A Brief Look at Miami

Let's talk interceptions.

The defenses of North Carolina and Miami currently lead the ACC in interceptions, with twelve and eleven, respectively. It helps that each team has managed a five-grab game against the dredges of the ACC Coastal Division, against Virginia and Duke, but the point still stands. These are two secondaries that excel at getting the opposing quarterback to put the ball in the wrong hands.

Only one quarterback in this game is prone to throwing interceptions, however, and it's not the guy from Chapel Hill. Jacory Harris has thrown the ball away nine times this season, and has only gone without a pick in games against lowly Florida A&M and Duke. Put a decent secondary in front of him, and he'll hand you the ball, as UNC proved last year when Kendic Burney came up with three interceptions and Da'Norris Searcy one. Of course, Burney remains sidelined, first for illicit benefits and now for academic issues, while Charles Brown was declared ineligible for the entire season. More worrisome is the Heels' defensive line, which in light of the losses there has reverted to the 2008 scheme of deemphasizing sacks in favor of containment; Harris will have a lot of time to throw, and although not the scrambler that your more impressive ACC quarterbacks are, does have some speed. Harris does have a favorite target in senior Leonard Hankerson, and a strong running game in Damien Berry; the quicker the UNC offense can put points on the board and force Harris to throw when he'd rather not, the better.

On offense, UNC has the same problems they've had all season – a weak offensive line and running game that will occasionally struggle because of it. Miami is third in the ACC in sacks, so they will come hard, and Yates has lost his favorite receiver in Zach Pianalto, so a good running game will be essential. FSU beat Miami with a 298-yard rushing performance, while Ohio State relied on scrambling quarterback Terrelle Pryor. UNC's combo of Shaun Draughn and Johnny White has cooled off since the 200+ yard performance against ECU, dwindling to 122 yards and one score last week against Virginia. They'll have to improve; Ryan Houston's fourth quarter performance against Miami last year was critical in getting Carolina the win, but he's most likely redshirting this season.

UNC hasn't allowed more than 17 points in its four wins this season, while Miami can only win when it scores early an often. If the defense keeps playing like it has been despite the setbacks, the Heels shoud be able to take their sixth straight against the Hurricanes.

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