Coming into Saturday’s game against Syracuse, North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Drake Maye had been by no means bad this season. That being said, he had yet to have a true breakout game. Beyond that, he had also thrown a few more interceptions that normal. Well, all of that is no longer a storyline.
On Saturday, Maye went absolutely off. As UNC were crushing Syracuse 40-7, Maye was the main destructor, finishing with nearly 500 yards of total offense in the Tar Heels blowout win over the Orange.
Early on, this seemed like it was going to be a running-heavy game for the Tar Heels, as the ground game did a decent amount of damage during Carolina’s first two scoring drives. However, the second ended with Maye punching it in himself for a rushing TD. After that, things were off to the races.
Maye would end up throwing another three touchdowns in the air, as Carolina took a 27-point lead into halftime and only grew it from there. In total, Maye went 33-47 on passing attempts for 442 yards and three touchdowns, while he ran for 55 yards on 14 carries with one touchdown. That passing yard total is the sixth highest in school history, and one of the games ahead of it is also Maye. He is quite good.
As far as other potential nominees for player of the game, there was Maye’s top target on the day: Nate McCollum. The receiver finished with seven catches for 135 yards. He didn’t end up grabbing one of the three touchdown passes, but it was still another impressive outing from him. Also, a shoutout to Tez Walker, who finally got to make his Tar Heel debut, and caught six passes for 43 yards. Best wishes go out to Ben Kiernan, who was credited with a 17-yard rush, which came when he picked up a blocked punt and got the first down before getting obliterated.
UNC’s defense also put in a very solid day, holding Syracuse to just seven points and 221 yards of offense. Cedric Gray put in a good effort on that side of the ball, recording a team high eight tackles. That included one sack, while he also forced a fumble. Meanwhile, Alijah Huzzie and Amare Campbell came up with interceptions to round out the Heels’ three forced turnovers. Huzzie’s in particular was an absolute circus catch.
Drake Maye came into this season with a lot of hype. He’s been projected by a lot of places to be the second quarterback take in this spring’s NFL Draft, and is seen as someone with an outside shot at the Heisman and other awards. On Saturday against Syracuse, he showed exactly where all that hype came from.