One of the tests for the Tar Heels this season was proving that they can win games when the offense didn’t score 40 points, without doing so, it would be hard to consider them as a favorite to emerge from the ACC Coastal. They did that last Saturday, taking down Miami 27-24 on the road, as UNC is 4-0 against the Hurricanes since Mack Brown returned to Chapel Hill. Carolina won despite Drake Maye committing two turnovers, and the offense scoring just six points in the second half. While the defense allowed Tyler Van Dyke to throw for nearly 500 yards, they also forced two Miami turnovers and stopped them on fourth down twice, thus bending not breaking, and allowing 24 points. The win improved Carolina to 5-1, and the Heels have emerged as the favorites in a wide-open Coastal division. Let’s take a look at how the offensive and defensive lines played last weekend:
Carolina’s run game looked much better at times in Miami, as they amassed 161 yards on 43 rushing attempts, which averages out to 3.7 yards per carry. Caleb Hood led the way with 74 yards on 13 rushes, as Drake Maye was the second-leading rusher with 53 yards on 14 carries. He was also sacked 5 times. Mack Brown has insisted that they need to be able to run the football better, primarily with the tailbacks, and Saturday showed us why. The more that Carolina struggles to run the football with their running backs, the easier it will be for defensive coordinators to take away Drake’s running ability, and pick up on their tendencies overall as an offensive unit. While the offense did commit three false start penalties, only one belonged to a member from the offensive line, as the unit continues to show improvement at playing with discipline, something they struggled to do so under Stacey Searles. This weekend’s matchup against Duke should lend an opportunity to take a stop at being a much more dominant force in the run game while bouncing back in pass protection.
Carolina may have yielded a lot of passing yards, but make no mistake, the defensive line was in the Miami backfield all night long. They held the Hurricanes to only 41 yards on 23 carries, averaging out to 1.8 yards per rush. While the defensive line wasn’t credited with a sack, they did a terrific job penetrating the Miami offensive line, getting off blocks, and making plays in the running game. Saturday was another step towards this defense taking shape under Gene Chizik. Led by Des Evans who recorded 3 total tackles, 1 tackle for loss, and 1 QB hurry, followed by Keeshawn Silver and Kevin Hester Jr also totaling 3 tackles each. Tim Cross has started rotating more guys on and off the field, and it’s paying off as guys are staying fresh, and making effort plays we haven’t seen under Mack Brown. Duke’s running game is different than any they’ve seen so far this season, thus giving this group a new challenge they need to embrace head-on.