Tar Heels To Watch: Norkeithus Otis

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

In a one off game like a bowl individual match ups can go a long way towards determining the outcome of a game. Not that long ago SMU won a bowl game having by far the worst season of the two teams because Margus Hunt lost his mind. The goal of any coach in this situation is to find a match up they can win, repeatedly.

For the Bearcats the search for a win in the offensive meeting room probably began with Norkeithus Otis. Not because he is a bad player, quite the opposite really. Eddie Gran will seek to isolate him in situations where he is uncomfortable, in space.

North Carolina plays a 4-2-5 defense as their base. The Tar Heels brand of 4-2-5 is a little bit more aggressive than is the norm, the norm in this case being Gary Patterson's crew at TCU. UNC plays a ton of guys in hybrid positions. The usual hard edges between defensive backs and linebackers, or linebackers and defensive ends turn eight beers blurry frequently.

At this Otis is very, very good. At 6'1" 240 he has the strength, mass and lowish center of gravity required to play the hybrid defensive end / outside linebacker position very well, against the pass. Against the rush it is a different story, and one the Bearcat fans should be vaguely familiar with. Think Brandon Mills, starting defensive end.


That problem is very much the same with Otis. He is going to be a huge problem for the Bearcats when it comes to keeping Brendon Kay clean and up right, and thus functioning. But in the running game he can be had, if you run at him. As disruptive as he is and can be, Eddie Gran has to like his chances of matching up Parker Ehinger or Eric Lefeld against Otis in the running game.

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