I can't decide if the defense showed improvement or not. On paper, it was a step up - Miami only had 180 yards passing and 148 rushing, with 62 of the latter coming in one broken play that served as the final nail in the Tar Heels coffin. Of course, you don't need that many yards when you start close to your opponents end zone. Miami only had one scoring drive that started behind their own 40 and never needed more than seven plays to score. The Hurricanes got their first passing touchdown, highest point total, and largest scoring margin of the year, none of which points to a defensive resurgence.
It's all moot since the other side of the ball regressed to the interception-throwing, quaterback controversy days of Virginia Tech. UNC managed 186 yards in the air, off of Sexton's 9/28 and Dailey's 4/8 passing, and a lackluster 64 yards rushing. In the turnover sweepstakes, Sexton had two interceptions and two fumbles (both recovered by UNC) while Dailey ended the final offensive effort by coughing up the ball on the Miami 31.
In 2004 flashback news, Connor Barth had no field goal opportunities.