Mack Brown made his weekly stop with the media on Monday to discuss the Tar Heels win over Syracuse and the top 25 matchup that looms this coming weekend in Chapel Hill with Miami. He also provided some important updates on a couple of injured members of the team following that victory.
Defensive tackle Kevin Hester Jr. missed the game with a lower-body injury and Brown said earlier today that he will be monitored throughout the week to see if he can play against the Hurricanes. With Hester Jr. out, the door was open for others in the room to step up and they did. Myles Murphy had his best game of the past year and a half, finishing with five total tackles and a tackle for loss. Travis Shaw put together a great game for himself with the extended snaps, racking up three total tackles in his 26 snaps. Kedrick Bingley-Jones also saw the most significant action of this season, playing 17 snaps and registering a quarterback pressure. This is one spot where the Tar Heels have the depth to sustain an injury, meaning Hester Jr. can take his time healing.
Punter Ben Kiernan is a different story. He took a huge hit on the key first down run following his blocked punt and suffered a lower-body injury in the process. Brown said Monday that he will be monitored throughout the week, meaning there is a possibility that they will need someone besides him to punt for the first time since Mack Brown’s return to Chapel Hill. The team was never faced with a punting situation on Saturday after Kiernan’s injury, so Cole Maynard, who is listed as the team’s backup punter, will enter this game with just two career punts. The good news is that the way that the offense has been executing, he shouldn’t be needed much, but it is still concerning considering how much the special teams unit has already struggled this year.