Tag:Independence Bowl Preview
Posted on: December 21, 2011 1:23 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2011 1:53 pm
 

Everett Withers: 'I'm headed to Ohio State'

Posted by Chip Patterson

After ongoing speculation regarding both Everett Withers' future and the makeup of Urban Meyer's new staff at Ohio State, North Carolina's interim head coach confirmed he will be in Columbus for the 2012 season.

Withers was a guest on The David Glenn Show (listen to audio here) on Wednesday, and confirmed that being a head coach was a goal of his for "at least seven or eight years." But Withers appeared to have no trouble putting that goal on hold for the moment considering the opportunities in Columbus.

"At this present time I'm headed to Ohio State to be the assistant head coach and co-defensive coordinator," Withers confirmed. "For obvious reasons, to have the opportunity to work on a staff with Coach [Urban] Meyer and to learn and grow with him and what he's starting at Ohio State. It's a great opportunity, a great challenge for me, and I'm looking forward to it."

Withers took over in Chapel Hill after Butch Davis was dismissed just days before the opening of 2011 training camp, and led the Tar Heels to a 7-5 regular season record. As the interim head coach, Withers was a candidate for the full-time head coaching position. Athletic director Bubba Cunningham interviewed the Tar Heels' former defensive coordinator, but eventually hired Southern Miss head coach Larry Fedora as the next head coach.

Withers will coach the Tar Heels in the Independence Bowl against Missouri on Dec. 26. As interim head coach, Withers stressed the importance of this team's fourth-straight postseason trip and the opportunity for the school's second-straight bowl victory. The Tar Heels have not won back-to-back bowl games since the 1997-1998 seasons, during the transition from Mack Brown to Carl Torbush.

Withers' is expected to share the defensive coordinator duties with Ohio State's current interim head coach, Luke Fickell. Fickell was given the opportunity to stay on staff by Urban Meyer, though he has interviewed for the open head coaching position at Pittsburgh. Withers has had numerous stops as a defensive assistant before arriving in Chapel Hill, notably including stints with Texas and the Tennessee Titans of the NFL.

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Posted on: December 20, 2011 6:19 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2011 11:52 am
 

After eligibility scare, UNC WR cleared for bowl

Posted by Chip Patterson

UPDATE: North Carolina learned on Wednesday that Dwight Jones has been cleared to play in the Independence Bowl by the NCAA.


North Carolina's preparations to face Missouri in the Independence Bowl may include a situation that does not involve leading receiver Dwight Jones.

The school declared the senior wide receiver ineligible for the Dec. 26 bowl game after Jones allowed his name and image to be used to promote a New Years Eve party (flyer pictured right) in Burlington, N.C. - Jones' hometown.

NCAA rules prohibit athletes from allowing their name or image to be used to promote off-campus events by for-profit businesses. The popular Burlington nightclub using Jones' image and promoting him as a "2012 NFL projected top draft pick" for the party that includes 24 free shots on the hour "compliments of D.Jones" caused the All-ACC wide receiver to commit a secondary violation. Jones has canceled the party, and the process to regain eligibility began with his official statement on Tuesday.

"I apologize to my teammates, the coaching staff, and the university for the poor decision I made to allow my likeness to be used in the promotion of a party given by a family member while still a part of the Carolina football team," Jones said in a prepared statement. "I should have asked the coaching staff or administration before allowing this to happen."

The school has applied to the NCAA for Jones' reinstatement, and they expect to hear an answer before the team will departs for Shreveport on Thursday.

"Coach [Everett] Withers and I met, and Dwight realizes he made a mistake," UNC athletics director Bubba Cunningham said in a prepared statement. "Dwight has cancelled the party and we have submitted a reinstatement request with the NCAA."

Jones was one of the premiere wide receivers in the ACC this season, pulling in 79 passes for 1,119 yards and 11 touchdowns. He is listed as the No. 9 wide receiver in the 2012 draft class according to NFLDraftScout.com.

Get all the latest updates on Missouri and North Carolina at our Independence Bowl Pregame

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Posted on: December 19, 2011 6:52 pm
 

Independence Bowl Key Matchup



Posted by Chip Patterson


A look at the key matchup that could decide the Independence Bowl

James Franklin, QB, Missouri vs. North Carolina's defensive front

Ever since Missouri lost running back Henry Josey to a season-ending knee injury, most of the offensive success has been based around what sophomore quarterback James Franklin can create. De'Vion Moore has seen an increased workload at running back and Kendial Lawrence has added three strong performances since the Big 12's leading rusher saw his season ended by the "one in a million" injury.

