Ryan Switzer

UNC players don’t have to apologize for swagger

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The University of North Carolina is strutting its way to the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte against No. 1 Clemson. The Tar Heels have not lost since the season opener against South Carolina, coincidentally played in Charlotte, and have only hit their stride now in epic fashion. The Tar Heels left Pittsburgh with a 26-19 win a few weeks ago and have followed that up with blowout wins over Duke (66-31) and Miami (59-21). A division that typically waits for one team to rise up and take it has officially been taken by North Carolina, and they should not be apologizing for how they are doing it.

During UNC’s victory over Miami, Marquise Williams and Ryan Switzer each scored touchdowns and celebrated by throwing up the hand gesture commonly used by Miami players forming a “U,” only to turn it upside down in a show of disrespect. This is certainly nothing that has never been done before by Miami rivals, and a number of players over the years have done something similar to the Texas Longhorns hook’em horns hand signal. Williams and Switzer each apologized for that show of disrespect for Miami after the game.

“We knew [Miami] would come here and talk a lot of junk, but that’s something we shouldn’t have done,” Williams said, according to Joe Ovies of WRAL Sports Fan. “You’re in the heat of the moment and it’s cool to do something, but you’ve got to show class. I told Ryan we can’t do things like that even if it was something you just felt like doing to let them know ‘we’re in this game the whole night.'”

Credit both players for apologizing for the unsportsmanlike gestures, but UNC is now on track to play in its first ACC Championship Game in program history and hopes to spoil the championship plans of Clemson. Should UNC manage to upset Clemson, it could potentially knock the ACC out of the College Football Playoff. A one-loss UNC with an ACC title could make a late push but the sense seems to suggest the Tar Heels may still need some help elsewhere to crack the top four. Is that fair? Who knows. There are too many unknowns right now. But if UNC does knock Clemson, and thus, the ACC out of the playoff, there will be no reason to apologize. They’re just taking care of business.

North Carolina is one win away, or one Pittsburgh loss, from clinching the division. UNC faces Virgina Tech this Saturday.

UNC grabs ACC Coastal by the Blue Devils’ horns

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It is well beyond time to start recognizing the good work being done this season by the North Carolina Tar Heels (8-1, 5-0 ACC). After picking up two pivotal wins against Pittsburgh last week and Duke this week, UNC is now in the pole position in the ACC Coastal with a chance to play in its first ACC Championship Game at the end of the season. That has become the reality of the situation after UNC pounded rival Duke 66-31 today on Chapel Hill.

This was a total beatdown from start to finish by UNC, a week after Duke was snakebitten by Miami (and the ACC officials). The Tar Heels clobbered Duke in the first quarter (21-3), outscored them in the second (17-7) and edged them in the third (21-14). UNC quarterback Marquise Williams completed 23 of his 35 pass attempts for 494 yards and four touchdowns before getting an early rest in the second half. Mack Hollins and Ryan Switzer each went for at least 100 yards and four different Tar Heels players caught a touchdown pass. There was simply no slowing down UNC’s offense for Duke’s defense. Duke’s offense did itself no favors either with three turnovers in the game.

UNC has now won eight straight games, with the lone loss coming in the season opener against South Carolina. In that game, Williams was picked off twice in the end zone. Since then, Williams and UNC have been on a roll. UNC has scored at least 40 points in five games in this eight-game winning streak and each win has come by a double-digit margin all but twice. IF UNC manages to get to the ACC Championship Game, they could be talented enough to give Clemson or Florida State a good scare if they keep playing this way down the stretch.

The final games of the season are none to take for granted for UNC of course. Next week Miami comes to town, which is followed by a road trip to Virginia Tech and a regular season finale at home against North cArolina State. There is still work to be done, but right now it is all in front of them, along with some serious momentum.

UNC smoking Duke on Tobacco Road, 38-10 at half

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Maybe Duke is still stunned over the events of last week against Miami. Maybe UNC is just a better team. Whatever the case, the Tar Heels are looking to score a second straight big win in the ACC Coastal and put themselves one giant step closer to playing in its first ACC Championship Game. A 49-yard touchdown pass from Marquise Williams to Bug Howard on the final play of the half gave UNC a 38-10 lead.

UNC jumped all over their rivals in the first quarter with three touchdowns.  Williams connected with Ryan Switzer for a big 89-yard touchdown play on their first possession of the game for the early 7-0 lead. Williams would later run in for a four-yard touchdown on its next drive, and Elijah Hood scored a rushing touchdown at the end of an 11-play drive before the end of the first quarter.

Duke seemed to bounce back in the game early in the second quarter when Jela Duncan ripped off a 52-yard touchdown run, but the Tar Heels continued tacking on with a field goal and a second touchdown pass from Williams, a 74-yard scoring play with Mack Hollins doing the damage.

