Calfornia at North CarolinaSaturday, 9:20 am PT - ACC NetworkCRIS Opener:
North Carolina -12.5 O/U 66CRIS Current:
North Carolina -13 O/U 55Recommendation:
The overhaul at California is enormous. The Golden Bears have a new Head Coach in Justin Wilcox who is defensive minded which is the polar opposite of his predecessor Sonny Dykes. There is a new offensive system which is an up-tempo “spread” but very different from the “Bear Raid” employed here the past four seasons. Ex-Eastern Washington OC Beau Baldwin’s scheme is far more multiple and unlike the prior offense run here, it comes with a complex playbook. On the other side of the ball, Cal has scrapped the 4-3 in favor of defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter’s 3-4 alignment. The switch brings position changes, new assignments and the possibility that the talent on hand doesn’t completely fit the way it will down the road after a couple of more recruiting classes. While on paper 2017 does not look to be a great defensive season for California, it likely can’t be worse that the last four seasons where it allowed an average of 503 total yards per game.
North Carolina’s season outlook is dampened by heavy personnel losses to their prolific offense which leaves them without 98.6% of their 2016 passing yards, 97.6% of their rushing yards, 73.5% of their receptions and 71.8% of their receiving yards. An already unsettled offensive line could be problematic for North Carolina after projected starter Jared Cohen left the team just five days ago. The Tar Heels are expected to have to lean on their defensive unit early on this season while the offense progresses. HC Larry Fedora conceded earlier this week that he may have to slow the tempo down because of all the uncertainty with his offense.
It’s not difficult to agree with the assessment that each of these teams are weakened offensively heading into this season. However, California does return a boatload of skill position talent with game-breaking threats like RB Tre Watson and WR Melquise Stovall. The question for each side is how will their new QB perform in week #1. A huge fundamental question is how will the North Carolina defense handle the Cal offense which has no tape to study from and dissect. Cal will have to deal with UNC’s two-headed QB with no tape of either Brandon Harris (LSU transfer) or redshirt freshman Chaz Surratt running this offense. The upheaval for each of these teams loudly screamed under 66 when the opener was posted and with all the mid to lower 50’s key numbers still good, there’s enough reason to keep playing it.
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