The Hurricanes blow into town this weekend looking to avenge a late comeback loss from last season. That loss saw Miami plummet from being ranked 16th to being unranked the following week. Miami, much like Virginia Tech, will try to pour it on quickly to avenge the loss from a season ago.
Although Miami comes into this game again ranked, this time 8th, the Tar Heels are a far different team than they were a year ago. Last season, North Carolina was 4-2 overall and 2-1 in the ACC when these teams met. This season, the Tar Heels are a lowly 1-7 overall and still sitting winless in the ACC at 0-5.
What can we reasonably expect to see this Saturday in Kenan Stadium? According to Coach Fedora, probably more of the same. At least, he isn’t planning on changing anything anytime soon.
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North Carolina Offense vs. Miami Defense:
Offense - Quarterback(s):
Does Chazz Surratt continue to lead the team, or will Brandon Harris once again be in the huddle come Saturday? Many fans are calling for Nathan Elliott, but his performance on Saturday in garbage time was shaky. Expect to see both Surratt and Harris taking snaps throughout the game.
Offense - Running Backs:
Jordon Brown and Michael Carter will need to, once again, try to anchor the offensive production. For this to happen, the Tar Heels will need the offensive line to step up on open up some running lanes. If there is a repeat of last week’s 1.3 yards per carry, you can expect a similar outcome this weekend. Miami’s rushing defense stat sits at 180 yards per game. That number is a bit skewed by 200 yard rushing games by Florida State, Georgia Tech, and Syracuse. What this means is that if North Carolina is clicking on all cylinders, Miami is prone to giving up big rushing games and we could see a big day from Brown or Carter (or even one of the quarterbacks).
Offense - Receivers and Tight Ends:
The Tar Heels need to use the passing game as a supplement to the running game. They should do just enough in the air to keep the defense honest. Short, high percentage passes that move the sticks. Deep shots should be used sparingly as they haven’t been to kind to the Heels over the last few weeks.
North Carolina Defense vs. Miami Offense:
Miami Passing Game:
Malik Rosier has slid into the hole left open by Brad Kaaya and hasn’t missed a beat. He has thrown for over 1700 yards and completed 60% of his passes in six games. MJ Stewart and crew will have their work cut out for them as Rosier likes to spread the ball around and has four players with at least 200 yards receiving on the season.
Miami Rushing Game:
On the ground, Travis Homer has taken the lead at running back since feature back Mark Walton had season ending ankle surgery after their win against Florida State. Homer has rushed for over 400 yards, getting 20 rushes in the past two games. Needless to say, the Hurricanes plan on using a heavy dose of Homer, along with Rosier, in the rushing game.
The Turnover Chain:
If you haven’t heard, Miami has a new piece of jewelry on the sidelines. The “Turnover Chain” is a thick gold necklace adorned with a huge, green-and-orange “U” pendant. Each time a member of the defense causes a turnover, they wear the chain throughout the offensive possession. Last week, the Hurricanes forced four interceptions against Syracuse and the chain made an appearance each time. Hopefully, North Carolina can keep their miscues to a minimum and the bling can stay packed away. That will be tough because Miami is tied for 5th in turnover margin at +8. If the Tar Heels cannot play a clean game, I’m sure we will see plenty of this: