For the second straight week, the Tar Heels had a chance to complete a double-digit comeback, but came up just short when Noah Ruggles’ 56-yard game-tying field goal attempt was blocked. The Tar Heels would fall to 2-2 with the loss to the Appalachian State Mountaineers ahead of a Week 5 matchup against the defending national champions, the Clemson Tigers. Let’s see who and what are trending up and down heading into Saturday’s matchup in Kenan.
⇧ Javonte Williams
Following a rough outing in Winston-Salem, Williams returned to form on Saturday night. Williams carried the ball 16 times for 94 yards and a touchdown, despite the fact that Michael Carter got the start. Williams averaged 5.9 yards per carry on Saturday and continues to be the Tar Heels most consistent ball carrier to this point in the season. Through four games, Williams leads the Tar Heels with 299 yards and a touchdown on 53 carries.
⇧ Beau Corrales
After hauling in just four passes in the first three games of the season, Corrales had a big day on Saturday. Corrales hauled in six of his nine targets for 84 yards, including a couple of key third down receptions to keep drives moving. While he is still looking for consistent targets, Corrales continues to show he has some of the most reliable hands on the team.
⇧ Dazz Newsome
Corrales wasn’t the only receiver that had a good day on Saturday. Newsome led the Tar Heels in receiving, catching six passes for 88 yards and a touchdown. Newsome continues to be a consistent threat over the middle for the Tar Heels and has continued to develop into a more complete receiver than he was a year ago.
⇧ Carl Tucker
Heading into the game on Saturday, there was plenty of uncertainty as to whether or not Tucker would even play. Even when he was declared active, many still had to wonder how big of an impact he would have after catching just one pass in the first two games of the season. Tucker had a strong performance, though, catching three passes for 34 yards and an impressive one-handed touchdown grab that pulled the Tar Heels within a field goal. The Tar Heels would love for Tucker to develop into a weapon for quarterback Sam Howell, especially with the amount of success Howell had throwing to his tight ends at the high school level.
⇩ D.J. Ford
Ford got off to a great start to his junior season in the opener, but has really began to struggle since. Saturday was another tough outing, as there were a handful of times where he simply lost his receiver in coverage. Ford has also struggled tackling in the open field since that South Carolina game, something that has to be corrected quickly with him likely having to play more snaps at strong safety after the injury to Myles Wolfolk in the second half on Saturday.
⇩ Michael Carter
Carter followed up his best performance of the season against Wake Forest with the worst performance on Saturday. Carter started the game for the Tar Heels, but carried the ball just eight times for a total of 17 yards. The offensive line’s struggles definitely played a factor, but you can’t blame the staff for sticking with hot hand in Javonte Williams on Saturday.
⇩ Chazz Surratt
It has been a fantastic start for Surratt at linebacker after his move from quarterback in the spring. Surratt had a quiet afternoon on Saturday, finishing with just two tackles, even with starting inside linebacker Jeremiah Gemmel getting ejected late in the first half. Surratt had 25 total tackles in his first three games, so one would expect him to bounce back this week against Clemson.
For the third straight week, we find this on the trending down portion of the stock report and rightfully so. Although Jason Strowbridge and Carl Tucker returned to the lineup on Saturday, starting left tackle Charlie Heck missed the game with an upper body injury, leaving the Tar Heels offensive line with just one starter on the unit that had started a game prior to this season. That player, right tackle Jordan Tucker, is dealing with a knee injury that had him listed as questionable heading into the game. At wide receiver, Antoine Green missed his second straight game with a lower body injury and has no timetable for his return, while backup quarterback Jace Ruder will be questionable after suffering a right leg injury on his only snap on Saturday. Defensively, all three of the team‘s season-ending injuries are on that side of the football and the secondary is beginning tp thin out. Starting safety Myles Wolfolk is listed as questionable for Saturday’s game after missing most of the second half with a lower body injury, while depth corner Tre Shaw has missed three straight games with an undisclosed injury. This Tar Heel team is beat up, especially along the offensive line and in the secondary, but, unfortunately, it won’t get any easier playing one of, if not the most, physical team in the country.