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Heel Tough Blog: Tar Heels Lose Starting Defensive Tackle for the Season; Two Others Day-to-Day

Reinhold Matay- USA Today Sports

It was a day later than usual, but on Tuesday morning Mack Brown met with the media to recap the Tar Heels' thrilling rivalry victory over the Duke Blue Devils in Durham over the weekend. As has been routine so far this season, Mack Brown announced the latest injury notes early presser and, in the process, revealed that one of the team’s starting defensive linemen is out for the season.

Graduate senior defensive tackle Raymond Vohasek was declared to be done for the year with an upper-body injury. This news comes after he has missed each of the last two games after he piled up 14 total tackles, 1.0 tackle for loss and two pass deflections prior to the injury. Vohasek played in each of the first five games of the season, meaning he will not be eligible for a redshirt and his Tar Heel football career has come to a conclusion. He finishes his career with 96 total tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks and eight pass deflections in his four seasons with the team following his transfer from the JUCO level.

With him officially out of the lineup moving forward, junior Kevin Hester Jr. will now be the full-time starter, at least for the time being. So far this season, Hester Jr. has racked up 24 total tackles, the second-most amongst the team’s pure defensive linemen, and two quarterback pressures. He is currently the highest-graded interior defensive lineman on the Tar Heel roster this season and is the second-highest rated run defender of anyone on the defensive front according to Pro Football Focus. Jahvaree Ritzie will also see a more expansive role as he did on Saturday night, although, he has to be able to provide more push in the run game than he has so far this year. Keeshawn Silver, who looked good against both Virginia Tech and Miami but did not play on Saturday, may also have a shot to earn more reps, as will true freshman Travis Shaw.

Brown did provide updates on two more players who did not play on Saturday night. Starting right guard William Barnes and rotational running back D.J. Jones are considered day-to-day at this time. Jonathan Adorno looked solid the other night with Barnes out of the lineup, but the line let up the most pressure that it has all season on Saturday. At running back, Elijah Green emerged as an option in this game, while Caleb Hood continues to solidify himself as the team's No. 1 back. Jones’ pass protection is something that this team really missed, though.


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