Sophomore Travis Homer, however, has taken over the role of lead back in stride. Against Georgia Tech two weeks ago, Homer gained 170 yards on the ground on only 20 carries. He followed it up with 20 carries for 95 yards against Syracuse last week.
On the year, Homer has averaged close to 7.3 yards a carry and put up 472 yards. He has also scored five touchdowns in his last five games for the potent Miami offense.
Junior quarterback Malik Rosier is no slouch on the ground, either. Rosier has run for 191 yards and two scores on the season. Expect Miami to run the ball early and often against a 112-ranked Tar Heel run defense that has allowed 223.4 rush yards per game.
Offense in control
Not only is Miami running the ball effectively, but Rosier has done a solid job quarterbacking this team. The junior has 14 passing touchdowns this season and has only turned the ball over three times. Rosier has collected 1,715 yards through the air this season, and he, along with his running backs, lead a strong offense.
Rosier has been at his best the last two games, combining for 641 yards and three touchdown passes. Miami will enter Kenan Memorial Stadium 21st in the nation in total offense, averaging 474 yards per game.
The Hurricanes have scored 33.3 points per game, which is not a good sign for a reeling North Carolina defense that has allowed at least 20 points to each of its opponents this season. Not to mention, Hurricane senior Michael Badgley is one of the best kickers in the country. Badgley enters the game 11-12 on field goals, including a 50-yarder in Miami’s season opener.
The Tar Heels — who already have their hands full — will have to keep senior receiver Braxton Berrios on its radar. Berrios leads the team with 337 yards and the speedy receiver is tied for third in the ACC with five touchdown catches.
Great in the trenches
Despite its formidable offense, Miami’s most impactful unit might be its big-play defense. The Hurricanes are coming into their matchup with the Tar Heels with 21 sacks through six games. Senior defensive lineman Trent Harris leads the way with four sacks.
The Hurricanes are averaging 3.5 sacks a game, good for third-best in the nation. Miami’s pass rush gave Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey fits last week, as the junior threw four interceptions on the day.
Not only are the Hurricanes adept at stopping the pass, but they’ve done an outstanding job of producing negative plays in the opponents run game. The Hurricanes have 52 total tackles for loss, amounting to 8.7 a game — which is also third best in the nation.
With the way the North Carolina offense has looked recently — only picking up 38 points in its last four contests — it looks like it will be a long day for the Tar Heels.