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Heel Tough Blog: Stock Report- Week 5

Bob Donnan- USA Today Sports

Following one of the most disappointing losses of the Mack Brown era to Notre Dame last weekend, the Tar Heels put together one of the most dominant performances since his return to Chapel Hill in a 41-10 victory over Virginia Tech on Saturday. As the team gets set for next weekend’s crucial divisional battle with Miami, here is a look at whose stock is up and whose is down.

Drake Maye

Maye is off to a historic start to the season after yet another amazing performance. He completed 26 of his 36 passes for 363 yards, a new career high, and three touchdowns. He added 73 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, finishing with five total touchdowns for the fourth time this season. His 22 total touchdowns through the first five games of the season are the second-most in the history of the ACC in the first five games, trailing only Lamar Jackson’s 26 from his Heisman season in 2016. Enjoy it while you can, folks, because this young man is special.

Bryson Nesbit

Nesbit struggled a week ago, but bounced back with a career performance on Saturday. He caught all four of his targets for 98 yards and a touchdown with all four of his catches going for 18+ yards. His impact certainly made a huge difference for the offense’s ability to move the football consistently on Saturday, but he wasn’t the only tight end that made an impact on Saturday.

Tight Ends

Nesbit led the charge, but the team’s three tight ends all made a major impact on Saturday. Kamari Morales caught three of his four targets for 29 yards and a touchdown, while John Copenhaver, who was shutout last week, caught both of his targets for 35 yards. The success of this tight end group this season has been a huge plus for Maye and this offense that struggled to find weapons outside of Downs a year ago.

Josh Downs

Speaking of Downs, he put together another big performance against the Hokies. He led the Tar Heels in receiving once again, catching all eight of his targets for 120 yards, including four catches for 15+ yards. Downs has picked up right where he left off prior to the injury and is showing why he is such a special receiver by makes big play after big play.

Cedric Gray

Gray has had some good performances this season, but this may have been his most complete game of the year. He finished with a team-high eight total tackles and was a big part of the reason why the defense held the Hokies to just 99 yards on the ground. He had a strong day in coverage, as well, allowing just three catches for 15 yards on six targets and hauling in his second interception of the season in 25 coverage snaps. Let’s hope this performance can jumpstart him to more consistency the rest of the season because when he is playing at his best, the rest of the defense seems to follow.

Tony Grimes

Grimes put together the best performance of any Tar Heel defensive back so far this season against the Hokies. He allowed just two of his six targets to be caught for 17 yards and registered a pass breakup while allowing just a 42.3 passer rating when thrown at in 33 coverage snaps. This is what we were hoping to see more of this season from Grimes, who many thought would rebound from last year. This performance showed that he is capable of being the lockdown corner that this team sorely needs, but he has to be able to build off of this starting in Miami Gardens on Saturday.

Kaimon Rucker

It’s only fitting that “The Butcher” started the month of October with a bang. He may not have finished the game with a tackle, but he provided the most consistent pressure of the afternoon, finishing with a team-high four quarterback pressures. The Tar Heels are looking for anyone to help provide more consistent pressure on the quarterback and Rucker did that on Saturday. Now it’s about making this more consistent and finishing some of those pressures with sacks.

Malaki Hamrick

The defense started rotating some new faces and the guy that shined the most was Hamrick. The true freshman linebacker racked up five total tackles, three of which were solos, and one quarterback pressure. Hamrick did a good job tackling in space in both the run game and the pass game, an impressive feat with him taking the majority of his snaps out of that JACK spot. With the way that he performed on Saturday, he deserves to have at least a rotational role moving forward, especially with the depth issues at linebacker that the team is currently experiencing.

Jacolbe Cowan

Cowan was another guy who took advantage of the extra rotational reps, playing 30 snaps on Saturday for the team along the defensive front. He finished with two total tackles, including one of the team’s two sacks. It was far from a perfect outing for him, but this team needs some life up front and Cowan gave them a little on Saturday.

Will Hardy

Hardy has been playing more and more snaps as the weeks have gone by and the growth is really starting to show. He finished with five total tackles and had a really solid day in coverage, allowing just two catches for 16 yards in 17 coverage snaps. Hardy has shown improvement week over week since the start of the season and he deserves to earn more reps moving forward.

Deuce Caldwell

Caldwell didn’t see snaps until garbage time, but made a huge impact in those limited reps. He played just eleven snaps, but racked up four total tackles, including one sack and did not allow a single catch in his six coverage snaps. Tar Heel fans are wanting to see more of him, especially with the injuries to RaRa Dillworth and Sebastian Cheeks. While that may be asking a lot for him, it’s hard not to be at least a little excited by what he was able to do on Saturday.

Ed Montilus

Montilus had his third consecutive rough game on Saturday in both aspects of the game. He graded out as the worst of the offensive linemen for the third straight week with his 47.3 run blocking grade was his worst of the season and he continues to struggle in pass protection, having allowed a team-high 14 pressures so far this season. He has also been penalized five times in the first five games of the season, the only Tar Heel offensive lineman to be flagged more than twice so far. With Spencer Rolland having avoided anything serious with his early season nick, it may not be a bad idea to start rotating Jonathan Adorno, who started when Rolland was out, or Brian Anderson into the game when Montilus is having his issues.


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