTSU’s running backs. Sophomore Jordan Parker and senior William Pratcher share carries. Parker is the lead back, but Pratcher was the top rusher in 2011.

Parker ran for 851 yards last year and got off to a hot start with 22 carries for 171 yards and a touchdown in a 45-24 opening win against Western Carolina. Pratcher had just 10 carries but finished with 71 yards – matching Parker with 7.1 yard per carry – and two touchdowns.

•  Magic number: 440.8. Middle Tennessee can score (it put up 49 in a win against Georgia Tech last season) and opened this season with a 45-point performance, but its defense is lacking. The Blue Raiders ranked 92nd nationally last season in total defense (440.8 yards per game) and on Saturday they’re likely to be without defensive tackle Jimmy Staten, one of their most experienced players. Mississippi State and Arkansas State both scored 45 against MTSU last season.

•  Why North Carolina is favored: The Tar Heels’ offense struggled at SEC heavyweight South Carolina, but Saturday should be a bit easier, given the Blue Raiders’ issues on defense.

Middle Tennessee has three wins over ACC opponents since 2008 (two against Maryland 2008-09 and a 49-28 victory over Georgia Tech in 2012) and sees plenty of spread offenses, but its lack of size at defensive end – both are 240 pounds – and two members of the secondary starting the second game of their careers should be areas the Tar Heels can exploit.

Duke (1-0) at Memphis (0-0)

Kickoff: 4:30 p.m., Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium

TV/Radio: ESPN3 (online only), WKIX-102.9, WDNC-620

PPG: Duke 45, Memphis 24.4 (2012)

Allowed: Duke 0, Memphis 30.2 (2012)

3 and out

•  Keep an eye on: Redshirt senior quarterback Jacob Karam. The Texas Tech transfer finished last season with 1,895 passing yards, 14 touchdowns and a school-record three interceptions, starting all 12 games. Karam also rushed 78 times for 363 yards, good enough to be the second-leading returning rusher.

Karam didn’t play particularly well against Duke last season, however, going 13-of-22 for 81 yards and no touchdowns. He also was sacked four times.

•  Magic number: 2-0. A victory would give Duke its first 2-0 start since 1998.

•  Why Duke is favored: Anthony Boone and Co. looked comfortable in the opening win and face largely the same team it handled last season. Memphis returns 15 starters, but each was a part of a 4-8 team. The Tigers finished last season with three straight wins thanks to a rotation of five defensive linemen that combined for 33.5 sacks, but the loss of three offensive linemen with a combined 47 starts could make the Blue Devils’ defensive line the story.

The Tigers could put up a fight if they look like the team that finished 3-0 and surrendered just 18.7 points per game or could crumble quickly if they show up as the team that went 1-8 and gave up 34.11 ppg to start the season.

Richmond (1-0) at N.C. State (1-0)

Kickoff: 6 p.m., Carter-Finley Stadium

TV/Radio: ESPN3 (online only), Mix-101.5

PPG: Richmond 34; N.C. State 40

Allowed: Richmond 0; N.C. State 14

3 and out

•  Keep an eye on: Senior receiver Ben Edwards. The 6-foot, 200-pound Edwards caught 80 passes last season for 852 yards and three touchdowns, good enough to earn him 2012 First-Team All-CAA honors.

Edwards was named to several receiver watch lists and Phil Steele’s second-team preseason All-CAA team. The senior responded to the preseason hype with a team-leading seven catches for 95 yards and one touchdown in the Spiders’ opening win against Virginia Military Institute.

•  Magic number: 2-3. The Spiders played one ACC opponent each of the past five seasons and went 2-3. Richmond is 2-0 against Duke (wins in 2009 and 2011), but dropped three games to Virginia in 2008, 2010 and 2012.

•  Why N.C. State is favored: Seven FCS teams beat FBS teams last week, but don’t expect that Saturday. The Wolfpack will be going with their second option at quarterback, but the Pack’s offensive line outweighs the Richmond defensive line by an average of 30 pounds, which should give Pete Thomas plenty of time to find his receivers and State’s backs ample room to run.

Shadrach Thornton’s return from suspension should bolster the Pack’s running game, which totaled 237 yards in the opener. Matt Dayes had 84 of those yards and three of the Pack’s four rushing touchdowns.

Other area games

•  St. Augustine’s at N.C. Central, 2 p.m., O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium: The Eagles will try to bounce back from a 45-0 loss at Duke, but the Falcons’ defense led by defensive lineman Javarous Faulk could spell trouble for Jordan Reid and the NCCU offense. Central has dominated the series, going 26-2-1, but they haven’t met since 2007.

•  Virginia-Wise at Campbell, 6 p.m., Barker-Lane Stadium: Coach Mike Minter and the Camels will attempt to pick up the pieces after a 52-7 loss at Charlotte when they take on UVa-Wise in their home opener. Cambell is 2-0 in the series, including a 10-0 win last season.

•  Charleston (W.Va.) at Shaw, 1 p.m., Durham County Memorial Stadium: The Bears will start the season with a new quarterback, likely Quinshon Odoms, but return top running back Marquise Grizzle and receiver Derek Grant. Coach Robert Massey expects the Bears to pound it this season. “We’re not going to throw the ball 50 times like we did last year,” Massey said in a release. “We’ve got a veteran offensive line and a good running back corps, so we’re going to mix it up.”

Smith: 919-829-8941; Twitter: @RCorySmith

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service