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Analysis: Depth at running back provides balance for potent UNC offense

Junior Running Back junior Michael Carter (8) runs down the field in Kenan Memorial on Saturday Nov. 23, 2019. UNC beat Mercer 56-7.

The North Carolina rushing attack is going to be a vital part of the offense’s success this year. Led by the returning tandem of senior Michael Carter and junior Javonte Williams, the backs are looking to provide major production just like last year.

Carter and Williams have both been selected to the Doak Walker Award watch list for best running back in the country. The duo rushed for 1,936 rushing yards last season, which was the most for a running back pair from UNC since 1993. The running back group as a whole averaged 188.2 yards a game last year, which accounted for around 40 percent of the team’s offensive production.

Michael Carter

Carter was named to the 2020 Preseason All-ACC Team at the all-purpose position after a season in which he racked up a total of 1,623 all-purpose yards and five total touchdowns. He finished fourth in the conference in all-purpose yards and fifth in rushing yards last season. Carter’s ability as a dual-threat back also landed him on the 2020 Paul Hornung Award watch list for the most versatile player.

Carter had his best game last year against Mercer, when he ran for 159 yards and three touchdowns on just nine attempts in the blowout victory.

Javonte Williams

Williams is looking to build off a breakout sophomore season in which he rushed for 933 yards and five touchdowns to finish seventh in the conference in rushing yards. The junior provides a great change of pace as more of a power running back to the 1-2 combo in the backfield. His ability to find the end zone once UNC gets inside the 10-yard line is very valuable, as four of his five rushing scores last year were for 10 or fewer yards.

Williams’ best game last year came against Georgia Tech. He ran for 144 yards and a touchdown to put the Tar Heels up by 23 with less than four minutes to play, essentially sealing the win over the Yellow Jackets.

Supporting cast

Sophomore back Josh Henderson will also be a crucial part of the unit’s success. He had 127 yards on 18 carries last year, but he really learned the nuances of the college game on the sidelines and in the film room last season. His growth should allow for him to be a viable third option.

Junior British Brooks is another back who could see reps this year. Brooks saw action in all 11 games last season, mostly on special teams, but was also able to get in three rushes for 10 yards and his first collegiate touchdown against Mercer.

After exceeding expectations as a group last year, the running back room is expected to provide a sense of balance to one of the nation’s most potent offenses.


@DTHSports |

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