It was a wild Saturday in the high country of the Tar Heel State, as UNC visited App State for the first time in program history, and escaped with a wild 63-61 win, that saw 42 combined points scored in the fourth quarter. Drake Maye continued the stellar start to his Tar Heel career, accounting for 5 total touchdowns, and over 400 yards of total offense. Defensively, Carolina got shredded through the air for 376 yards, and on the ground for 288 yards, as Gene Chizik’s defense still has a lot of work to do. In the end, though, Carolina made enough plays to secure their first road win since winning at Miami to end the 2020 season. It’s also the third time in four seasons under Mack Brown the Tar Heels have started 2-0. Now let’s take a look at how both trench units performed on Saturday:
Carolina’s offense hasn’t missed much of a beat as they are breaking in a new quarterback, multiple new running backs, and young receivers being asked to step into much more prominent roles. The Tar Heels offense amassed 567 yards on offense, and 215 of those came on the ground. Carolina ran the ball 35 times to achieve those 215 yards, which averages out to 6.1 yards per rushing attempt. That’s a really solid number against an App State defense, that has to replace some key players from a season ago, and has a history of being stingy against the run. They also gave Drake Maye time to shred the App State defense, for 352 yards, despite giving up three first-half sacks. After that, Jack Bicknell’s unit made adjustments and kept their QB clean in the second half. Penalties were an issue though, as they were called for four false starts and one holding penalty. Overall though, you have to like where this unit is at, as they have made life easy on a redshirt freshman quarterback, and open up running lanes for whoever is in the backfield.
Corey Gaynor - Offensive Grade (57.3) Run Block Rate (56.9) Pass Block Rate (73.2) Pressures Allowed (0) Penalties (1)
Asim Richards - Offensive Grade (59) Run Block Rate (58.3) Pass Block Rate (86.8) Pressures Allowed (0) Penalties (2)
Ed Montilus - Offensive Grade (60.3) Run Block Rate (68.4) Pass Block Rate (63.1) Pressures Allowed (2 Hurries and 2 QB Hits)
William Barnes - Offensive Grade (55.7) Run Block Rate (52.6) Pass Block Rate (60.2) Pressures Allowed (0)
Spencer Rolland - Offensive Grade (58.5) Run Block Rate (59.4) Pass Block Rate (52.4) Pressures Allowed ( 2 Sacks, 2 QB Hits, 2 QB Hurries, and 6 QB Pressures)
As happy as Mack Brown should be with the overall play of the offensive line, the same can’t be said for the defensive line. After the FAMU game, the belief was that Carolina didn’t scheme for a normal opponent and that we were going to see more of what Gene Chizik wants to do defensively in this game. After Saturday, let’s hope that’s not the case. Carolina got gashed in the run game, allowing 6.7 yards per carry, and 288 rushing yards. They also failed to get any pass rush on Chase Brice, as Kaimon Rucker and Jahvaree Ritzie, combined for the only sack of the game. The staff awarded Des Evans the defensive player of the game award after he registered 6 total tackles on Saturday. It was the best game we’ve seen from Evans in terms of setting the edge, but he struggled to consistently get off blocks, and make plays in the backfield. Ray Vohasek had 5 tackles in the game, but Carolina needs more from him as well, as a lot of the potential success of the defense depends on him getting an interior pass rush. Myles Murphy, Kevin Hester Jr, and the aforementioned Rucker and Ritzie all made much-needed contributions on Saturday, but it’s up to Chizik and defensive line coach Tim Cross to find ways to get them more involved in the game plan. There’s no denying that Carolina is talented up front, and as deep as they’ve been since Mack Brown returned to Chapel Hill, but there’s also no denying that this unit has a lot of work to do.
Ray Vohasek - Defensive Grade (75.2) Run Defense (71.2) Pass Rush (71.9) Tackling (74.8) Pressures Forced ( 3 Total, 1 QB Hit, and 2 QB Hurries)
Kaimon Rucker - Defensive Grade (72.4) Run Defense (70.9) Pass Rush (62.3) Tackling (73.9) Coverage (60.0) Pressures Forced (3 Total, 1 Sack, and 2 QB Hurries)
Kevin Hester Jr - Defensive Grade (63.1) Run Defense (65.5) Pass Rush 56.8) Tackling (73.8)
Noah Taylor - Defensive Grade (62.5) Run Defense (45.2) Pass Rush (56.2) Tackling (78.4) Coverage (87.1)
Jahvaree Ritzie - Defensive Grade (54.2) Run Defense (48.5) Pass Rush (62.3) Tackling (72.2) Pressures Forced (3 Total, 1 Sack, and 2 QB Hurries)
Des Evans - Defensive Grade (52.7) Run Defense (58.5) Pass Rush (55.7) Tackling (58.5)
Chris Collins - Defensive Grade (49.5) Run Defense (52.9) Pass Rush (59.6) Tackling (38.5) Pressures Forced (1 Total, 1 QB Hit)
Myles Murphy - Defensive Grade (30.3) Run Defense (27.7) Pass Rush (64.3) Tackling (44.2) Coverage (60.0)
Carolina will now turn their attention to Saturday's road contest at Georgia State, the second straight week the Tar Heels will be on the road against a Sun Belt school.