#16 UNC at #9 LSU: Street Cred Street Cred: It was the theme Coach Blaza instilled in his team all summer. After a tumultuous start 2011, Coach Blaza was able to turn around the Tarheel Season reeling off 6 straight wins to finish up 8-5. Sickened by such mediocrity, Coach Blaza really preached the "Us Against The World" mentality all off-season. "I let our guys know that 5 losses is not going to be acceptable around here. We finished strong lost year, but we started by losing 2 of 3 User Games." Coach Blaza said after the game. "User Games are where the big boys come to play. If we want to prove our worth in this OD, these are the games that matter. We had to earn some credibility around here and we did that tonight." The cards were stacked against the Tarheels as they came into Baton Rouge to face #9 LSU. It was UNC's first game of the season as they were idle in week 1. Not only was LSU coming off a big victory, but this was a dreaded night game. The Tigers' record precedes them in these type of affairs. The Tigers won the toss and elected to kick. With 6'6 Senior QB AJ Blue getting the first start of his career, Coach Blaza wanted to try and get him going early to get in a rhythm. The Tarheels had only picked up one 1st down when disaster struck. Blue fired a laser into the chest of Sr WR Todd Harrelson who subsequently let it bounce off his chest right into the hands of an LSU Defensive Back. With only 18 yards to paydirt, the Tigers looked likely to put 7 on the board early. But the Tarheel defense held strong holding LSU to a 20 yard FG. 3-0 LSU The rest of the 1st half was uneventful until about 4 minutes remaining when LSU scooped a fumble by Sr. RB Jamaal Womble deep in UNC territory. LSU unleashed Russell Sheppard as reeled off a few nice runs to give the Tigers 1st and goal inside the UNC 10. 1st down, turned away. 2nd down stopped. 3rd down, stoned. With 4th and 4 and a 3 point lead, UNC had a choice to make. They elected to go for it. STOPPED! Junior FS Terrence Burgess blew the Tiger RB up at the LOS leading to a turnover. "It was gut check time. I told my guys, in the huddle 'oh so these *****s don't wanna take the points? Ok! Ok! We'll see what's up!'", the 6'3 225 lbs FS would quip later. UNC marched right down the field and RB Dustin Clancy punched it in with 2:52 remaining in the half. 7-3 UNC. Here the Heels would make a mistake. After forcing a 3 and out, they elected to be the aggressor before the half. Blue missed on 3 straight passes forcing a punt. With the ball back and a little under 2 minutes to go, it became the Russell Sheppard show. The 91 SPD Sr. QB picked up 3 quick first downs with his legs. On 3rd down with 21 seconds remaining in the half, Shepp was pressured and threw a prayer to the corner of the endzone. FS Terrence Burgess went up and deflected the ball away from the WR. And right into the hands of and LSU RB. Touchdown LSU. Halftime 10-7 LSU. By the 2nd half, UNC had identified LSU's danger man. "Yeah I know Shepp," senior OLB Herm Davidson said after the game. "I met him on my visit to Alabama in high school. He's a cool cat. We all know the homie can play. What we wanted to do was take his legs away from him and make someone else beat us. Coach told us to go for the form tackle every time instead of trying to hitstick him. And he told our safety's to play inside out and make him make a decision on the pitch." The plan worked to perfection. The Tarheels tried to take away the edges and limit Sheppard's ability to get into open space. The Tigers went 3 and out on the first possession of the 2nd half. After 2 or 3 runs, AJ Blue went for it, launching a 65 yard strike to Jr. WR Jheranie Boyd. 14-10 UNC. The rest of the game played out in similar fashion as UNC was able to confuse Russell Sheppard into 3 interceptions and 6 sacks. Jamaal Womble punched another short run in at the 6 minute mark in the 4th quarter. 21-10. Sheppard had one last shot with around 3 minutes left but it wasn't to be as Sophomore CB Kellen Gatewood grabbed his second pick of the day. UNC would run the rest of the way eventually punching it in for the final score of the ball game on a tired LSU defense. Final 28-10 UNC. "Our defense played like some bats outta hell in that second half. I was especially impressed with our two big boys in the middle" ( 89 Soph DT Herman Davidson and 90 Soph DT Adam Miller). "Miller came up with two big sacks for us late." said UNC's proud coach after the game. "I also have to give it up to our young corners." Sophomore CBs Dan Ellis and Kellen Gatewood had 10 and 8 tackles respectively as they made several beautiful form tackles on the edge and kept LSU's speedy QB in check. UNC jumps to #13 in the nation and looks to propel themselves into the BCS picture with a slew of high profile CPU games in the next 4 weeks. GG Ryno.