Monday, December 26, 2011
Independence Bowl keys
By Heather Dinich
Here are three keys for North Carolina (7-5) heading into its matchup against Missouri:
1. Attitude. As simple as it sounds, if the Tar Heels aren’t emotionally and mentally into this game, they won’t be in it on the scoreboard, either. North Carolina has already announced Larry Fedora as its new head coach, and interim coach Everett Withers has already accepted a job as an assistant with Ohio State. Can Withers get his team to remain focused, even as he has one foot out the door?
2. Win the turnover margin. In North Carolina’s seven wins, the Tar Heels have a plus-7 turnover margin, compared with a minus-8 turnover deficit in the five losses. Overall, Carolina ranks 65th in the country with a minus-0.08 turnover margin. Missouri has lost 18 turnovers this season, compared with UNC’s 22.
3. Contain quarterback James Franklin. He's a first-year starter and a true sophomore, but he has caused headaches for opposing defenses despite an inconsistent start. Franklin enters the bowl game ranked 15th in the NCAA in total offense, averaging 298.25 yards per game. He’s thrown for 200 yards or more six times this season, and he’s also a big threat on the ground, as he has 839 yards and a team-best 13 rushing touchdowns. UNC has allowed just nine rushing touchdowns all season, but the Tar Heels’ pass defense is No. 90 in the country.