Saturday night in Kenan Stadium will be one of the best environments for a Tar Heel football game in program history. Many fans are excited to head to Kenan Stadium for the first time in years, which should make for an electric environment on Saturday night. Not only will it be Mack Brown’s return to the Kenan Stadium sidelines, it will also be a crucial ACC Coastal matchup. Let’s get you set for Saturday night’s battle in Kenan against the Miami Hurricanes.
The Heels came into Charlotte with the challenge of installing a new scheme on both sides of the football and both units performed about as well as you could ask. On offense, it started with the performance of the offensive line, which came into the game with the most questions of any position group on the offensive side of the football. Seniors Charlie Heck and Nick Polino had strong performances as expected, but the emergence of sophomore Jordan Tucker and redshirt freshman Ed Montilus was a bit unexpected. With the offensive line paving the way, the Tar Heels ran for 238 yards, led by big performances from each of the Tar Heels big three at running back. Javonte Williams (18 rush, 102 yds) and Michael Carter (16 rush, 77 yds) handled the bulk of the carries, something that you would expect after the release of the unofficial depth chart last Monday. That great running game helped keep the Tar Heels in the game in the first half, allowing for true freshman quarterback Sam Howell (15-24, 245 yds, 2-0 TD-INT, 10 rush, 6 yds) to settle in and engineer a big second half and a memorable comeback. The Tar Heel wide receiving corps looks to be in solid shape and Dyami Brown (4 rec, 69 yds, TD, 6 tar) and Rontavius Groves (3 rec, 35 yds) had productive starts to their 2019 season alongside Dazz Newsome (4 rec, 74 yds). The offense got off to a great start and has to build off of that momentum on Saturday.
Pair that offensive performance with one of the best defensive performances since the turn of the decade and you can see why there is so much optimism around this Tar Heel team after Week 1. Despite some early tackling struggles, the Tar Heels defense allowed just 270 yards of total offense, including just 128 yards on the ground. Myles Wolfolk (6 ttkl, 2 INT) made the two biggest plays of the afternoon, but he wasn’t the only player in the secondary that had a big day. Both Greg Ross Jr. (6 ttkl, 1.0 TFL) and true freshman Storm Duck (1 ttkl) surprised, while Patrice Rene (1 ttkl) returned after a first half suspension to provide added support in the second half. The other defensive standout came in the linebacking corps, where Chazz Surratt (12 ttkl, 1.0 TFL, 1.0 scks) got his career at linebacker off to a great start. He combined that with Jeremiah Gemmel’s (5 ttkl, 0.5 TFL, 0.5 sck) solid performance to eliminate the concerns that many had about the middle of the defense. The defensive line also had a good performance on Saturday, boosted by a strong second half, headlined by its stars, Aaron Crawford (6 ttkl, 2.0 TFL, 1.0 sck), Jason Strowbridge (2 ttkl, 1.0 TFL) and Tomon Fox (4 ttkl, 0.5 TFL, 0.5 sck). There is definitely some hesitance to get overly excited, but this defense showed some encouraging signs in the opener.
The special teams unit left some concerns, but strangely enough it wasn’t the kicking game that was the issue. Noah Ruggles (2-2 XP, 3-4 FG, Long of 24) had a good game, with his only miss being a block that was because of a protection breakdown, while true freshman punter Ben Kiernan (5 punts, 41.6 avg) gave people some confidence about him going forward. The coverage units on both kicks and punts will have to improve after allowing 166 return yards to the Gamecocks.
The Hurricanes will be motivated coming off a tough loss to Florida in the season opener. Offensively, the Hurricanes continued to struggle scoring points, but it appears they have found their quarterback. Although Jarren Williams (19-29, 214 yds, 1-0 TD-INT, 14 rush, -44 yds) was sacked ten times, he was still able to move the offense down the field when he wasn’t under pressure and showed some good things against a great Florida defense. He found a reliable weapon in tight end Brevin Jordan (5 rec, 88 yds, TD) and Deejay Dallas (12 rush, 95 yds, TD, 4 rec, 37 yds) looks to be a strong option at running back. The Hurricanes offensive line is the biggest reason many are concerned about them, especially after the two freshmen starting at the two tackle spots got lit up against Florida.
Defensively, this is one of the nations best units, despite an up-and-down performance against Florida. The team boasts the ACC’s best linebacking core, led by third-year starters Shaquille Quarterman (4 ttkl, FR) and Michael Pinckney (3 ttkl). The defensive line lost a lot from last year, but still has plenty in place with Jonathan Garvin (4 ttkl) and Scott Patchan (5 ttkl, FR) at the defensive end spots. The middle of the defensive line might be the biggest question mark on the defense, especially after a good showing from the secondary in the opener. Gurvan Hall Jr. and Amari Carter look to be the next great safety duo for the Hurricanes.
The Miami special teams unit appears to be in good shape, led by kicker Bubba Baxa (2-2 XP, 2-3 FG, Long of 42).
