The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday January 27th

Speedy Miami offense a challenge for Tar Heels

Things are about to get a whole lot tougher for the North Carolina defense.

Gone are the squads the Tar Heels could physically overwhelm in the trenches. Gone are the teams that lacked the skill players necessary to keep defenders honest.

In their places stands an up-and-coming Miami offense fresh off a 41-point outing Saturday at Texas A&M.;

""Miami is explosive"" North Carolina coach Butch Davis said Monday. They've got more speed than probably any team that we'll play this entire season.""

Miami's big play capability was on display Saturday when the Hurricanes racked up nearly 400 total yards of offense against the Aggies. While the same kind of performance was seen from Miami on Aug. 28 against Charleston Southern" this one came on the road in a hostile environment.

And this time redshirt freshman quarterback Robert Marve threw for 212 yards and two touchdowns establishing himself as the clear-cut No. 1 ahead of Jacory Harris.

Along with his ability to find an open receiver downfield Marve is a threat to tuck the ball and run in event of a broken play.

The Tar Heels faced another dual-quarterback last week in Virginia Tech's Tyrod Taylor" and their success against the elusive Hokie could prove to be a valuable experience.

""(Miami's) got a quarterback that can run"" linebacker Mark Paschal said. I think that it will definitely have some carry over this week.""

Joining Marve in the backfield is running back Graig Cooper. Another elusive athlete" the sophomore rushed 16 times for 128 yards against the Aggies" including one 51-yard burst for a first-quarter touchdown.

""Their running backs are home run hitters" Davis said. With the slightest poor angle or the slightest bad arm tackling" obviously (Cooper) can take it to the house.""

The ability to bring down the opposition on the initial hit has been an issue for the UNC defense at times this season.

Against the Hokies"" that problem resulted in broken plays and Va. Tech first downs.

""We've missed a couple tackles and we're out of the right spot a couple of times" Paschal said. We're right there to make the plays" we just didn't make them.""

Against Miami" a missed tackle or blown assignment could hurt UNC more than it did last week.

Seven Miami players have broken off gains of 26 yards or more compared to just three for Va. Tech.

But as then-No. 5 Florida showed these Hurricanes aren't unstoppable.

In a 26-3 beat down Sept. 6" the Gators held the team to a paltry 140 total yards of offense and three drives of more than 20 yards.

North Carolina's ability to establish its defense in the early going could mark the difference between shutting the Hurricanes down and letting them run wild.

""They're young and inexperienced"" Paschal said. So hopefully we can get things going.""



Contact the Sports Editor at sports@unc.edu.


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