It has collectively been a difficult year for Carolina football, one with relatively few highs and a lot of lows. As a senior myself, I’m disappointed this is the football season I end my collegiate experience with.
But it’s been a great four years, with so many highlights. Whooping Duke freshman year, with the first play being the flea flicker from Elijah Hood to Marquise Williams to Mack Hollins. Going to the ACC Championship in 2015. Beating Pitt with an incredible comeback in 2016 (I still get chills hearing Jones Angel’s call of Mitch Trubisky’s throw to Bug Howard). Dazz Newsome’s punt-return touchdown in Carolina’s thrilling OT game against Syracuse earlier this year. Two years of dynamic play from running backs Michael Carter and Jordan Brown.
Carolina fans watched the team earn the second win of their season last week against Western Carolina, 49-26. UNC’s offense put up the most points it did all season, led by freshman running back Javonte Williams’ three touchdowns. Their opponent this week looks to be much more difficult, as they will face a 7-3 North Carolina State team.
The Wolfpack is coming off obliterating Louisville last weekend and looked like they were playing angrily, after losing to Wake Forest on their senior night. They’ve been led by senior quarterback Ryan Finley, who’s thrown over 3000 yards for his third straight season. Wide receivers Kelvin Harmon and Jakobi Meyers have been dynamic for State too, with both being talented enough to perhaps head to the NFL draft in 2019.
To compete with NC State, the Tar Heels will have to do many things better than they have all season. The secondary will need to keep Meyers and Harmon in check, while also pressuring Finley to throw quickly. They’ll need to sustain drives and not turn the ball over, which was a problem last week when quarterback Nathan Elliott threw two more interceptions to the Catamounts. Elliott, who is coming off his best game of the season despite those turnovers, will need to be accurate and smart in the pocket to find holes in State’s coverage.
Other Carolina seniors ought to have big showings to close out their UNC careers too. Linebacker Cole Holcomb has had a huge year for the Tar Heels, leading the team in tackles numerous times. He should have another busy day Saturday. Defensive end Malik Carney is leading the team in sacks and will likely have the green light to go after Finley all game. You better believe he’ll want to end his collegiate career with an impactful performance. Safety J.K. Britt will need to step up with the rest of the secondary.
While it’s been a long season, the last four years have not been short of excitement and drama. Let’s hope the Heels have one or two special moments left this weekend.
Here’s what happening on campus the morning of our final football game day of 2018:
9:50 AM: Team arrival at Bell Tower Park
Welcome and cheer on the football team as they walk into Kenan Stadium! Visit tailgate tents and hear the Marching Tar Heels play your favorite fight songs.
10:00 AM: Tar Heel Town at Polk Place
Whether you’re looking for a tailgating spot, visiting other Carolina fans, or looking for a break from your walk to the stadium, stop by UNC’s main academic quad before kickoff. There’s music, games, and food: an all-around fun time.
10:50 AM: UNC Drumline Performance in the Pit
The drumline performs their cadence routine! Drop by to see us warm up, hear some spicy beats, and join the rest of the band in dancing along.
11:15 AM: Brass Performance at Dey Hall
The trumpets and tubas of the Marching Tar Heels warm up and play a medley of fun songs on the steps of Dey Hall.
11:20 AM: Marching Tar Heels Performance at Wilson Library and March to the stadium
The entire UNC marching band gathers together to play for those hanging out at Tar Heel Town. Hear fight songs and other fan-favorites as they head toward Kenan for their pregame performance!
12:20 PM: Kickoff against NC State in Kenan Stadium
Carolina football wraps up their season against in-state foes from Raleigh! Cheer on the Heels as they try to capture one final win in front of a home crowd! Senior members of the team and football staff will be honored for their hard work during their time as part of the UNC family!
The UNC Marching Band makes their final performance of 2018 with a duo of ‘Earth, Wind, and Fire’ songs! The senior members of the band, color guard, drumline, and cheer team will also be honored.