Upon the hiring of Mack Brown, one of the main goals of his was to re-establish control of in-state recruiting, and beat rivals from the Triangle area. After a 56-24 win over Duke, Brown is 4-0 against NC State & Duke since returning to Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels were coming of an embarrassing 44-41 loss at Virginia last Saturday night, a loss in which dropped Carolina out of the AP top 25, not too long after earning a #5 ranking. Mack Brown has often said that his team hasn’t handled success the way you’d expect them to, but also they don’t fear taking on adversity head on. The game against Duke, could determine how the final of the regular season goes for the Tar Heels. They still control their own destiny to make it to Charlotte, and compete for an ACC Championship, but they need to take it one week at a time. They got off to the right track, scoring touchdowns on their first 7 full drives, jumping out to a commanding 49-10 lead, well on their way to a blowout win over the team from Durham.
Sam Howell continued his impressive play of late, completing 18 of 27 passes, for 235 yards, with 3 passing touchdowns, against one interception. Add in a rushing touchdown, and Howell looked like one of the best quarterbacks in the country once again in Wallace Wade Stadium. Speaking of the running game, it’s getting harder every week to compliment the job they’ve done, but Michael Carter and Javonte Williams set the tone early in this game. Williams, may have entered the Heisman discussion after rushing for 151 yards, and 3 scores. Williams has accounted for the most touchdowns from a running back in college football. Michael Carter added 85 rushing yards, on 17 carries, and he found the end zone once himself. Both Carter and Williams average over 100 yards rushing a game.
Defensively, Carolina responded in a big way after the disappointment last weekend in Charlottesville. They forced 2 turnovers, and recorded 5 sacks of the Blue Devils quarterbacks. While they allowed 26 first downs, and gave up 400 yards, this unit still took a step in the right direction, which was needed after how down the locker room was just a week ago. The blowout allowed Carolina to get young guys like Desmond Evans and Tony Grimes on the field, and they the potential to be playmakers in the near future.
Coaches always say they learn the most about their team, after tough losses. Mack Brown was eager how his players, and his staff in general would respond, and they did so in a big manner, possibly saving their 2020 season. Here’s what we learned in the Tar Heels 5th victory this season:
Javonte Williams is a Heisman Contender: Entering the season, if anyone on the roster had a chance at making it to New York, it would’ve been Sam Howell. While Howell has had a solid sophomore season, Williams has been a breakout star across the country. He has accounted for the most touchdowns of any running back in college football, he’s broken the most tackles, and is averaging over 100 yards rushing per contest. While it is unlikely he’ll make it to the ceremony when it’s all said and done, he’s definitely in the conversation at this point in the season.
Chazz Surratt is Still Good: After back to back, subpar games many people were wondering what was wrong with the breakout linebacker from a season ago. Surratt had been struggling finishing plays, and bad angles allowed bigger plays than we’re custom seeing made on him. He responded in a big way, leading the team in total tackles, in an individual bounce back game.
Emery Simmons Has Arrived: Once Beau Corrales went down with an injury that would keep him on the sidelines for an extended period of time, finding that third target for Sam Howell, became a focus for the Tar Heels passing attack. They found that third option in Emery Simmons. He caught 2 passes today, including a contested 51 yarder, that gave the offense a first and goal situation. While it’s unclear when Beau will return, it is clear that Simmons is poised for a bigger role in an already potent offense.