Heel Tough Blog: Stock Report- Week 10


Bob Donnan- USA Today Sports

Saturday was the first time since 2004 that the Tar Heels took down a top ten opponent at home in Chapel Hill when they defeated the No. 9 Wake Forest Demon Deacons in thrilling fashion. Midway through the third quarter it looked like the Tar Heels were on the way to their fifth loss of the season with them trailing by 18, but instead they found a way to roar back and hand the Deacons their first loss of the season, 58-55. The Tar Heels have now begun preparations for a Thursday night trip to Pittsburgh to face the Coastal leading Pitt Panthers.


Ty Chandler

Chandler was simply outstanding on Saturday, carrying the ball 22 times for 213 yards and four touchdowns and catching one pass for 30 yards in his most productive game of the season. He averaged 9.7 yards per carry in this one and ripped nine runs of ten yards or more, three of which resulted in touchdowns. He really stepped it up when it mattered in this one, running for 117 yards and three touchdowns in the fourth quarter alone. The Tar Heels were looking for playmakers to emerge in this offense heading into the bye week and Chandler has certainly done that these last two weeks.


Sam Howell

Howell got one of the biggest wins of his career on Saturday afternoon and did so with another strong performance. He finished the day 16 of 26 for 216 yards through the air, ran for 104 yards on 18 carries and found the endzone three more times, becoming the third quarterback in ACC history to throw for 200 yards and run for 100 yards in at least four games in the same season. With his 320 total yards in this game, Howell also became the all time total offense leader in program history, surpassing the mark of 10,423 yards previously held by Marquise Williams.


Antoine Green

Another player that has really stepped his game up since the bye week is Green, who put together another nice game on Saturday. In a day where Josh Downs was held to his lowest production of the season in just about every major receiving category, Green led the Tar Heels with six catches for 83 yards and a touchdown on ten targets. His recent breakout has been an extremely crucial reason for the success that the unit has the last two weeks.


Offensive Line

We have been begging for this offensive line to step up and while they showed some positive signs against the Fighting Irish, the unit really stepped up on Saturday. The unit had a tremendous day in the running game, paving the way for 330 yards and 6.3 yards per carry and wore down the Deacons, leading to a huge fourth quarter on the ground where the Tar Heels ran for 125 yards and three touchdowns. The unit is still far from flawless, as they allowed three more sacks and nine more tackles for loss but if they can run block like they did on Saturday, there is hope that this offense can continue to produce at a high level.


Storm Duck

Duck returned to the lineup on Saturday after missing seventeen of the previous eighteen games for the Tar Heels due to injury and played a huge role in the victory. He had a very solid day in coverage on the outside and stepped up to make one of the biggest plays of the day when he defended the 4th & 10 pass on the second to last Wake Forest drive of the game. Duck proved just how valuable he was on Saturday for this defense and if he can stay healthy, he gives the Tar Heels a corner tandem that they can be confident in after not having that for the majority of the season.


Power Echols

Echols was thrust into the fire in this game on Saturday following the conclusion of the first quarter after Jeremiah Gemmel was ejected and more than held his own. Despite only playing three quarters in this one, he still finished second on the team in tackles with seven and showed a ton of promise regarding his future in Chapel Hill while doing so. It will be interesting to see if the staff will try to find an increased role for him down the stretch of the season after such an auspicious showing against the Deacons.


Grayson Atkins

Atkins has had his moments of inconsistencies for the Tar Heels since arriving to Chapel Hill prior to last season, but he was a big part of the reason why they were about to pull the upset. He hit three very important field goals, all from 35 yards or closer but while also having to deal with gusty winds throughout the afternoon. He also put through all seven of his extra points, including a 32-yarder after an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Jordan Tucker on the drive that cut the lead to seven.


Defensive Front

One of the biggest reasons for the Tar Heels struggles on Saturday defensively was the inability to win up front once again. They once again got some solid push up front, but struggled to shed blockers once again, allowing for Sam Hartman and the delayed reads to wreak havoc on this Tar Heel defense. The team finished with just two tackles for loss, both of which were sacks, and weren’t able to get consistent pressure until late in the game. In order for this defense to have any shot at sustained resistance, they need to start winning these battles up front and right now there are no signs of that happening.


Safeties

This is another who stepped up when they needed to, led by Cam’Ron Kelly who had two more interceptions in this one, but this unit remains way to hit and miss at this point in the season. Miscommunication was once again a major issue for this group, similar to a year ago against the Deacons and it led to some big plays including two wide open touchdowns. All offseason, the talk with the safeties was about finding consistent options back there. It appears right now that they haven’t been able to find those solutions.

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