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Heel Tough Blog: Duke Preview

Updated: Oct 30, 2019

@TarHeelFootball- Twitter

Saturday afternoon at 4:00 PM, the Tar Heels will return to Kenan Stadium for the first time since September 28th in hopes of claiming the Victory Bell for the first time since the teams 66-31 victory over Duke back in 2015. Not only will the rivalry be at stake, but this loser of this game will likely exit the hunt for an ACC Coastal title as well. Here is all the information you need for the Tar Heels crucial meeting with the Blue Devils on Saturday.

Team Breakdowns

Tar Heels

Offensive coordinator Phil Longo has been berated all week by comments about his play calling in last week’s game against Virginia Tech. While some of the criticism may be justified, it’s hard to get too angry about the team play caller putting in the hands of one of the best young quarterbacks in the country in Sam Howell (149-244, 1,892 yds, 20 TD, 3 INT, 66 rush, 5 yds, TD) who has already set the Tar Heel freshman record for touchdown passes in a season and is on pace to pass Mitch Trubisky’s school record later this year. He has been helped by the evolution of both Dazz Newsome (38 rec, 479 yds, 5 TD) and Dyami Brown (26 rec, 477 yds, 5 TD), who have both fit well in the new system to begin the season. Rotational options like Beau Corrales (23 rec, 261 yds, 4 TD) and Rontavious “Toe” Groves (19 rec, 193 yds, TD) have also slid into their roles nicely to help the Tar Heels form a budding passing attack. On the ground, the Tar Heels have formed a strong one-two punch with Javonte Williams (94 rush, 529 yds, 3 TD, 11 rec, 110 yds) and Michael Carter (97 rush, 478 yds, 14 rec, 104 yds, 2 TD) that Tar Heel fans have been asking the staff to lean to carry this offense with the struggles the team has had keeping the quarterback upright. That has been the biggest issue for the Tar Heel offensive line, as the unit has allowed 25 sacks so far this season, including five times a week ago. The Tar Heels will make a change this week, moving Joshua Ezeudu into the starting lineup in place of the struggling Ed Montilus, something that will hopefully motivate a unit that has been a liability for the Tar Heels, especially the interior of the unit.

The offensive isn’t the only unit that needs to bounce back after leaving a lot to be desired last week. The Tar Heels defense was gashed by Virginia Tech on the ground a week ago, in large part because of a running quarterback. Duke will pose a similar threat and the Heels need to be prepared to slow that rushing attack down. That begins up front where another injury slowed down Jason Strowbridge (22 ttkl, 2.5 TFL, 2 FR), who was one of the lone bright spots defensively a week ago. After struggling a week ago, expect Aaron Crawford (35 ttkl, 6.5 TFL, 3.0 scks) to recover well on Saturday. The linebacking corps had their worst performance of the season against the Hokies and must improve on their covering gap assignments. Chazz Surratt (63 ttkl, 7.5 TFL, 4.0 scks) is having an amazing season so far, and both Jeremiah Gemmel (50 ttkl, 4.0 TFL, 0.5 sck) and Dominique Ross (25 ttkl, 2.0 TFL, 1.0 sck) have been good enough to be confident that they will rebound on Saturday. The secondary is definitely having issues right now because of the amount of players that have been ravaged by injury, but the group has to continue to play through it. Storm Duck (16 ttkl, 2 PD) continues to step up, as does Myles Dorn (55 ttkl, 4.0 TFL, INT, 2 PD) at safety, but this group needs help from a pass rush that was lacking a week. Guys like Tomon Fox (36 ttkl, 7.5 TFL, 5.5 scks) and Allen Cater (15 ttkl, 2.0 TFL, PD) have to be able to get into the backfield with a little more consistency on Saturday in order to help out that young secondary.

The Tar Heels special have been a rollercoaster ride this season and coming off a down week, the team decided to make a major change. True freshman walk-on Jonathan Kim will replace Noah Ruggles (20-20 XP, 10-16 FG, Long of 49) at placekicker after Ruggles rough outing against the Hokies. Everyone else will remain in position, but the staff will continue to ask for more from the return games and coverage teams which have all struggled. Ben Kiernan (41 punts, 41.4 avg) has luckily been a steady force at punter for the team.


Coming into this season, many believed that the Blue Devil offense would take a step back and while it has done that, it hasn’t been a significant step back thanks to quarterback Quentin Harris (128-207, 1,271 yds, 12 TD, 6 INT, 91 rush, 417 yds, 5 TD). At running back, Deon Jackson (105 rush, 396 yds, 5 TD, 13 rec, 123 yds, 2 TD) has carried the bulk of the load with Mataeo Durant (61 rush, 226 yds, TD, 13 rec, 117 yds, TD) rotating in, but neither is dominating on the ground as neither is averaging more than 3.8 yards per carry. Amongst the wide receiving and tight end corps, the Blue Devils don’t have anyone over 300 yards, but do have four players with 195 or more yards. The offensive line is the polar opposite of the Tar Heels so far this season, as they’ve protected the quarterback relatively well, but struggled to open up holes for the running game.

