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Heel Tough Blog: Wofford Preview

Saturday, the Tar Heels will host the senior day festivities for the 2021 season against the Wofford Terriers and will honor 22 players who might be playing their final home games of their careers. A win would put the Tar Heels in a bowl game this season, something that seemed like a foregone conclusion heading into the season, but was far from a given as the team approached the halfway point of the season. The Tar Heels will now look to blast the lowly Terriers to earn that bid and build some momentum before the rivalry matchup with the NC State Wolfpack next Friday.

Team Breakdowns

Tar Heels

The Tar Heels will come into this game with the major talent advantage and the hope is that that will allow them to run away with this game and get a chance to evaluate some of the players deeper on the depth chart. Heading into the game, the biggest focus will be on the quarterback position where Sam Howell is questionable with an upper body injury that the team will test in warm ups to determine if he will play. That means the team will have to prepare to possibly start their first quarterback other than Howell since the start of the Mack Brown 2.0 tenure in Chapel Hill. Jacolby Criswell and Drake Maye have been neck-and-neck in the backup quarterback battle for nearly the entire season, but the team would likely go with the more experienced Criswell to start the game based on how the two have rotated in behind Howell so far this season. The Tar Heels need to lean on the run game heavily against a struggling Wofford run defense and a team that they should be able to push around easily. The offensive line struggled in the first half of last week’s game and they have to be able to shake that off and turn themselves back in the right direction as they get ready to prepare for one of the toughest defensive lines that they will face all season next week against NC State. The running back group struggled to find space against Pittsburgh, but had really hit a stride prior to that, led by the veteran Ty Chandler, who will be looking to get to the 1,000 yard rushing mark for the season on Saturday in his final game in Kenan. The pass catchers will also need to step up around the young quarterbacks if they have to start this one. The good news is that this group as a whole has shaken off the issues that they have had contributing outside of Josh Downs, mainly thanks to the fact that Antoine Green has broken out in the last three games. This game could also be a game where you can get a good look at some of the young receivers and tight ends that could play major roles for the team next season.

The Tar Heels showed some real promise defensively against Pittsburgh in that second half and they need to be able to continue to build off of that down the stretch here. The defensive front had one of their best games of the season last Thursday and they need to build off of that. Starters like Raymond Vohasek and Myles Murphy have been rather quiet recently, but the underclassmen in the group have begun to step up, led by Des Evans and Jahvaree Ritzie, who have seen extended reps as the season has progressed and should continue to see those reps increase if they can build off of what they have done recently. At linebacker, Jeremiah Gemmel will be playing the final home game of his career and will once again team with Cedric Gray as part of a unit that has found more consistency as the season has gone along and might be coming off of their best game of the season. This game could also be a great chance to get a look at the two true freshmen who will likely be battling for the reps as they attempt to replace Gemmel in the offseason. The secondary continues its hit and miss nature and that was a big part of the issues early on against the Panthers, but this won’t be a game where they will be able to work out those kinks with the Terriers running a triple option offense. The hope is that the unit will be ready to go, though, for next week where they will need to be in top form to find a way to slow down an NC State passing game that is having a lot of success here recently.

The Tar Heels special teams unit continues to look really good this season. Placekicker Grayson Atkins, who early in the season struggled with consistency has become reliable down the stretch and has joined the rest of the unit that has been above average or better for the better part of the season and has made major strides from last season.


Not only is this the easiest opponent that the Tar Heels have faced this season because they are an FCS team, it’s also that this is one of the worst teams in all of college football this season. Offensively, they could present a bit of a challenge for the Tar Heel defense with the fact that they do run the triple option, but outside of that they shouldn’t present much of an issue. Irvin Mulligan leads the way on the ground for the Terriers, but no one else in the backfield has more that 300 total yards on the ground this season. The team has bounced back and forth between quarterbacks all season, but it looks like Peyton Derrick will be the guy who starts the game under center for them in this one. He does have a legit threat on the outside at receiver in Alec Holt, but Holt has only caught 20 passes so far this season. The offensive line is a rather veteran one, but is not one that has really dominated this season.

As for the defensive side of the football, this is a group that has simply been gashed on the ground so far this season. The defensive line has really struggled so far this season, especially when it has come to creating negative plays for the defense, as they have just 30.0 tackles for loss and 11.0 sacks so far this season. Joe Beckett is the standout of this defense and Michael Mason and Chuck Smith are capable guys on the defensive front. The unit has not created many turnovers this season, forcing just nine the entire season, something that could be beneficial for the Tar Heels if they have to start a rookie quarterback.

The Wofford special teams unit looks to be an average unit, but there will be opportunities for the Tar Heel return games and there are some hit and miss moments from the kicking game, as well.

Team Stats

Tar Heels

Off. PPG: 37.3 (14th)

Off. PYPG: 275.8 (24th)

Off. RYPG: 203.5 (24th)

Off. TYPG: 479.3 (11th)

Off. 3rd Down %: 47.3% (12th)

Def. PPG: 33.1 (110th)

Def. PYPG: 251.2 (99th)

Def. RYPG: 171.7 (95th)

Def. TYPG: 422.9 (96th)

Def. 3rd Down %: 42.6% (103rd)

Sacks: 21.0 (T-70th)

Interceptions: 10 (T-32nd)

Turnover Margin: 0 (T-68th)


Off. PPG: 21.1

Off. PYPG: 116.4

Off. RYPG: 209.5

Off. TYPG: 325.9

Off. 3rd Down %: 35.9%

Def. PPG: 34.6

Def. PYPG: 226.0

Def. RYPG: 222.0

Def. TYPG: 448.0

Def. 3rd Down %: 51.1%

Sacks: 11.0

Interceptions: 2

Turnover Margin: -3

Keys to the Game

Run the Ball Early and Often

This Wofford defense has had issues stopping the run all season long and the Tar Heels should take advantage of that on Thursday night. The Tar Heels should be able to find running lanes and this should be a chance for Ty Chandler to put up another big game and for the younger depth pieces to get some good run and start to get a feel for who can help you next year. This will become more important if Howel can not play.

