We’re already in Week 4 of the college football season, but the Tar Heels just finished their second game of the season on Saturday, taking down the Boston College Eagles 26-22 in a nail biter. As we head towards this weekend’s top 25 meeting with Virginia Tech, we take a look at whose stock is up and whose is down.
Howell is trending down here in terms of his Heisman Trophy chances, something that we’ll be monitoring over the course of the season. While he hasn’t played bad, his performance on Saturday was rather dull, throwing for 225 yards, two touchdowns and an interception on 14 of 26 passing. He took four sacks, three of which were in part because he held the ball too long. He hasn’t been bad, but he will need to be better against Virginia Tech if the Tar Heels want to win.
After an up-and-down start to the season in the game against Syracuse, Morrison started his first game at safety on Saturday. Not only did he make the biggest play of the game with the interception return for two points on the Boston College two-point conversion that could have tied the game, he also had six total tackles and a pass breakup in the victory. The staff seems to have made the perfect move by replacing the departed Myles Wolfolk with Morrison and any concern that came with the move has quickly evaporated.
Carter may have been the Tar Heels best offensive player on Saturday. For the second straight game, Carter led the team in rushing, finishing with 121 yards on 16 carries and ripping off three runs of 20 or more yards in the process. So far, out of the gate, Carter looks as good as he has looked in time at Carolina and is well on his way to back-to-back 1,000 yard rushing seasons.
For the second straight game, the Tar Heels offensive line had their struggles, primarily with discipline in this one. Of the Tar Heels six offensive penalties, five of them were on offensive linemen, including two on back-to-back plays that stymied the Tar Heels final offensive drive and forced a long field goal attempt that was missed. Ed Montilus continued his struggles in pass protection and Boston College was able to control the line of scrimmage for most of the second half, especially in the third quarter. The Tar Heels are in desperate need of Joshua Ezeudu’s return to action, especially if the injury to Jordan Tucker is severe in any way.
Vohasek has been a monster in the middle of the defense and on Saturday, he was everywhere in the backfield. He finished the day with three total tackles, 0.5 tackles and one quarterback hurry, but was able to wreak plenty of havoc throughout the day. Any concern that was there in the offseason about how the Tar Heels would replace Aaron Crawford at nose tackle is now completely gone thanks to Vohasek.
The biggest ask of Fox before the season was to become more consistent and he followed a strong season opener with a nice performance on Saturday. Fox had six total tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and a strip sack that the Tar Heels weren’t able to jump on. It’s only a small sample size, but the senior pass rusher might be developing that consistency.
For the second straight week, Newsome was quiet, as he was targeted only two times. Those two targets resulted in just one reception for six yards, as the Tar Heels leading receiver from a year ago struggled to make an impact once again. Last year’s matchup with Virginia Tech was the game that really jump started Newsome’s strong finish and the Tar Heels are hoping it will have the same effect this season.
Carter wasn’t the only Tar Heel running back to have a big day on Saturday. For the second straight week, Williams found the endzone multiple times, once on the ground and one on the offensive play of the day where he took a Sam Howell pass 41 yards to the house. The Tar Heel backfield is off to a fantastic start and there is a solid chance that both could be on the path to another 1,000 yards of total offense.
Atkins hasn’t been bad, but he missed another field goal on Saturday. The 47-yarder that he missed could have given the Tar Heels a two possession lead late in the fourth. The former FCS All-American has missed both of his field goal attempts from beyond 45 yards, an area he was extremely effective from in his time at Furman. There isn’t of concern just yet, but it’s starting to look like the Tar Heels field goal range might be similar to what it was last year.
Dyami Brown has been the Brown brother getting the most recognition from a lot of national media members, but Khafre might be hearing his name called a lot in the next few years. Brown had another nice performance on Saturday, catching two of his three targets for 35 yards and a touchdown on the opening drive of the game. While we at the Heel Tough Blog were looking at Antoine Green and Emery Simmons as the potential breakout players at wide receiver, Brown has slipped in under the radar and is taking hold of that montra early on.