Butch Davis and the Tar Heels started last season with a 7-2 record before dropping three of their last four games.

Bowl in hand, UNC looks to avoid ’08 repeat

Last year, lost three of last four

After reeling off three straight victories, two of those against top-15 opponents, North Carolina has assured itself of its second straight winning season and bowl eligibility.

But given what happened in the final games of last season, coach Butch Davis and the Tar Heels are planning on closing out this season like they closed out Saturday’s 33-24 victory against Miami.


Football

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UNC leads Miami 20-7 at half

Thanks to two second-quarter interceptions by Kendric Burney, North Carolina went into the locker room with a 20-7 halftime lead against No. 14 Miami.Burney took the latest pick 77 yards the other way for a touchdown with less than a minute to go in the half. His first interception also led to a field goal.


Austin checks in to discuss life at the bottom of the pile

Defensive tackle Marvin Austin is one of the biggest personalities on North Carolina’s football team in addition to being one of the team’s biggest bodies.The junior lineman, who already has been projected to be a force in the NFL by draft experts, chatted with SportSaturday Editor David Reynolds about a variety of topics, including dancing, dreadlocks and music.


The North Carolina defense utilized the zone blitz in a 19-6 win over the Blue Devils. DTH File Photo

Tar Heels zoning in with defense

On a third-and-six for quarterback Thaddeus Lewis and Duke’s offense, UNC’s Marvin Austin backpedaled into coverage, identified where Lewis intended to throw and made a diving leap to swat away his pass attempt.And while the agile play would stand out no matter who was playing defense, Austin’s size and positioning at the snap made it spectacular.


UNC seniors prepare for Kenan ?nale and last tests

As the saying goes, nobody quite does it like a senior.But along with that phrase goes another word— temporary.That’s one this year’s seniors on North Carolina’s football team learned quickly in the days leading up to their home finale against No. 12 Miami.


Offensive line shifts on ?eld to cope with season’s trials

Alan Pelc’s understanding of  Cam Holland’s position didn’t begin by walking a mile in his shoes — just stepping in when Holland lost one.“I played one snap at center against UConn,” Pelc, a left guard, said. “My first snap at center.” But Pelc’s education has only accelerated since injuries forced him to fill in at center.


North Carolina senior E.J. Wilson has recorded 28 tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble this season. DTH File/Will Cooper

UNC defense lives up to the hype as top unit in the ACC

North Carolina’s defense returned nine starters from last season, and has started eight of them. But this defense looks nothing like last year’s.Whereas the 2008 defense gave up the second most total yardage in the ACC, this year’s defense has been fixated on one thing.Domination.


Casey Barth, North Carolina’s sophomore kicker, has made nine straight field goals. DTH/Phong Dinh

Casey Barth kicks into high gear with nine straight successful attempts

After missing a 32-yard field goal against Georgia Tech earlier this season, Casey Barth was searching for answers as much as his critics were.The sophomore place-kicker had made a lackluster four of seven field goal attempts on the season, and he was already referencing advice his brother, Connor, had provided about his own slump.


Miami QB Jacory Harris ready to test UNC secondary

“Heart Attack” isn’t a nickname usually mentioned in the same breath as a top-tier quarterback.But in the case of No. 12 Miami’s Jacory Harris, it hasn’t been his own team’s coaches and coordinators for whom he has been raising the stress level.It’s been opposing defenses.


Junior running back Ryan Houston ran for a career-high 164 yards in UNC’s last game. DTH File/Phong Dinh

Houston shoulders rushing attack

Immediately after Saturday’s 19-6 victory against Duke, in which he rushed 37 times, North Carolina running back Ryan Houston said he was ready for even more of the workload.But Monday, after having time to feel some of the damage inflicted upon him, Houston admitted his body was feeling some of the effects.


Quarterback T.J. Yates and the Tar Heels are coming off perhaps their biggest win of the season. DTH File/Andrew Dye

Tar Heels fear complacency

Butch Davis has addressed the steep learning curve facing his young football team on several occasions.But if last Thursday’s win against Virginia Tech is any indication, North Carolina is proving to be a quick study — at least when it comes to potentially heartbreaking losses.


Junior receiver Greg Little (8) recorded 265 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns. Photo by Margaret Cheatham Williams from the DTH Archives.

Football: Tar Heels find time in Blacksburg

The fourth quarter of Thursday’s upset victory against No. 14 Virginia Tech contained plenty of good signs for the rest of North Carolina’s season, and one of them was the ability to simply possess the football.The Tar Heels effectively played keep-away in the late stages, as the offense controlled the ball for 11 minutes and 15 seconds of that 15-minute quarter.


North Carolina took a commanding 24-6 lead but allowed the Seminoles to come back in a 30-27 loss. DTH/Andrew Dye

Football: UNC falls with chance in spotlight

It took years of planning to bring football to Chapel Hill on Thursday night, and for a while, it was exactly the showcase North Carolina had arranged.Picturesque Kenan Stadium was at the center of the college football world, thanks to ESPN coverage. Tar Heel legends dotted the sidelines, and the current generation was dominating on the field.Then Florida State crashed that party, and UNC might have lost its chance to turn around its season.


North Carolina takes on Florida State Thursday in the first Thursday night home football game in school history. DTH/Andrew Dye

Football: Spotlight on UNC brings high stakes

When television cameras start rolling for North Carolina’s first Thursday night home game against Florida State, the University and the football program will have the national spotlight.What remains to be seen is exactly what they will do with it.Thursday night’s game provides an opportunity for UNC to either solidify its reputation as a football program or affirm what detractors have said for years.