Despite these obstacles, the Tar Heel defense looked solid against South Carolina. As a whole, the defense picked up three sacks and allowed only 270 yards of total offense.
When the Hurricanes took on then-No. 8 Florida in its first game of the season, the Miami offensive line gave up 10 sacks for 60 yards.
If North Carolina wants to have a chance of winning, the defensive line needs to put a similar type of pressure on Miami quarterback Jarren Williams.
Sam Howell off the leash
True first-year Howell was on a tight leash for a large portion of his first game as a quarterback at the college level.
In the first three quarters of the game against USC, the Tar Heels had completed eight drives, scoring just three field goals.
Those three field goals all came in the South Carolina red zone after the UNC offense struggled to complete passes in its trips to the USC red zone.
When Howell was let loose in the fourth quarter, the UNC offense came alive. Howell erupted for two touchdowns and 111 of his 245 total passing yards in the final quarter of the game.
If head coach Mack Brown and offensive coordinator Phil Longo will entrust Howell with the freedom to make plays starting on the opening drive, the Tar Heel offense has the potential to light up the Miami secondary.
Miami front seven
The front seven for the Hurricanes was projected to be one of the team’s strongest points heading into the season. The group returns several three-year starters in Shaquille Quarterman, Michael Pinckney and Zach McCloud.
Last season, Miami’s defense ranked No. 1 in the country in tackles for loss at 10.5 per game.
After a shaky first quarter against the Gators, the Miami defense began proving why they were regarded so highly as they forced three turnovers in the remaining three quarters of the game.
Meanwhile, North Carolina boasts one of the nation’s best running back cores in Michael Carter, Javonte Williams and Antonio Williams.
The trio combined for 232 rushing yards on 38 carries for an average of 6.1 yards per attempt against the Gamecocks.
Saturday’s game should prove to be a perfect example of an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object. Whichever team can dominate this matchup is sure to have a significantly easier time coming away with a win.
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