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Heel Tough Blog: Week 11 Trench Report - Wake Forest

Yahoo! Sports

The Tar Heels magical season continued over the weekend, as they escaped Wake Forest with a 36-34 win, improving to 9-1 on the 2022 season, and in the process, clinching the ACC Coastal, and a spot in the ACC Championship game. Drake Maye was once again sensational, totaling over 500 yards of total offense, along with 4 total touchdowns, as the first-year signal caller, squarely put himself in the Heisman conversation over the weekend. Carolina’s defense stood tall in the fourth quarter, as they shut out Sam Hartman and the Wake Forest offense, allowing Drake to lead the team from behind, something he’s had to do in seemingly every game this season. When Mack Brown returned to Chapel Hill, he sold his players and the fan base on a vision of competing for ACC championships, something his final teams did back in the 1990s. Well after four years, that vision has finally come to fruition, and the most impressive thing about it is that Carolina was able to do it while overcoming inconsistent play in the trenches:

Offensive Line:

A theme all too familiar this season happened again on Saturday, as Maye led the team in rushing with 71 yards on 19 carries. Elijah Green was once again the only running back to register a carry in the game, as he ran for 66 yards on 18 attempts. Overall, Carolina did rush for 136 yards, on 38 attempts, which averages out to only 3.6 yards per carry. Additionally, Wake Forest was able to sack Maye 3 times on the night, and it’s not like the Demon Deacons are known for their defensive line prowess. When you look at the struggles this team has had running the football, it is rather impressive that they are 9-1 on the season, and will play for a conference championship. On a positive note, the offensive line was only flagged once, showing the level of discipline necessary to win road games in the ACC.

Player Grades:

  • Asim Richards: Offensive Grade (64.6) Run Blocking (53.5) Pass Blocking (76.4)

  • Ed Montilus: Offensive Grade (55.8) Run Blocking (49.7) Pass Blocking (65.2)

  • Spencer Rolland: Offensive Grade (54.6) Run Blocking (48.7) Pass Blocking (60.2)

  • Corey Gaynor: Offensive Grade (52.0) Run Blocking (47.9) Pass Blocking (59.6)

  • William Barnes: Offensive Grade (47.7) Run Blocking (55.1) Pass Blocking (17.9)

Defensive Line:

At this point, it is unfair to expect the level of play to improve upfront, as the injuries to Noah Taylor and Des Evans made an already thin group up front, even thinner, and guys just aren’t ready to be consistent playmakers yet. With that said, you have to give credit to Gene Chizik, and his players as they have a knack for making timely plays in the fourth quarter. Jahvaree Ritzie continued his strong play late in the season, as he racked up 6 total tackles, including 0.5 sacks, and 0.5 tackles for loss. Furthermore, Kevin Hester Jr had another strong showing, as he also recorded 6 total stops in the game. It seems like every time Carolina needs a big play defensively, Kaimon Rucker is involved, and he was on Saturday, as he accounted for 4 tackles, including a forced fumble, Gene Chizik is bringing out the best in the man known as “The Butcher” While Carolina only registered 1 sack of Sam Hartman and 3 QB pressures, the most important thing they did was fill their gaps, to allow Cedric Gray and Power Echols to make plays in space. There aren’t many times that a defense like the one the Tar Heels have put on the field allows you to play for a conference championship, but that’s where Carolina finds itself, and as much credit as the offense deserves, UNC wouldn’t have earned a spot in Charlotte without some timely plays from this group all season long.

Player Grades:

  • Kaimon Rucker: Defensive Grade (82.7) Run Defense (78.5) Tackling (77.2) Pass Rush (74.0) Coverage (60.0)

  • Myles Murphy: Defensive Grade (68.5) Run Defense (73.4) Tackling (75.9) Pass Rush (64.0) Coverage (60.0)

  • Kevin Hester Jr: Defensive Grade (66.1) Run Defense (67.3) Tackling (75.8) Pass Rush (58.7) Coverage (60.0)

  • Jahvaree Ritzie: Defensive Grade (51.8) Run Defense (50.0) Tackling (39.2) Pass Rush (56.7)


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