The Tar Heels survived the rival Duke Blue Devils this past Saturday night thanks to a clutch game-winning drive late in the 4th quarter from their offense. This win propelled the Tar Heels to a 6-1 record overall and a 3-0 record in conference heading into their second bye of the season. Here is a look at who is trending up and trending down after the Duke game as we sit in the bye.
Maye continues to be one of the best quarterbacks in the country so far this season and is coming off of arguably his most impressive performance of the season. He threw for a career-high 380 yards and three touchdowns, while also running for a team-high 70 yards on 18 carries. Even more impressive is that he did this while facing the most pressure that he has all season long (25 times, including three sacks). The final drive checked off yet another box when it comes to just how special of a season this has been for Maye, as he led the team 74 yards down the field on nine plays in 1:53. Every time that you think it can’t get better with Maye, it does. As we’ve told you multiple times this season, this guy is special.
Green made one of the biggest plays of the game by somehow keeping himself inbounds on the game winning touchdown, but it wasn’t just that play that has him on here. He caught four of his six targets for 112 yards and that touchdown as he continued to show why he is one of the best deep threats in all of college football right now. Green has been a huge piece for this team since he returned against Notre Dame and his big play ability has been a welcome addition to this offense.
Downs was outstanding all around in Durham and made another one of the biggest plays of the night on the final drive. He led the team in targets (11), receptions (9) and receiving yards (126), but most importantly he ran a beautiful route on 4th & 5 to create enough separation to keep the drive alive. Downs also had two more contested catches down the field earlier in the game that showcase just how versatile of a player he is and how vital he is to the offense’s overall success.
Green played his first snaps since the season opening win over Florida A&M against Duke and made a major impact. He may have only carried the ball three times in his 18 snaps, but he turned those carries into 24 yards and two touchdowns, including a 20-yard scamper in the third quarter where he bounced off multiple defenders into the endzone. Mack Brown said in his press conference earlier this week that he will “have to remain in the mix” if he looks like he did in Durham moving forward. It’s hard not to agree right now.
Hood has clearly solidified his position as the team’s No. 1 back as long as he can stay healthy. He was once again a contributor both running and catching the ball last Saturday, leading the team’s running backs with 48 yards on ten carries and catching five passes out of the backfield for 32 yards and touchdowns. Hood has totaled 204 yards of total offense in the last two games, including 82 yards receiving, an element that this team had lacked out of the backfield so far this season before that.
Morales only caught one pass in this game, but it was a big one. His ten yard touchdown grab in the first quarter against the Blue Devils gave him his fourth touchdown of the season and his tenth touchdown catch of his career. With that, he becomes the only Tar Heel tight end to reach double-digit touchdowns in their career, an impressive feat because of just how many well thought of tight ends have come through the program.
The Tar Heel defensive line entered the game against the Blue Devils off of one of their best performances of the season. Last Saturday, though, they had absolutely nothing for the Duke offensive line which simply out physicaled them the entire night. The Blue Devils ran for 297 yards without one of their top rushing options and provided very little pressure on the quarterback throughout the night. Outside of Noah Taylor, who has been the lone positive up there for most of the season, the unit failed to register a tackle for loss or a sack and totaled just five quarterback pressures. With Raymond Vohasek out for the season, the unit will not be gaining any reinforcements to help them down the stretch of the season, meaning this unit simply has to be better moving forward if they want to get back to being just that average defense that we have been asking them to be.
Murphy was one of the guys that many people locally and nationally thought would break out this season and it simply has not happened. Saturday was yet another example of that, as he registered more missed tackles than total tackles in the game. He had just one total tackle and a pass breakup against the Blue Devils, while also missing two tackles and failing to register a single pressure. This is one guy that the Tar Heels need to see step up for them down the stretch, especially with Vohasek now shelved for the season.
The Tar Heels as a whole had a brutal night tackling, missing 17 tackles according to PFF, the most by a Tar Heel defense in over two full years. One of the worst culprits of them this season has been Kelly and this game was no different. He tied for a team-high three missed tackles, whiffing on 30% of his tackle opportunities. Him and fellow safety Giovanni Biggers have been the guys that have struggled the most with it this season due to poor angles and an inability to finish when they have players wrapped up.
The Tar Heel offensive line has had a solid season so far this season, but Saturday was a rough one for them to say the least. The group allowed a season-high 25 quarterback pressures on Drake Maye, including three more sacks after he was sacked five times against Miami. The unit was without starting guard William Barnes in this one, but it’s no secret that this unit has really struggled the last two weeks. Hopefully the return of Barnes can help the team regain the footing for the majority of the first half of the season.