The good news for Missouri is that Franklin has stepped up in Josey's absence, leading the Tigers to three straight wins to close the regular season. Because of Franklin's rushing ability, the Tigers' offense has not become one-dimensional after the loss of their leading rusher. However, North Carolina's defensive front presents one of Franklin's toughest challenges on the season.

The Tar Heels' front seven is anchored by Quinton Coples, Tydreke Powell, and linebacker Zach Brown. All three received All-ACC honors or mention, and all three are seniors who have earned the interest of NFL scouts. North Carolina ranks No. 2 in the ACC and 14th nationally in rushing defense, allowing just 106.2 yards per game. They were one of the only teams to hold both Miami's Lamar Miller and Virginia Tech's David Wilson under 100 yards rushing this season, and have only allowed nine rushing touchdowns on the year.

But despite the impressive statistics, the defense has suffered lapses at times this season and struggled to get off the field when they needed a big stop. There will likely several occasions in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport where Missouri needs to convert a third down and it will be Franklin against the Tar Heels. Containing the Tigers' star quarterback is the only way North Carolina can hope to give Gio Bernard, Bryn Renner and the Tar Heels' offense a chance to find a rhythm against Missouri's stout D.

Check out all the latest updates on Missouri and North Carolina right up until kickoff at the Independence Bowl Pregame

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Posted on: December 19, 2011 4:47 pm
Edited on: December 19, 2011 4:50 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Independence Bowl

Posted by Chip Patterson

MISSOURI WILL WIN IF: They can limit turnovers on offense and prevent the big play on defense. Sophomore quarterback James Franklin's performance in the regular season finale against Kansas showed both the best and worst of Missouri's offense sans Henry Josey (knee). The worst came early in the game, with Franklin tossing three interceptions in the first 18 minutes of play and the Tigers' offense only producing one scoring drive - which resulted in a field goal. The best came in the second half, with Franklin wearing down the Kansas defense and taking advantage of their weaknesses by creating big plays on the way to a 24-10 win.

North Carolina is much stronger than Kansas, and three first half interceptions may not be something the Tigers can expect to bounce back from in the Independence Bowl. As long as Franklin is smart with the ball and avoids turnovers, he can keep taking his shots through the air and on the ground until he eventually hits the big play. Defensively the Tigers are much better than their numbers suggest, especially when you consider the competition. Still, even the best defense can be broken down by someone like North Carolina wide receivers Dwight Jones, Erik Highsmith, or Jheranie Boyd. Running back Gio Bernard will likely see a heavy load on the ground as well, and the Tigers must keep the shifty freshman from breaking outside and hitting the sidelines.

NORTH CAROLINA WILL WIN IF: The front seven can contain and pressure Missouri quarterback James Franklin. Ever since Henry Josey's season-ending knee injury, much of Missouri's offense has been based around Franklin creating plays. Luckily for the Tigers the sophomore signal caller not only can extend the play with his legs, but take off and make defenders miss in the open field. In the first game without Josey - the Big 12's leading rusher at the time of his injury - Franklin rushed for a career high 152 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries while still adding 172 yards and two touchdowns through the air. North Carolina's front seven is filled with NFL-caliber talent. However, there have been several games this season where it seems the defensive line and linebackers have not lived up to that NFL-caliber hype. With the nationally televised bowl game, it would be in the best interest of these pro prospects to delver their best performance of the season in this game. If Quinton Coples, Tydreke Powell, Zach Brown, and the rest of the front seven are able to contain and frustrate James Franklin, they will benefit their own draft stock and give the Tar Heels a much better chance to win their second-straight bowl game. A win-win scenario for the NFL-hopefuls.

X-FACTOR: Who Wants It More? Missouri certainly enters the game with a momentum advantage, winning four of their final five games while North Carolina lost four of their last six. Missouri picked up the invite after being over by the bowls with a Big 12 tie-in, not a surprise considering the Tigers' upcoming departure for the SEC. It will be the last game for interim head coach Everett Withers, who has already confirmed he's not staying with the Tar Heels "in any capacity" under new head coach Larry Fedora. So with Missouri in between conferences and North Carolina in between coaches, the team that can find the motivation for the moment will have an advantage on Dec. 26 in Shreveport.

That kind of advantage will likely be necessary in a bowl game that has been decided by seven points or less five of the last six years, with Georgia's 44-20 win against Texas A&M in 2009 being the only exception. Regardless of the expectations heading into the game, that matchup has always been close in recent years. Maybe it is the mystic atmosphere of Shreveport, or Independence Stadium - where the game has been played every year since the bowl's creation in 1976 - but advantages in X's and O's seem to matter much less in this game. For either team to get win No. 8 in 2011, they will need an extra dose of "Want" on Dec. 26.

Check out all the latest updates on Missouri and North Carolina right up until kickoff at the Independence Bowl Pregame

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com