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UNC Football Player of the Game: Michael Carter

The young tailback ran all over the Catamounts as the Heels dominated.

Western Carolina v North Carolina Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

On Senior Day in Kenan Stadium, a lot of things went right as the Heels dominated the Western Carolina Catamounts 65-10. Contrary to the theme of the day, though, it was a freshman who stole the show, specifically running back Michael Carter. Carter has had an up-and-down season after an incredible start, but yesterday was a definite high point in his career as he carried the ball a career-high 16 times for 103 yards and a touchdown.

Carter’s 6.4 yards per carry were his third most of the season, after his coming out party against Cal (8.5) and his incredible performance against Virginia (12.1). He crossed the 100-yard threshold for the second time this season, the first having come against Virginia. The most impressive part of Carter’s statline, however, was his consistency. In the other two games in which Carter impressed, he had at least one extremely explosive run that buoyed his numbers: a 47-yarder against Cal and a 56-yard run against Virginia. Against Western Carolina, Carter’s longest run was 22 yards, which is indicative of his consistent yardage gain and Western’s general inability to stop him on the ground. Every one of his runs went for positive yardage, and 11 out of his 16 carries went for 4 or more yards. That is backbreaking on a defense.

Another impressive aspect of Carter’s day (as well as that of his running mate Jordon Brown) was their constant breaking of tackles. Rarely did either back go down on first contact, and in the case of Carter, he often turned contact into extra yards, either by pushing through defenders or bouncing off them, turning good gains into first downs and more. On his 4-yard touchdown run, Carter put his head down, met a defender, and bullied him backwards to get into the end zone. He ran like a man who would not be denied, and for the most part, he wasn’t.

Carter has had freshman moments this season, but along with that he has shown tremendous talent and potential. He will look to have the same success against NCSU’s vaunted defensive line that he had against Western Carolina to cap off an uneven, but ultimately very successful freshman year.