The Heels traveled up the road to Durham and beat the stuffing out of Duke this past Thursday, a game many Heels fans will feel like symbolized a return to normalcy in the football portion of the rivalry. With the win, Larry Fedora has his first win over Duke and Carolina is assured another bowl game this year. Duke's loss eliminated the Blue Devils from a shot at the ACC Title game, Georgia Tech will now represent the Coastal Division against Florida State in two weeks.
This game featured a variety of surprising trends, Fedora changed his play calling in this game to feature more running plays once Carolina was in the lead. Fedora was also much more aggressive in this game, going for multiple fourth down conversion attempts in the contest.
And Now: The Grades
Complete More Than 60% of Passes: B
While Marquise Williams did not have his best game of the season against the Blue Devils, he did complete 67% of his pass attempts. Williams was shaky at several points in the contest, fumbling on three straight second quarter drives. At the half, Carolina fans could legitimately be disappointed to not be winning 49-7 or by a similar score. Williams did make multiple good throws in this game, particularly to Ryan Switzer on deep passes. Williams still failed to hook up with Mack Hollins on deep passes, the two have been off for the past 3 contests, if this connection gets rediscovered the Heels' offense could become really potent.
Use Multiple Receivers: A
While Williams missed Hollins deep, the two did connect on a 4th and goal touchdown strike. Williams, in fact, threw to 9 different receivers in the game. This game showed the strength of the Carolina offense when they spread the ball around. Quinshad Davis continued a second strong week of results, catching 6 passes (including one for a touchdown), a team high. This game showcased the strengths of every receiver on the Heels' roster, from Switzer's deep routes to route running of Austin Proehl. The Heels have more offensive weapons than their opponents do defensive backs and should continue to spread the wealth in their final two games.
Make Boone Beat You: A
The Heel's defense put together their best game of season shutting down Duke's offense. Duke struggled to get anything going in meaningful game time and the Heels were able to take advantage. Carolina forced Duke to rely on their passing game, and when he was called upon Boone could not exploit the Heels. Carolina did everything on defense well this game, forcing turnovers, bottling up running backs and limiting receivers. Carolina's defense was a critical part of this game, if they play this way for the rest of the season they may prove that the Heels deserved their preseason top 25 ranking.