Off. PPG: 2019- 24.0 (T-83rd) | 2018- 27.4 (78th)
Off. PYPG: 2019- 245.0 (56th) | 2018- 249.1 (48th)
Off. RYPG: 2019- 238.0 (33rd) | 2018- 193.0 (44th)
Off. TYPG: 2019- 483.0 (41st) | 2018- 442.1 (31st)
Off. 3rd Down %: 2019- 31.3% | 2018- 34.5% (112th)
Def. PPG: 2019- 20.0 (T-54th) | 2018- 34.5 (106th)
Def. PYPG: 2019- 142.0 (30th) | 2018- 228.8 (64th)
Def. RYPG: 2019- 128.0 (T-69th) | 2018- 218.8 (111th)
Def. TYPG: 2019- 270.0 (42nd) | 2018- 447.6 (105th)
Def. 3rd Down %: 2019- 23.1%
Sacks: 2019- 3.0 (T-30th) | 2018- 32.0 (T-41st)
Interceptions: 2019- 2 (T-9th) | 2018- 7 (T-102nd)
Turnover Margin: 2019- +1 | 2018- -6 (112th)
Offensive Efficiency: 2019- 63.9 (45th) | 2018- 44.9 (81st)
Defensive Efficiency: 2019- 84.9 (20th) | 2018- 39.6 (95th)
Special Teams Efficiency: 2019- 23.7 (112th) | 2018- 58.1 (29th)
Overall Team Efficiency: 2019- 73.6 (33rd) | 2018- 42.1 (88th)
Off. PPG: 2019- 20.0 (T-101st) | 2018- 28.8 (66th)
Off. PYPG: 2019- 214.0 (74th) | 2018- 167.3 (113th)
Off. RYPG: 2019- 87.0 (111th) | 2018- 191.5 (45th)
Off. TYPG: 2019- 301.0 (T-101st) | 2018- 358.8 (105th)
Off. 3rd Down %: 2019- 14.3% (T-123rd) | 2018- 40.4 (53rd)
Def. PPG: 2019- 24.0 (T-69th) | 2018- 18.2 (15th)
Def. PYPG: 2019- 254.0 (93rd) | 2018- 140.8 (1st)
Def. RYPG: 2019- 50.0 (T-18th) | 2018- 127.5 (24th)
Def. TYPG: 2019- 304.0 (T-57th) | 2018- 268.3 (2nd)
Sacks: 2019- 1.0 (T-84th) | 2018- 40.0 (11th)
Interceptions: 2019- 2 (T-9th) | 2018- 16 (T-16th)
Turnover Margin: 2019- +3 | 2018-
Offensive Efficiency: 2019- 69.5 (36th) | 2018- 42.3 (83rd)
Defensive Efficiency: 2019- 84.5 (21th) | 2018- 84.2 (4th)
Special Teams Efficiency: 2019- 8.7 (122nd) | 2018- 36.5 (120th)
Overall Team Efficiency: 2019: 73.1 (34th) | 2018- 65.6 (34th)
Three Keys to the Game
Get Pressure on Jarren Williams
This was one of the keys a week ago and it paid off in the second half with two sacks and two interceptions. As you probably know by now, the Hurricanes allowed ten sacks against Florida and the pressure on Williams derailed any momentum the offense had. The Tar Heels defensive line stacks up well against the youth of the Hurricane offensive line and they must take advantage of it.
This is something that you would like to see in every game, but forcing turnovers against the Hurricanes will carry a little more significance with their powerful defense. The Tar Heels defense will have to step up and force some turnovers to help put the Tar Heel offense in good field position. The Heels forced timely turnovers against South Carolina and will have to do the same on Saturday.
Clean Up the Penalties
This was one of the few negatives that could be taken away from the opener, as the Tar Heels piled up ten penalties for 90 yards, including some unnecessary false start penalties and not one, but two hands-to-the-face penalties that continued drives for the Gamecocks. The penalties have to be cleaned up, especially on the offensive side of the football where penalties can derail drives, something the Heels can’t afford Saturday.
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✮ WR Josh Downs- North Gwinnett (Suwanee, GA)
4✮ S Cameron Roseman-Sinclair- Myers Park (Charlotte, NC)
4✮ S Ja’Qurious Conley- Northside-Jacksonville (Jacksonville, NC)
4✮ ILB Ethan West- Cosby (Midlothian, VA)
3✮ WR Ray Rose- South Point (Belmont, NC)
3✮ TE John Copenhaver- Roswell (Roswell, GA)
3✮ CB Lamareon James- Indian River (Chesapeake, VA)
3✮ TE Kendall Karr- Stuart Cramer (Cramerton, NC)
3✮ WR Tylee Craft- Sumter (Sumter, SC)
3✮ RB D.J. Jones- Pine Forest (Fayetteville, NC)
3✮ TE Jefferson Boaz- East Surry (Pilot Mountain, NC)
3✮ ATH Cedric Gray- Ardrey Kell (Charlotte, NC)
3✮ OG Malik McGowan- Charlotte Catholic (Charlotte, NC)
3✮ RB Elijah Burris- Mountain Island Charter (Mount Holly, NC)
3✮ SDE Kaimon Rucker- Hart County (Hartwell, GA)
3✮ CB Jayden Chalmers- Lee County (Sanford, NC)
UR OLB C.J. McCray- Mallard Creek (Charlotte, NC)
UR DT Keydrell Lewis- Mallard Creek (Charlotte, NC)
4✮ RB Evan Pryor- Hough (Cornelius, NC)
4✮ WR Gavin Blackwell- Sun Valley (Monroe, NC)
4✮ WR Micah Crowell- East Forsyth (Kernersville, NC)
4✮ ATH DeAndre Boykins- Central Cabarrus (Concord, NC)
4✮ SDE Jahvaree Ritzie- Glenn (Kernersville, NC)
4✮ ATH Gabe Stephens- Mountain Island Charter (Mount Holly, NC)
4✮ S Dontavius Nash- Hunter Huss (Gastonia, NC)
4✮ WDE Zaire Patterson- Winston-Salem Prep (Winston-Salem, NC)
3✮ ATH Tymir Brown- Jacksonville (Jacksonville, NC)
3✮ ATH Breon Pass- Reidsville (Reidsville, NC)
3✮ ILB Daemon Wilson- Kings Mountain (Kings Mountain, NC)
3✮ OG Michael Gonzalez- Sun Valley (Monroe, NC)
3✮ OT Andrew Canelas- Leesville Road (Raleigh, NC)
3✮ CB Mario Love- Hough (Cornelius, NC)
3✮ OT Colby Smith- Rockingham County (West End, NC)
UR WR Jakolbe Baldwin- Richmond (Rockingham, NC)
UR OT Tanner Bivins- Wesleyan School (Norcross, GA)
UR ATH Omari Philyaw- Mountain Island Charter (Mount Holly, NC)
OUT- Brandon Fritts (knee), Bryson Richardson (knee)
QUEST- Trey Morrison (concussion), Tre Shaw (undisclosed)
OUT- Brian Hightower (knee), Nesta Jade Silvera (foot), Bradley Jennings (hip), Patrick Joyner (leg), Waynmon Steed (knee)
QUEST- Trajan Bandy (illness), Bubba Bolden (eligibility), Robert Burns (knee), Robert Knowles (shoulder), Lorenzo Lingard (knee), Evidence Njoku (knee), Brian Polendey (knee)
Projected Starting Lineups
# 7 Sam Howell, Fr.
#25 Javonte Williams, So. OR
# 8 Michael Carter, Jr.
# 2 Dyami Brown, So.
# 3 Antoine Green, So.
# 5 Dazz Newsome, Jr.
#86 Carl Tucker, Sr.
#67 Charlie Heck, Sr.
#63 Ed Montilus, RFr.
#58 Nick Polino, Sr.
#73 Marcus McKethan, So.
#74 Jordan Tucker, So.
#51 Raymond Vohasek, So. OR
#56 Tomari Fox, Fr.
#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
#42 Tyrone Hopper, Jr.
#10 Greg Ross, Jr.
# 1 Myles Dorn, Sr.
#11 Myles Wolfolk, Jr.
#10 Greg Ross Jr., Jr.
#16 D.J. Ford, Jr. OR
#15 DeAndre Hollins, RFr.
#97 Noah Ruggles, So.
#90 Michael Rubino, Sr.
#91 Ben Kiernan, Fr.
#61 Drew Little, Fr. (K)
#60 Trevor Collins, Jr. (P)
#96 Cooper Graham, So.
# 8 Michael Carter, Jr.
# 5 Dazz Newsome, Jr.
#15 Jarren Williams, RFr.
#13 DeeJay Dallas, Jr.
# 2 K.J. Osborn, Sr.
# 4 Jeff Thomas, Jr.
# 3 Mike Harley, Jr.
# 9 Brevin Jordan, So.
#60 Zion Nelson, Fr.
#55 Navaughn Donaldson, Jr.
#65 Corey Gaynor, So.
#51 D.J. Scaife Jr., So.
#74 John Campbell Jr., RFr.
#97 Jonathan Garvin, Jr.
#93 Pat Bethel, Sr.
#96 Jonathan Ford, Jr.
#71 Scott Patchan, Sr.
#30 Romeo Finely, Sr.
#55 Shaquille Quarterman, Sr.
#56 Michael Pinckney, Sr. OR
#53 Zach McCloud, Sr.
# 8 D.J. Ivey, So.
# 5 Amari Carter, Jr.
#26 Gurvan Hall Jr., So.
# 7 Al Blades Jr., So.
#21 Bubba Baxa, So.
#94 Lou Hedley, So.
#21 Bubba Baxa, So.
#58 Clay James, RFr.
#17 Jack Spicer, Sr.
# 4 Jeff Thomas, Jr.
# 4 Jeff Thomas, Jr.