Before the season started, North Carolina’s slated home contest against Notre Dame likely caught the eyes of many who saw UNC’s football schedule.
The Fighting Irish were tabbed the No. 5 team in the country and hoped to make the program’s third-ever appearance in the College Football Playoff. But several issues, including a season-ending injury to starting quarterback Tyler Buchner, led to Notre Dame dropping two of its first three games.
Despite Notre Dame heading to Chapel Hill with a losing record, head coach Mack Brown understands the challenge the Fighting Irish present.
“It’s the same old Notre Dame — they’re going to run the ball and be physical,” he said. “They’re not going to make many mistakes and they’re really strong on both lines of scrimmage.”
Here are three keys for North Carolina to defeat Notre Dame and enter conference play undefeated:
Establish the line of scrimmage
Against Georgia State, the Tar Heels struggled to get the run game going.
In the first half, North Carolina managed just 41 rushing yards and struggled to open up holes within the Panthers’ front seven. With graduate offensive lineman Spencer Rolland returning from injury, UNC will look to reignite its ground attack.
“This biggest area where I’d like to see improvement (on the offensive line) is in our first and second down execution in the run game,” Offensive Coordinator Phil Longo said. “That was our focus last week, and it’ll be our focus this week as well.”