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UNC Football vs. Florida State: X-Factor

Can the Carolina defense perform at a high level in consecutive weeks?

Duke v North Carolina Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

The North Carolina Tar Heels defense has been a rollercoaster this season. In the week following a disappointing defensive performance, UNC stepped up against their archrivals with one of their best defensive efforts under defensive coordinator Jay Bateman.

In the post game show, head coach Mack Brown echoed this sentiment:

Defensively, that’s the best we’ve played since we’ve been here.

After giving up so much on the ground versus Georgia Tech, the prospect of facing off against the second-leading rusher in the ACC on Saturday was a concerning thought.

However, the run defense mostly contained Mataeo Durant last Saturday. A 37-yard run was nearly a third of his total output that day, and Durant did not find the endzone for the first time all season.

Myles Murphy continued his impressive sophomore season with a sack and 2.5 tackles for loss on Saturday.

The defensive secondary put on a show versus the Blue Devils. Four DBs led the team in tackles, and were integral in winning the turnover battle.

Cam’Ron Kelly led the team with seven tackles and had a clutch third quarter interception. Trey Morrison’s scope and score was the eventual difference maker as it put Carolina up 14-0.

As UNC hosts Florida State this weekend, the X-Factor is if the Carolina defense can put up results in consecutive weeks.

If Carolina fans recall from last season, a one loss FSU took down the fifth-ranked Tar Heels.

And the same dual-threat quarterback that torched the Tar Heels for 107 yards and two touchdowns on the ground in 2020 just led the Seminoles to the first win of their season last week against Syracuse.

The questions surrounding the defense’s ability to slow down dual-threat quarterbacks and be a consistent force week-to-week are in front of the entire world to see. Can the Tar Heels answer Saturday afternoon?