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Heel Tough Blog: Week 2 Stock Report - App State

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Week 2 of the college football season, has come and gone, and the Tar Heels are lucky to be 2-0 after it took overtime to beat App State in Kenan Stadium. The Tar Heels were looking to build off a season-opening win, that saw the Tar Heels put together one of the better defensive performances since Mack Brown returned to Chapel Hill. And while the offensive side of the ball did just that, the defensive struggles we’ve all grown used to seeing from this program, returned in full force. Here’s a look at who is trending up, and who is trending down after the win over the Mountaineers:

Trending Up:

  • Omarion Hamption: After British Brooks was ruled out with a lower-body injury, the Tar Heels turned to Omarion Hampton to carry the run game, and boy did he deliver. Hampton rushed the ball 26 times, for 234 yards, and three rushing touchdowns, putting together one of the better rushing performances in program history. Hampton averaged 9.0 yards per rush, and his longest was a 68-yard run, that resulted in the first of his three touchdowns. His physicality was too much for App State’s defense, as he finished runs all game long. Even if Brooks is healthy enough to play this weekend against Minnesota, Hampton needs to remain RB1, as he’s the most talented back on the roster, and one capable of being among the better backs in the ACC.

  • J.J. Jones: Needing to find a consistent pass catcher outside of Kobe Paysour, J.J. Jones may have had his coming out party on Saturday, totaling 5 catches for 91 yards. Now his numbers are inflated, because he had a 51-yard reception in the second half, meaning that his other 4 catches went for 41 yards, but this passing game is a work in progress, meaning the explosive plays aren’t going to be as frequent. Carolina needs to find guys to start winning on the outside more often, let’s hope that started with Jones’s potential emergence in the App State game.

  • Des Evans: It has taken some time, but it looks like Des Evans has finally started to play to his potential, and is becoming the force this team needs on the defensive line. Evans recorded six total tackles on Saturday, a half-tackle for loss, and even a pass defended. While Kaimon Rucker struggled to replicate his success from a week ago, Evans was the most consistent member of the defensive line, and did as good a job, setting the edge in the run game, and putting pressure on the quarterback.

Trending Down:

  • Tight End Room: John Copenhaver suffered a hand injury, that forced him to play with a club on his right hand, meaning that Carolina needed Bryson Nesbit and Kamari Morales to step up. That didn’t happen, as Morales dropped what would’ve been an opening drive touchdown, and Nesbit recorded the only catch from the tight end room, which went for just nine yards. It might be unfair for this room to be in the trending down section, given Copenhaver’s injury, but they need more from their other talented players, starting this week against Minnesota.

  • Special Teams: After place-kicking issues plagued the team down the stretch to end last season, Mack Brwon went and found a kicker in the transfer portal, bringing in Ryan Coe from Cincinnati, hoping to cure that issue. After Saturday, it appears there’s still more work to be done, as Coe was 2-3, and missed a potential game-winning kick in regulation. Furthermore, Carolina was very conservative in the kickoff return game, something Mack Brown said would be addressed this week during practice. If anything, Saturday was a reminder that this team has plenty of work to do to become the special teams unit they desire to be.

  • Kaimon Rucker: It might not be fair to point him out individually, as guys like Amari Gainer also struggled to build off their performance from Week 1, but given how dominant Rucker was against South Carolina, this last week was very underwhelming. Rucker totaled 3 total tackles, 2 of them solo, and he didn’t record a sack or a tackle for loss. After his performance against the Gamecocks, it looked like Rucker was ready for takeoff, but that belief was lessened after he was held in check by App State. Rucker is the leader of the defensive line and will be looking to bounce back this week against the Gophers.

The Tar Heels return to action this Saturday against the Minnesota Gophers. Kick is set for 3:30 PM on ESPN.

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