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Heel Tough Blog: Week 0 Trench Report - FAMU

The 2022 Tar Heel football season got off in the right way as UNC dispatched FCS opponent, Florida A&M, 56-24 Saturday night in Kenan Stadium, behind a historic performance from redshirt-freshman quarterback, Drake Maye. This game basically served as a means to find answers before this weekend's game at App State, and Carolina achieved that in some areas on both sides of the ball, meaning they should enter their first road game with some confidence. Ultimately the biggest questions on offense and defense entering the season surrounded the offensive and defensive lines, and Saturday provided some answers for one group, and lingering questions for another.

Offensive Line:

It may have been against an FCS opponent, but UNC didn’t allow a sack on Saturday night. Let me repeat that again. UNC didn’t allow a sack on Saturday night, as Jack Bicknell’s group kept Drake Maye clean all night long, and by the second half, had worn down the undermanned Rattlers, opening running lanes for the stable of running backs at Carolina’s disposal. This performance was refreshing to see given the experience that exists in that position group, and we finally saw what we've been hoping to see from them all along. Corey Gaynor displayed a level of emotion and leadership this group has been missing, as the transfer from Miami is making an immediate impact. The task will get much tougher this weekend at App State, and they’ll need their communication to be at a high level.

Defensive Line:

As encouraged as we are about the offensive line after Saturday, it’s fair to be equally discouraged about the defensive line as they struggled to generate much of a pass rush in the game. The Tar Heels did register three sacks, one each by Power Echols, Noah Taylor, and Kaimon Rucker. No Des Evans or Ray Vohasek are the reasons for dissatisfaction, as Carolina needs both to be big-time pass rushers this season. UNC did though hold FAMU to just 56 rushing yards on 27 rushing attempts, which figures out to 2.1 yards per carry. Kevin Hester Jr led the defensive line with 3 total tackles, and in the process earned more trust in new defensive coordinator Gene Chizik. The lack of pass rush also had to do with FAMU’s tempo, which was effective throughout the entire first half, keeping not only the defensive line but the entire defense on its toes into the second half. Maybe the lack of a consistent pass rush had something to do with the coaching staff not wanting to put a lot on tape before this weekend, nonetheless, Carolina will need a better effort from the defensive line, against a team that won’t be afraid to attack them from the start.

UNC will now turn their attention to Saturday’s road game at App State, the first time ever UNC will travel to Boone.


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