UNC defensive trials
The Tar Heels’ defense may be in trouble when it comes to handling the Wake Forest offense on Friday.
During Monday’s media availability, Brown announced that Patrice Rene, a starting cornerback for UNC, was out for the season due to a torn ACL suffered during the Miami game. This will leave junior Greg Ross as the No. 1 corner.
The cornerbacks will need to step up in the face of Wake Forest’s tall receiving corps, like 6-foot-3 Sage Surratt, brother of UNC linebacker Chazz Surratt, and 6-foot-5 Scotty Washington. The latter was named ACC Receiver of the Week after posting career-highs with 158 receiving yards and two touchdown catches during the Demon Deacons’ 41-21 win over Rice.
Washington leads Wake Forest with 204 receiving yards and three touchdown catches this season. He’s tied for second in receptions with 11.
The Demon Deacons have averaged 356.5 yards in the air after just two games, and currently have the No. 12 passing offense in college football. They currently lead the conference with 546 total yards of offense per game.
North Carolina’s starting center Nick Polino is also out indefinitely, and underwent surgery on Wednesday. He sustained a lower body injury in the first quarter last Saturday.
Howell vs. Newman
On Friday, keep an eye on the quarterback match-up between UNC first-year Sam Howell and redshirt junior Jamie Newman.
Defense has not been the Demon Deacons' strong suit this season, specifically through the air. They’re ranked No. 123 in the nation in passing yards allowed, conceding an average of 335 yards per game thus far.
This could give Howell room to play more to his wide receivers, like Dazz Newsome and Dyami Brown. Coming into the season, it was expected that Brown would lean on his veteran running backs to ease the pressure for Howell; however, the opposite has been true so far. He beat an SEC defense with 245 passing yards and slipped past Miami for 274 yards.
Newsome currently has 120 receiving yards and one touchdown, while Brown is at two touchdowns and 149 receiving yards.
Howell has balanced handing off to the running backs and throwing to the wide receivers, especially for late touchdowns.
While Miami was able to contain UNC for three quarters, its persistent rushing attack gave the Tar Heels an edge in the fourth quarter, something that will also be crucial against Wake Forest.
For the Demon Deacons, Newman’s rise to the starting quarterback spot was unexpected. After Sam Hartman broke his leg during last year’s game against Syracuse, Newman stepped into the starting role for the final four games of the season.
He led the Demon Deacons to beat No. 14 NC State, 27-23, and Duke, 59-7, during that time, ending the season with a 7-6 record and a win over Memphis in the Birmingham Bowl.
In four games last year, Newman tallied more than 1,000 passing yards. Through two games in 2019, Newman has thrown for 713 yards and six touchdowns. Surratt and Washington have carried the bulk of the wide receiver work with two and three touchdowns, respectively.
With both teams looking to remain undefeated, the game will likely come down to the offenses, especially with the two quarterbacks leading the charge for their respective teams.
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