When things were going well a couple of weeks ago for Carolina against Miami, it had a lot to do with the fact that Michael Carter was getting the ground game going. As the turnovers mounted, it was easy to forget that the Tar Heels had found some success early on.
For Carolina to have any sort of luck against Virginia Tech, Carter is going to need to be just as strong, if not stronger.
With the news that Chaz Surratt is out for the year, the offense is once again going to be guided by Nathan Elliott. It’s know at this point that there is only so much that he can do. In their win against Pitt, Elliott’s 300+ yards in the air were supplemented by nearly 200 on the ground. In that game Antonio Williams led the way, but if this offense is going to move it’s going to be on the back of the back who has the most experience in this offense.
How important is the rushing game to Carolina? VT has lost twice this year — to ODU and to ND. In those games, the Hokies gave up 137 yards and 167 yards on the ground, but keep in mind those include sacks. Each team was able to rack up a long run on the Hokie defense, which knocked it back on its heels and allowed the teams to dictate play. In the case of ODU, it left the Hokies scrambling on the game-defining drive. In the case of Notre Dame, they were never able to get fully set which allowed the Irish to run away.
Carter gives Carolina the best chance to establish power out of the backfield similar to how Jeremy Cox did for ODU and Dexter Williams did for Notre Dame. Antonio Williams may be the most dynamic runner, but it was Carter who had the 7/75 line against the stout defense of the Hurricanes. He would also be looking to atone for just a 16 yard effort last year against this Hokie defense.
The other reason to single Carter out, though, is the mere fact that he just seemed to be the latest in the line of Larry Fedora running backs who put up great stats one moment and then literally disappeared the next. Carter amassed all of his yardage in the first half, and he never seemed to even see the field once the Tar Heels got out of the locker room. While the argument could be made that the Heels were so far down a ground attack was not necessary at that point, it still doesn’t explain the zero touches for the guy who was the best rusher.
Was he hurt again and it was never announced? Or was Fedora doing what he does and just pulling a back when it doesn’t seem like they are in a game they can win. Either way, if Carter can put up similar numbers to what he did against Miami and do it for two halves, there’s a chance Virginia Tech may leave Chapel Hill with their third loss of the year.