The Heels lost in another frustrating Saturday afternoon clash. For the first time in Larry Fedora’s tenure, The Oldest Rivalry in the South was won by the Fighting Thomas Jeffersons from the Commonwealth of Virginia. Yet, for the first time since Chazz Surratt’s 56 yard scamper against Duke, the rushing game showed signs of life.
More specifically, Michael Carter provided the offensive spark on another lackluster day from the offense. Below we break down his two long runs that should give UNC players, coaches, and fans a small glimmer of hope for the future.
On his first carry of the second half, Carter ran through the UVA defense for a 56 yard gain, thanks to great blocking execution from the offensive line. Three specific events took place on this one play. For reference, Bentley Spain is lined up at left tackle, Khaliel Rodgers as left guard, and R.J. Prince at right guard.
- Spain engaged the defensive end and manhandles him to the outside.
- Rodgers pushed up the field looking for a linebacker on the “second level”.
- Prince pulls across the line, and absorbs the defensive tackle, pushing him to the outside as well.
Virginia attempted to set the edge, and contain Carter behind his blockers to the outside. They failed. Instead, the execution by those three linemen opened up a hole for Carter to exploit. In particular, Rodgers’ block on the MLB effectively delayed three different UVA players between the hash marks.
To his credit, Carter was patient and once the sea of blue and white jerseys parted, he exploded down the field. You can even see Carter place his hand on Prince’s back, as though he was guiding the line where they should go. The freshman’s acceleration carried him the rest of the way.....until he was brought down at the 11 yard line. Oh well. He can work on finishing speed in the offseason.
Two possessions later, Carter was at it again. This time a 47 yard dash down the field led to his second touchdown. In this case, the blocking scheme wasn’t as complex as the first long run.
The most impressive moment of this play was when the left guard, freshman Brian Anderson, absorbs two defenders at once. He dispatches both of them to the middle of the field, providing just enough of a delay to their momentum. That provides a sweeping, outside rushing lane for Carter to find on the corner.
Carter obliges, makes a quick cut to the outside, and races to the sideline as he turns up field. This time he is not caught from behind, and crosses the goal line for his seventh TD of the year.
Michael Carter has been up and down over the course of the season. That’s expected as freshman running back. However, this past Saturday he gave us all a glimpse of what the future of UNC’s ground attack may look like.