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December 14, 2010

Key matchup: NC LB vs. SC O-line

MORE SHRINE BOWL: All-Star previews | Five things to watch | Top performers | Notes

SPARTANBURG, S.C. - Each day this week, Rivals.com analyst Mike Farrell will look at the players involved in a key matchup for Saturday's Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas. Tuesday's matchup: North Carolina linebackers vs. South Carolina offensive line.

The players:

North Carolina linebackers: Stephone Anthony (Anson), Kris Frost (Butler), Ben Councell (A.C. Reynolds), Tremayne McNair (White Oak), Robert Davis (Thomasville), Ethan Gardner (Harnett Central), Alex Pauley (Northwest Guilford), Aaron Sigmon (Forest Hills).

South Carolina offensive line: Brandon Shell (Goose Creek), Shaq Anthony (Wren), Ryan Norton (Mauldin), Stephen Grommer (Spartanburg), Casey Baldwin (Seneca), Shaquille Counts (Irmo), Jairon Harrison (James Island), Coleman Hunter (Lexington).

The breakdown:

The North Carolina linebackers are the strength of the defense, led by the talented trio of Stephone Anthony, Kris Frost and Ben Councell. Councell could also see some time at defensive end in passing situations. All three, as well as Tremayne McNair, can make plenty of plays when they are clean, so the key here will be if the South Carolina offensive line can get to the second level and slow these guys down.

Brandon Shell and Shaq Anthony are both athletic with good feet. Ryan Norton and Stephen Grommer are physical linemen who like contact. If the NC 'backers come clean then the running game of South Carolina has little chance and the intermediate passing game will be affected as well. But if SC can slow down Anthony, Frost and Councell, things will open up nicely.

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