With UNC’s win over Pittsburgh last week, the Tar Heels are in prime position to take a commanding lead in the ACC Coastal with a win. If the Tar Heels hold on to win this one, they will have a one-game lead in the loss column on Pitt and head-to-head tiebreakers against the Panthers, Blue Devils with Miami coming to town next week.

UNC QB Marquise Williams, WR Quinshad Davis cleared for fall practices

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North Carolina’s dual-threat quarterback has been cleared to go for fall practices. That is a very good sign for UNC head coach Larry Fedora and his offense.

Fedora confirmed quarterback Marquise Williams and wide receiver Quinshad Davis have each been 100 percent cleared by medical staff to participate in fall camp. That gives the Tar Heels two key players on the offense that is expected by some to have a strong season in the ACC Coastal Division, perhaps even helping North Carolina to make a run to the ACC Championship Game.

Williams suffered a hip injury that kept him out of spring practices. Williams is coming off a 3,000-yard passing season, going for 3,073 passing yards with 21 touchdowns to nine interceptions. In addition to his passing production last fall, Williams also rushed for a team-high 783 yards and 13 touchdowns to give opposing defensive coordinators a little more to think about.

Davis, rebounding form a leg injury, was UNC’s third-leading receiver last fall, accounting for 470 receiving yards and six touchdowns (good for second on the team). The senior is expected to be another contributor on offense this season along with Ryan Switzer and Mack Hollins, UNC’s two leading receivers in 2014.

Clemson paces All-ACC preseason team; Miami shut out

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Clemson was tapped by the media as the preseason favorite to win the ACC title, so it’s not surprising that the Tigers have fared well individually as well.

The ACC released its preseason all-conference team Thursday morning, with Clemson leading the way with five players landing on the first and only team.  Deshaun Watson was voted as the preseason Player of the Year, and received the expected All-ACC nod as well as 100 of the 163 voters selected the true sophomore as their first-team quarterback.  The next quarterback, Georgia Tech’s Justin Thomas, was named on 33 ballots.

Watson wasn’t the leading vote-getter, though, as that nod belongs to Pittsburgh running back James Connor, who received 148 of a possible 163 votes.  Others receiving the most votes at their position include one of Connor’s teammates, wide receiver Tyler Boyd (141), and one of the top placekickers in the history of the game, Florida State’s Robert Aguayo (141).

After Clemson, Florida State and Virginia Tech were next up with four players each selected.  Three of the 14 ACC teams went without representation: Boston College, Miami and Syracuse.  The interesting school in the latter group is, of course, The U.

Not only did the Hurricanes get shut out of the first team, the closest they got to landing a player on the squad was Deon Bush, whose 20 votes left him fourth amongst the safeties.  Other than Bush, Stacey Coley (21 votes, eight amongst wide receivers) Rafael Kirby (19, eighth amongst linebackers) Danny Isidora (18, ninth amongst offensive guards) KC McDermott (12, seventh amongst offensive tackles) and Brad Kaaya (10, fourth amongst quarterbacks) were the Hurricanes receiving double-digit votes.

It’s that lack of talent, or perception thereof, that will have Al Golden heading into the 2015 season on one of the hottest coaching seats in America.

2015 All-ACC Preseason Football Team

Offense
WR – Tyler Boyd, Jr., Pitt
WR – Mike Williams, Jr., Clemson
WR – Artavis Scott, So. Clemson
TE – Bucky Hodges, r-So., Virginia Tech
OT – Roderick Johnson, So., Florida State
OT – Adam Bisnowaty, r-Jr., Pitt
OG – Landon Turner, r-Sr., North Carolina
OG – Eric Mac Lain, Gr., Clemson
C – Matt Skura, r-Sr., Duke
QB – Deshaun Watson, So., Clemson
RB – James Conner, Jr., Pitt
RB – Shadrach Thornton, Sr., NC State

Defense
DE – Dadi Lhomme Nicolas. r-Sr., Virginia Tech
DE – Shaq Lawson, Jr., Clemson
DE – Sheldon Rankins, Sr., Louisville
DT – Adam Gotsis, Sr., Georgia Tech
DT – Luther Maddy, r-Sr., Virginia Tech
LB – Terrance Smith, r-Sr., Florida State
LB – Brandon Chubb, r-Sr., Wake Forest
LB – James Burgess, Sr., Louisville
CB – Jalen Ramsey, Jr., Florida State
CB – Kendall Fuller, Jr., Virginia Tech
S – Jeremy Cash, r-Sr., Duke
S – Quin Blanding, So., Virginia

Special Teams
PK – Roberto Aguayo, r-Jr., Florida State
P – Alex Kinal, r-Sr., Wake Forest
KR – Ryan Switzer, So., North Carolina