Sometimes by timing impresses even me. Thursday I wrote:
If the Heels are going to succeed on the offensive side, however, it will probably be on the ground, the side of the offense not affected by scandal.
So yeah, not so much. Both Shaun Draughns and Ryan Houston were left behind in Chapel Hill this weekend, along eleven other impact players, mostly on the defensive end. Which puts the rushing game UNC was going to rely on so heavily in the hands of Johnny White.
White was the starting tailback back in 2007 for eight games and finished the season as the team's leading rusher. Unfortunately, it only took 399 yards to lead the team that season, and he lost the starting job before the season's end to Greg Little. White found himself playing cornerback for much of 2008, before returning to the tailback position; he spent last season as the third option behind Draughns and Houston. His best game came after Draughns' injury when he managed 83 yards on 7 carries, to go along with 17 carriers from Houston and 4 from Jheranie Boyd. (Boyd is eligible, and me some carries, but mostly in trick play situations.) Those 83 yards, coming against State, are weighted by a 40-yard touchdown run; there was also a fumble on the one-yard line, denying the Heels a scoring drive in the first quarter that turned out to be the difference in the game. The performance didn't sell the coaches on his abilities, and he had no carries in the bowl game against Pittsburgh.
White has also been the primary kick returner since Hakeem Nicks and Brandon Tate graduated, so has speed, but prefers the open field rather than strong runs through the tackles. That doesn't bode well, as LSU has a stronger secondary than defensive line. He'll have to put on a senior perfromance we haven't seen to date to get Carolina the victory. It's a pretty difficult task, but just one of the hurdles UNC is going to have to overcome today with their shorthanded team.