clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

#22 UNC vs Notre Dame

Where: Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill, NC
When: Saturday, October 11th, 3:30 PM
TV: ABC Regional
Records: UNC 4-1; Notre Dame 4-1

Another chance to beat a good team and then have someone tell us it doesn't really count.

There has been much made lately about UNC's offense being inconsistent and a glance at the stats lends some credence to that.  UNC has the 88th ranked total offense in the nation averaging 362 yards per game.  Part of the blame, well, most of the blame for the lower total lies with the rushing attack which is 91st overall.  The passing offense is only 71st nationally which is probably much lower than anitcipated even with Cam Sexton.  However, those numbers do not seem to sync up with the scoring offense which has UNC at 33rd in the nation.  As it turns out, UNC being tied for 12th overall in turnover margin likely has something to do with the general lack of offensive yards.  UNC leads the nation in interceptions and is 2nd in blocked punts/kicks with four, all belonging to Bruce Carter.  UNC is also 15th in punt returns and 30th in kick returns giving them a little more field position edge of the return game in general.  Mix all of this together with a ranking of 116th in time of possession what you realize is UNC scores quickly when they have the football.  Whether it be by short field generated by the defense/special teams or a quick strike run or pass play, the Heels are extremely efficent on offense in a way that would make Roy Williams proud.  So the next time someone says UNC's offense is inconsistent, be sure to point out that UNC averages more points per game than the six ACC teams ranked ahead of them in total offense with the exception of Florida State.  The last I checked points not yards determined the winner.

As for how that offense will perform against Notre Dame here is how the Irish defense shapes up statistically:

Rushing Defense: 59th overall
Passing Defense: 91st overall
Total Defense: 85th overall
Scoring Defense: 40th overall(tied with UNC)

Based on the stats, Cam Sexton should be able to work the ball to each pronge on the Trident of Doom otherwise known as the Tar Heel receiving corps.  ND does boast seven INTs on the season but is not known for a propensity to sack the opposing QB.  In that respect Sexton will have time to throw but might be facing good coverage if the Irish are content to drop back more and force UNC to find its running game.

Speaking of which, Shaun Draughan comes off the Heels' first 100 yard game of the season which included a huge run for a TD.  UNC needs more of the same from Draughan and it would be nice to see Greg Little show up.  Little is going against the team he decommitted from to sign with UNC so it would be nice if the sophomore from Durham could cause Charlie Weis all sorts of resentful frustration over the fact Little changed his mind.  Everyone is waiting for Little to have a breakout game but who knows if he will get the chance, especially if Draughan is effective.  For my money, I would like to see John Shoop use Little all over the field on offense and make him a general pain in the rear end for opposing teams to figure out how to cover along with Nicks, Tate and Foster.

In my mind, the offense will be fine, especially if the running game comes around.  The defense has been the unit that has really broken games open.  Blocked punts were the order of the day against UConn along with a key INT by Marvin Austin.  The defense facilitated the comeback versus Miami with a shutdown performance in the 2nd half and it was the hard hitting secondary as well as more INTs that crushed Rutgers.  The only loss UNC has was in a game where the defense made mistakes with penalties and was worn down by the end of the game.  The defense has set the tone for the game and the table for the offense in almost every game.  The problem with the defense is the number of yards given up.  It has been a bend but not break type of defense.  UNC has depended greatly on big 3rd down stops, INTs and a general knack for making plays when they absolutely needed it.  While that is great, some concern arises from the fact opposing QBs do a decent job of carving up the Tar Heel secondary and Irish QB Jimmy Clausen is good enough to do exactly that.  UNC would do well to pressure Clausen and do more to limit yards after the catch or permitting too many wide open looks.  The ND running game is actually worse than UNC on average meaning if you like passing, this game will be fun to watch.

David Glenn on 850 has said at least twice that Butch Davis has his players buying into the program to the point some of them are doing film work at sunrise.  When players start spending serious time prepping for the game and doing the little things, it shows up on the field in the way they play.  What's more, that kind of committment from players means you will see them show up to take care of business on game day.  No one shows up to do film review at 6:30 AM and then comes out passive with the game starts.  Butch Davis has brought a new attitude and this team is reflecting it with committed work during the week and agressive play in that businesslike fashion during the game.  That is an intangible edge that has been lost for many years in Chapel Hill and now a part of the winning going on this season.

UNC 31 ND 20