Following a 31-13 win over Minnesota, the No. 17 North Carolina football team will travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Panthers on Saturday night to open ACC play.
The Tar Heels last won at Pitt in 2017 — a 34-31 win that featured UNC quarterback Nathan Elliot and Pitt quarterback Ben DiNucci. On Saturday, UNC will need to prepare for signal callers Phil Jurkovec and Christian Veilleux, maintain strong communication on defense and exploit Pitt's weak offensive line.
Here are the keys on the defensive side of the ball to help UNC take down Pitt on the road:
Exploit Pitt’s offensive line
The Tar Heels’ defensive unit racked up nine sacks in UNC's first game against South Carolina. However, North Carolina has recorded just one sack in the past two games.
Pitt’s offensive line is statistically the worst in the Power Five in terms of allowed pressure on the quarterback. Per ESPN's David Hale, Pitt allowed pressure on 44.8 percent of quarterback dropbacks without a blitz — 34 percent more than the Panthers allowed last year.
“We’ve been juggling things up front,” Pitt head coach PatNarduzzi said in a Monday press conference. “You guys can see there’s a different starting offensive line every week. There’s some missing pieces there, and we haven’t done our job to do the protection part of it.”
North Carolina will look to exploit that inconsistency up front to disrupt quarterback Jurkovec and prove that the Tar Heels' first game against South Carolina wasn’t a fluke.
“We’ve just been working every day,” graduate defensive lineman Tomari Fox said in a Wednesday press conference. “We had something to prove, just like every other team in this league, and so we showed up and that’s our goal every single weekend is to show what we’ve been working on every single day since the last game of last season.”