Fresh off a fourth quarter comeback win against Pitt the Tar Heels will travel to Duke to play the Blue Devils in a nationally televised Thursday. Duke is coming off only their second loss all season and are still in the driver's seat for a Coastal Division Title and second consecutive berth in the ACC title game. Carolina can play spoiler to Duke's dreams of a shot at the title game by beating the Blue Devils, who would then fall behind Georgia Tech in the Coastal Division. This game will be a tall task for the Heels, Duke runs the football very well, something that the Heels defense has proven multiple times this year they can't really do. This will also be one of the better defenses the Heels will have played all year, and the winner of the battle between Marquise Williams and all of Duke's defense will most likely determine who wins this game.
Duke is led on offense by senior quarterback Anthony Boone. Boone is coming off two of his weakest games this season, posting consecutive games with fewer than 50% of passes completed and throwing for less than 200 yards while also tossing three interceptions and only one touchdown. However, Carolina is a great defense for opposing quarterbacks to play against allowing the 5th most yards per attempt in the entire country, 8.8 yards per attempt. Except one game against Syracuse, Boone has completed above 55% of his passes in all wins. That is a useful stat to watch in this game, if Boone is rolling then Duke will most likely win.
Duke has the 27th best running attack in the country, averaging 5.3 yards per carry. Duke employs a stable of running backs and running quarterbacks. Duke has six players with a minimum of 30 carries on the season and all of those players have more than 145 yards from scrimmage. Carolina has allowed an average of 283.75 rushing yards per game over its past 4 games. Against Duke, Carolina will have to perform better if they want to get their offense on the field and have any shot of winning the game.
Duke has the 13th best passing defense in terms of completion percentage. Duke allows opponents to only complete 52.2% of their passes this season. The Blue Devils have intercepted 11 passes this year, held opponents to fewer than 200 yards per game while also only allowing 7 passing touchdowns all season. Duke's weakness on defense is its weakness against the run against backs. Unfortunately UNC lacks a workhorse back who can take advantage of this weakness. To beat Duke, Carolina will need to either discover production in the run game or beat Duke through the air with Marquise Williams.
Complete More Than 60% of Passes:
Marquise Williams is the key to the Heels' success just like he has been all season. For the Heels to win, Williams needs to complete more than 60% of his passes and beat Duke through the air. If Williams can excel then the Heels can win, and secure a bowl berth while also ending Duke's ACC Title chances.
Use Multiple Receivers:
Last year, Quinshad Davis was UNC's best offensive weapon. This year he was removed from being a key part of the offense in favor of Mack Hollins. However, last week Davis came up big and without him, the Heels would not have won the game. The Heels can't ignore Davis again if they want to continue to be successful this season. Marquise Williams needs to continue to hit a variety of receivers for the Heels to win.
Make Boone Beat You:
For the Heels to win, Duke can not grind them down with their running game. The Heels must contain the Duke rushing offense and make Boone beat them through the air. If the Heels can do this, then they might get that elusive 6th win.