Heel Tough Blog: Trench Report - Western Carolina
It was Senior Day in Kenan Stadium for Carolina, and they were able to send out the senior class with a 49-9 win over in-state foe Western Carolina. Michael Carter made the most of his final appearance in Kenan, rushing for three first quarter touchdowns, as the Tar Heels set the tone early in this game. He also moved to #6 on the all time rushing list in program history, as his career really took off upon the return of Mack Brown. Sam Howell had an efficient day throwing the football, completing 20 of 23 passes for 287 yards, and two scores. After being completely out of rhythm against Notre Dame a week ago, Phil Longo’s unit returned to form, scoring 42 first half points, and amassed 540 total yards on offense. Defensively, Carolina shrugged off a slow start in the run game, to limit the Catamounts to only a field goal, as the touchdown scored was on a fumble recovery. Today’s game was about sending out the seniors with a win, leaving the game healthy, and building some momentum before heading to Miami next week. Carolina was able to do that, and get their young players on the field, that will play a big roles starting next season:
It has been an up down season for this group, and after being physically beaten by the Fighting Irish, you wanted to see how this group responded. As they have all season long, they responded in a positive manner, establishing control at the line of scrimmage early, against an inferior opponent. The Tar Heels rushed for 238 yards, on 38 rushes, for an average of 6.1 yards per attempt. Michael Carter led the team with 73 yards on 8 carries, but the young guys had holes to run through as well. Sam Howell had all day to make plays in the passing game, which is what today was about. The offense was able to get back to its roots in time for Miami. Carolina has had their fair share of issues protecting Howell on the road, and next week won’t be easy.
I mentioned that Carolina was able to get their younger players on the field, and that was very important for the defense. Starting with the comeback against Wake Forest, Jay Bateman started giving his younger players more time on the field, with positive results. That continued yesterday. While Ray Vohasek had a monster game, registering 4 tackles from his nose guard position, he wasn’t the only player that impressed. Kaimon Rucker led the Tar Heels with 7 total tackles, including 2 behind the line of scrimmage. Desmond Evans got on the field and registered 3 tackles. The Fox brothers impacted the game while on the field. Despite it being against an FCS opponent, this defense took a step in the right direction. They are going to need one of their best performances next week at Miami.