Defensively, the strength of this defense is in the trenches, where Victor Dimukeje (27 ttkl, 7.5 TFL, 6.5 scks) and Chris Rumph II (24 ttkl, 5.5 TFL, 2.0 scks, 2 PD) are having breakout seasons. Koby Quansah (66 ttkl, 7.0 TFL, 1.5 scks, 2 PD) has done a good job at linebacker helping to replace the duo that dominated last week. The secondary has had a good start to season helping in run defense, but only has five interceptions so far this season.

The special team is led by strong starts for A.J. Reed (25-25 XP, 8-8 FG, Long of 50) and Austin Parker (30 punts, 42.6 avg). The return are still searching for their full time starter, though.

Team Stats

Tar Heels

Off. PPG: 28.6 (T-69th)

Off. PYPG: 273.9 (33rd)

Off. RYPG: 160.7 (72nd)

Off. TYPG: 434.6 (46th)

Off. 3rd Down %: 37.4% (84th)

Def. PPG: 27.0 (T-62nd)

Def. PYPG: 214.6 (56th)

Def. RYPG: 174.1 (84th)

Def. TYPG: 388.7 (62nd)

Def. 3rd Down %: 36.5% (52nd)

Sacks: 16.0 (T-58th)

Interceptions: 6 (T-50th)

Turnover Margin: +3


Off. PPG: 31.3 (50th)

Off. PYPG: 192.1 (106th)

Off. RYPG: 175.6 (56th)

Off. TYPG: 367.7 (97th)

Off. 3rd Down %: 38.9% (T-69th)

Def. PPG: 26.7 (T-60th)

Def. PYPG: 203.7 (42nd)

Def. RYPG: 136.6 (48th)

Def. TYPG: 340.3 (33rd)

Def. 3rd Down %: 37.6% (66th)

Sacks: 19.0 (T-31st)

Interceptions: 5 (T-66th)

Turnover Margin: -5

Keys to the Game

Protect the Quarterback

In seven games this season, the Tar Heels offensive line has allowed an astounding 25 sacks. The Tar Heels will simply have to do a better job against them on Saturday, especially on the interior, where the team was massacred a week ago. Not only does this fall on the offensive line, the running back and tight ends must show improvement, as well, when helping in pass protection.

Stop the Run

The Blue Devils have not had the easiest time running the football this season, but the mobility of Quentin Harris is the biggest thing that should concern Tar Heel fans. If the Tar Heels can slow down the read option that they are bound to see at some point on Saturday. That would put the pressure on a Duke passing that is throwing for less than 200.0 yards per game.

Force Turnovers

The Tar Heels have done a better job this season than they did in the past few at creating turnovers, but still have yet to do it on a consistent basis. In Duke’s three losses so far this season, they have had trouble holding on to the football. If the Tar Heels can create a few turnovers, they will put themselves in a great position to win the game, especially with how well the Tar Heels have taken care of the football this season.

Visitors List


5✮ WDE Desmond Evans- Lee County (Sanford, NC)

4✮ SDE Myles Murphy- Dudley (Greensboro, NC)

4✮ DT Kedrick Bingley-Jones- Providence Day (Charlotte, NC)

4✮ S Cameron Roseman-Sinclair- Myers Park (Charlotte, NC)

4✮ S Ja’Qurious Conley- Northside-Jacksonville (Jacksonville, NC)

4✮ DUAL Jacolby Criswell- Morrilton (Morrilton, AR)

4✮ ILB Ethan West- Cosby (Midlothian, VA)

3✮ WR Ray Rose- South Point (Belmont, NC)

3✮ DT Clyde Pinder Jr.- Armwood (Seffner, FL)

3✮ OT James Pogorelc- Chantilly (Chantilly, VA)

3✮ DT Octavious Oxendine- North Hardin (Radcliff, KY)

3✮ TE Kendall Karr- Stuart Cramer (Cramerton, NC)

3✮ OG Jonathan Adorno- Rolesville (Rolesville, NC)

3✮ RB Elijah Green- Blessed Trinity Catholic (Roswell, GA)

3✮ WR Tylee Craft- Sumter (Sumter, SC)

3✮ SDE Bradyn Swinson- Chapel Hill (Douglasville, GA)

3✮ RB D.J. Jones- Pine Forest (Fayetteville, NC)

3✮ ATH Jefferson Boaz- East Surry (Pilot Mountain, NC)

3✮ ATH Cedric Gray- Ardrey Kell (Charlotte, NC)

3✮ WR Stephen Gosnell- East Surry (Pilot Mountain, NC)

3✮ OT Cayden Baker- Fort Myers (Fort Myers, FL)

3✮ CB Jayden Chalmers- Lee County (Sanford, NC)

3✮ RB Elijah Burris- Mountain Island Charter (Mount Holly, NC)

3✮ RB Lamagea McDowell- Hunter Huss (Gastonia, NC)

UR ATH Dillon Mosley- East Surry (Pilot Mountain, NC)

UR WR Landon Stevens- East Surry (Pilot Mountain, NC)

UR K Owen Daffer- New Hanover (Wilmington, NC)


5✮ DT Payton Page- Dudley (Greensboro, NC)

