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UNC vs. Syracuse: Players to Watch

Can the front seven step up again versus a dangerous dual-threat QB?

Virginia Tech v North Carolina Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

In the heartbreaker versus Virginia Tech, there were a lot of self-inflicted wounds that led to the loss. One area of pride for the North Carolina Tar Heels was the defensive line.

This week, there will be a tremendous challenge awaiting the entire defensive corps in senior Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey.

The dual-threat quarterback has been on fire while playing inside the Carrier Dome. The Orange are undefeated this year in Syracuse, with wins over Wagner, Florida State, and UConn. Syracuse has outscored their opponents 143-38 at home.

For the Tar Heels to have a chance, Dungey must be contained through the air and on the ground.

In those three games, Dungey has thrown for 579 yards, completing almost 69 percent of his passes. He has thrown seven touchdowns, while allowing just one interception. These marks give Dungey a 163.4 passer rating under the dome.

The bigger issue for UNC is Dungey’s running ability. He ranks 10th in the ACC with 435 yards on the ground, good for ninth in the league at 72.9 yards rushing per game.

The entire front seven, not just the defensive line, must be disciplined in their efforts to both disrupt the passing game and limit the run.

Last week versus Virginia Tech, Carolina put pressure on Hokie QB Ryan Willis, sacking him four times and forcing him to cough up two interceptions.

Virginia Tech v North Carolina Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Malik Carney and Jason Strowbridge each had two sacks to lead the defensive line’s efforts. The defense had nine tackles for loss, five pass deflections, and three hurries.

Needless to say, this is the type of defensive effort that must be replicated for UNC to have a chance against the highest scoring offense in the ACC.

If they are able to keep Carolina in the game, all eyes will turn to the struggling offense to convert their chances into touchdowns.