Leading into the matchup with Miami, Mack Brown said the team had it’s best week of practice and preparation of the season. Their play on the field reflected that as they beat the #10 Hurricanes 62-26, in a game that wasn’t even that close. Before Miami could blink they were down 31-3, and they were never able to stop the bleeding. Carolina amassed 778 yards of total offense, 554 which came on the ground. I’ve said all season long that this is a run first football team, and after Saturday’s performance it’s hard to disagree with that statement. Michael Carter accounted for 308 yards on the ground, while Javonte Williams tied the school record for rushing touchdowns in a season, with 2 scores, and 236 rushing yards of his own. The running game meant Sam Howell was able to have an efficient day through the air, going 14-19, 223 yards, with one touchdown pass. Defensively, Carolina knew they were going to have its hands full with D’Eriq King, and they responded with their best half of defense this season, maybe under Jay Bateman. King never got into a rhythm, and the Tar Heels allowed just 75 rushing yards as they were the more physical team on Saturday. That level of physicality was all started, at the line of scrimmage.
In all three of their losses this season, Carolina got beat at the line of scrimmage. Miami posed a challenge that Carolina was more than ready for. They opened running lanes for days, and protected Sam Howell as well as they have on the road this season. Carter and Williams combined for the most rushing yards by a duo in college football history. With their efforts on Saturday, both running backs totaled over 1,000 yards on the ground this season. Joshua Ezeudu was named the ACC Offensive Lineman of the week, joining Sam Howell, Michael Carter and Dyami Brown as other Tar Heels to win honors this week. Carolina knew how important this game was for this season, and the future. The line played the best it’s had this season, and has positioned Carolina to make its first ever New Year’s Six bowl game.
As impressive as the offensive line was, Carolina’s defense was the story in the first half. The offense set the tone, but Carolina’s defense is why this game was over at halftime. They were more physical at the line of scrimmage, they got off blocks, and allowed Chazz Surrat and Jeremiah Gemmel to find the football. The status of Jay Bateman’s tenure in Chapel Hill is in question, but rest assured that if he’s back next season, they’ll use this performance to build off. The Tar Heels registered 3 sacks, and 7 tackles for loss. While they aren’t mind blowing numbers, they played with the discipline necessary in this scheme. Nobody on the defensive line had eye popping stats, but they took care of business and allowed the players to make plays.