4✮ RB Evan Pryor- Hough (Cornelius, NC)

4✮ WR Micah Crowell- East Forsyth (Kernersville, NC)

4✮ SDE Jahvaree Ritzie- Glenn (Kernersville, NC)

4✮ S Dontavius Nash- Hunter Huss (Gastonia, NC)

4✮ CB Kamarro Edmonds- Havelock (Havelock, NC)

3✮ WR Breon Pass- Reidsville (Reidsville, NC)

3✮ SDE Keeshawn Silver- Rocky Mount (Rocky Mount, NC)

3✮ OT Andrew Canelas- Leesville Road (Raleigh, NC)

3✮ OG Jared Wilson- West Forsyth (Clemmons, NC)

3✮ OT Colby Smith- Rockingham County (West End, NC)

3✮ OLB Jabril McNeill- Sanderson (Raleigh, NC)

3✮ TE Bryson Nesbit- South Mecklenburg (Charlotte, NC)

3✮ RB Derek Coombs- Holly Springs (Holly Springs, NC)

3✮ OT Diego Pounds- Millbrook (Raleigh, NC)

3✮ TE Nic Jones- Leesville Road (Raleigh, NC)

UR WDE Chris Lane- Dudley (Greensboro, NC)

UR DUAL Jarvis Evans- Buford (Buford, GA)

UR PRO Angelo Donato- Wake Christian Academy (Raleigh, NC)

UR WR Dominic Dutton- Glen Allen (Glen Allen, VA)


4✮ DT Curtis Neal- Hough (Cornelius, NC)

UR RB Nicholas Singleton- Governor Mifflin (Reading, PA)

UR WR Torren Wright- A.L. Brown (Kannapolis, NC)


UR DUAL Dylan Lonergan- Brookwood (Snellville, GA)

Injury Report

Tar Heels

OUT- Brandon Fritts (knee), Cam’Ron Kelly (knee), Trey Morrison (arm), Patrice Rene (knee), Bryson Richardson (knee), Jace Ruder (lower body), Myles Wolfolk (foot)

DOUBT- Tre Shaw (lower body)

PROB- Dyami Brown (lower body)


OUT- Brittain Brown (shoulder), Jarett Garner (knee), Mark Gilbert (hip), Gunnar Holmberg (knee), Marvin Hubbard III (achillies), R.J. Oben (shoulder), Jacob Rimmer (shoulder)

Projected Starting Lineups

Tar Heels



# 7 Sam Howell, Fr.


#25 Javonte Williams, So. OR

# 8 Michael Carter, Jr.


# 2 Dyami Brown, So.


#15 Beau Corrales, Jr.


# 5 Dazz Newsome, Jr.


#84 Garrett Walston, Jr.


#67 Charlie Heck, Sr..


#75 Joshua Ezeudu, RFr.


#68 Brian Anderson, So.


#73 Marcus McKethan, So.


#74 Jordan Tucker, So.



#56 Tomari Fox, Fr. OR

#51 Raymond Vohasek, So.


#92 Aaron Crawford, Sr.


#55 Jason Strowbridge, Sr.


#12 Tomon Fox, Sr.


#44 Jeremiah Gemmel, So.


#21 Chazz Surratt, Jr.


#33 Allen Cater, Sr. OR

#56 Tomari Fox, RFr.


#29 Storm Duck, Fr.


# 1 Myles Dorn, Sr.


#16 D.J. Ford, Jr.


#10 Greg Ross Jr., Jr.


#15 DeAndre Hollins, RFr.

Special Teams


#95 Jonathan Kim, Fr.


#95 Jonathan Kim, Fr.


#91 Ben Kiernan, Fr.


#61 Drew Little, Fr. (P)

#60 Trevor Collins, Jr. (K)


#96 Cooper Graham, So.


# 8 Michael Carter, Jr.


# 5 Dazz Newsome, Jr.




#18 Quentin Harris, Sr.


#25 Deon Jackson, Jr.


#11 Scott Bracey, Jr.


# 5 Jalon Calhoun, Fr.


#81 Aaron Young, Sr.


#87 Noah Gray, Jr.


#78 Casey Holman, RFr.


#69 Zach Baker, Sr.


#50 Jack Wohlabaugh, Jr.


#67 Rakavius Chambers, Jr.


#63 Jacob Monk, Fr.



#59 Tre Hornbuckle, Sr.


#54 Derrick Tangelo, Jr.


#92 Edgar Cerenord, Sr.


#51 Victor Dimukeje, Jr.


#32 Brandon Hill, Jr.


#49 Koby Quansah, Sr.


#33 Leonard Johnson, So.


#10 Marquis Waters, Jr.


#26 Michael Carter II, Jr.


#16 Dylan Singleton, Sr.


#31 Josh Blackwell, So.

Special Teams


#48 A.J. Reed, Jr.


#45 Austin Parker, Sr.


#48 A.J. Reed, Jr.


#58 Ben Wyatt, Jr.


#37 Jackson Hubbard, Jr.


#26 Michael Carter II, Jr.


#31 Josh Blackwell, So.

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