Offensive Line Needs to Dominate

As we mentioned above, this unit took a step back against Pittsburgh and they need to get themselves back on track in this one. That should be much of an issue, but remember that the team had their issues early in the season against Georgia State, a team they should have dominated. It shouldn’t be an issue, but you would like to see guys like Joshua Ezeudu and Jordan Tucker rebound from bad showings a week ago.

Run Away So You Can See Some of the Depth

The most important thing in this game outside of a win will be getting the young guys some reps, especially at the positions where you will have to replace some of the guys that will participate in the senior day festivities. The more time you can get these guys, the better, so the goal for the Tar Heels need to be to create as much separation as they can as quickly as they can.

Injury Report

Tar Heels

OUT- Don Chapman (undisclosed), Tyrone Hopper (undisclosed)

QUEST- Beau Corrales (sports hernia), Sam Howell (upper body)

PROB- Caleb Hood (upper body)


OUT- Forrest Alvarez (undisclosed), Logan Barnes (undisclosed), Tanner Barnes (undisclosed), John Boyles (undisclosed), Brandon Brown (undisclosed), Ozzy Clayton (undisclosed), Paxton Cotrell (undisclosed), Santana Curtis (undisclosed), Dillon Droze (undisclosed), Cecil Fisher (undisclosed), Marcus Gatling (undisclosed), Romello Gray (undisclosed), Al Hogan (undisclosed), Joey Kimberling (undisclosed), Devin Mathews (undisclosed), Landon Parker (undisclosed), Miles Richardson (undisclosed), Howie Thomas (undisclosed), C.J. Tillman (undisclosed), Garrett Vernon (undisclosed), Isaiah Wadsworth (undisclosed), Jimmy Weirick (undisclosed), Ethan Youmans (undisclosed)

Tar Heel Senior Day Honorees

#17 Grayson Atkins

#24 British Brooks

#94 Adam Buck

#35 Carson Burgess

#19 Ty Chandler

#15 Beau Corrales

#12 Tomon Fox

#44 Jeremiah Gemmel

#89 Gray Goodwyn

#42 Tyrone Hopper

# 7 Sam Howell

#69 Quiron Johnson

#65 Nick Mackovic

#73 Marcus McKethan

# 1 Kyler McMichael

# 4 Trey Morrison

#97 Alex Nobles

#79 Hunter Shope

#74 Jordan Tucker

#51 Raymond Vohasek

#84 Garrett Walston

Projected Starting Lineups

Tar Heels Offense

QB# 7 Sam Howell, So.

RB#19 Ty Chandler, Sr.

WR#83 Justin Olson, So.

WR# 3 Antoine Green, Sr.

WR#11 Josh Downs, So.

TE#84 Garrett Walston, Sr. OR #88 Kamari Morales, So.

LT#72 Asim Richards, Jr.

LG#75 Joshua Ezeudu, Jr.

C#69 Quiron Johnson, Sr.

RG#73 Marcus McKethan, Sr.

RT#74 Jordan Tucker, Sr. Defense

END#25 Kaimon Rucker, So.

NOSE#51 Raymond Vohasek, Jr.

TACKLE# 8 Myles Murphy, So.

OLB#12 Tomon Fox, Sr.

OLB#17 Chris Collins, Jr.

ILB#44 Jeremiah Gemmel, Sr.

ILB#33 Cedric Gray, So.

CB#20 Tony Grimes, So.

FS# 4 Trey Morrison, Jr.

SS# 9 Cam’Ron Kelly, Jr.

CB#29 Storm Duck, So.

NB# 0 Ja’Qurious Conley, So. Special Teams

K#17 Grayson Atkins, Sr.

KOS#95 Jonathan Kim, Jr.

P#91 Ben Kiernan, Jr.

LS#61 Drew Little, Jr.

H#91 Ben Kiernan, Jr.

KR# 0 Ja’Qurious Conley, So.

PR#11 Josh Downs, So.

Wofford Offense

QB#13 Peyton Derrick, Sr.

RB#34 Irvin Mulligan, Jr.

RB#21 Nathan Walker, Sr.

WR#11 Alec Holt, So.

WR# 6 R.J. Khayo, Jr.

TE#87 Wyatt Bartkowiak, So.

LT#72 Jysaiah Cromer, Jr.

LG#74 Nick Russo, Jr.

C#50 Anthony Garcia, So.

RG#55 Chad Gardner, Sr.

RT#78 Quashon Greenlee, Sr. Defense

DE#99 Micheal Mason, Jr.

NT#93 Brandon Maina, Fr.

DE#97 Chuck Smith, So.

OLB#46 John Beckley, Sr.

ILB#45 Joe Beckett, Sr.

ILB#37 Camden Gray, Fr.

OLB#40 Harrison Morgan, So.

CB#20 Donavan Anderson, Sr.

SS# 6 Okachi Emmanwori, Jr.

FS# 2 Tahir Annoor, Jr.

CB# 3 Jaheem Hazel, Jr. Special Teams

K#49 Walker Gliarmis, Jr.

KOS#35 Atkins Roberts, So.

P#35 Atkins Roberts, So.

LS#60 Colin Springer, Sr.

H#35 Atkins Roberts, So.

KR# 6 R.J. Khayo, Jr. OR #13 Amir Annoor, Fr.

PR 6 R.J. Khayo, Jr.

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