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UNC vs. Miami: Three Things Learned

The Tar Heels are officially bowl eligible, and there are still six games to go.

NCAA Football: Miami at North Carolina Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

For the fifth year in a row, the Tar Heels took down the Miami Hurricanes thanks to a spectacular performance from Tez Walker. A lot was made of the Canes’ defense going into this game, yet the Heels shredded them for 508 total yards and five touchdowns. Miami played hard in the first half, and looked like a team that wanted to make up for the embarrassment of their loss against Georgia Tech, but in the end Drake Maye & Co. were simply too much deal with.

Without further delay, let’s discuss three things we learned from last night’s game.

Tez Walker is a human cheat code

While the hyperbole is probably a bit cringe, UNC wide receiver Tez Walker was arguably the biggest reason that the Heels were able to dominate the second half of last night’s game. He caught passes all over the field, and was even used as a runner on a couple of plays. He finished the night with six catches for 132 yards and three touchdowns, but also ran the ball twice for 19 yards.

When offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey spoke about Walker during his presser earlier in the week, he made it sound like they would ease him back into action. Something clearly changed since then, because Walker was easily one of the most utilized pieces on offense alongside Omarion Hampton. Seeing his speed, athleticism, and excellent route running has to be exciting for both the team and fans, and we really got a look at just how good the Kent State transfer is. I’m sure there are some Miami fans that are not thrilled with the NCAA for caving, because truly I don’t think the Heels win this game without him.

Omarion Hampton didn’t get the memo about Miami’s defense

Every now and then there is a narrative that is pushed about a team that ends up getting debunked in hilarious fashion. In this case, Miami’s defense was thought of to be one of the best in the country in stopping the run, and in all fairness, the numbers reflected that as well. The Hurricanes allowed an average of 58.2 rushing yards per game prior to last night’s game, which was good enough for best in the country per However, Omarion Hampton respectfully didn’t care about what the numbers said, and had a field day against the Hurricanes.

Hampton finished his night with 24 carries for 197 yards and a touchdown. Despite Chip Lindsey not using him enough in the first half, Hampton gashed the Canes every chance that he got for big yardage. We saw him push piles of defenders numerous times, fly down the middle for 10+ yards, and overall made Miami’s defense look like one of the worst in the country. Two things are true when looking at what transpired: Miami finally went up against one of the better running backs in the country, and also their competition prior to playing the Tar Heels was bad enough to make them look better than they were. It was a recipe for disaster for the Canes, but it made for an ideal night for the Heels.

UNC’s defense is legit

I know what you’re thinking: how is a defense that allowed Miami to total 482 yards and score 31 points considered legit? It took the Tar Heels scoring 41 points to win the game, which is reminiscent of previous Carolina seasons. The easy answer to this is that the Hurricanes scored a garbage time touchdown to throw the numbers, but the Heels’ defense in general also did a lot of things right. The combination of Miami’s talent and some bad penalties, however, made things way more interesting than they should’ve been.

Overall, UNC actually did some things that were really impressive. Gene Chizik was able to get pressure on Tyler Van Dyke while only rushing three or four guys, and it resulted in a couple of sacks and seven QB hits. They also logged six tackles for loss, and the Heels secondary did a really good job on Miami’s wide receivers in the second half. The Hurricanes failed to score in two quarters, and if we take away the garbage time touchdown, they really only scored seven points in the fourth quarter. For the first time in what feels like forever, it feels like UNC finally has a defense that is good enough to hang with some tough teams, but they do need to clean up the penalties if they want to stay in some of their tougher games down the stretch. If they can play clean, disciplined defense down the stretch, then there’s likely no limit to what this team can accomplish to finish out the rest of the season.