Kyle Wright was efficient last week and had a solid performance. Wright did throw two interceptions last week, and he must have a turnover-free game against the Tar Heels. T.J. Yates has struggled in the past two games, throwing zero touchdowns and five interceptions. Nevertheless, Yates has nine touchdown passes on the season.
Miami’s offensive line continues to do a good job of protecting Kyle Wright in the pocket. The group must be a little more disciplined after committing multiple penalties against Duke. UNC’s unit has allowed 15 sacks on the season and has a tough task going up against the Miami defensive line.
Graig Cooper continues to improve as the season progresses. He surpassed the 100-yard mark and had a key fourth quarter touchdown last week. UNC’s Anthony Elzy and Ryan Houston have split carries the past few games. Houston leads the team with just 48.5 yards per game on the ground.
Sam Shields is a big factor in the passing game if he can get on the field. Kayne Farquharson had a breakout game with his first touchdown of the year. North Carolina has a talented group of receivers. Hakeem Nicks has 337 receiving yards and three touchdowns while Brooks Foster and Brandon Tate have combined for five touchdowns.
The Hurricanes defensive line has played strongly the past two games. Vegas Franklin has been a surprise player on the line while Eric Moncur has stepped up lately with sacks in key situations. North Carolina needs a big performance from senior standout Hilee Williams, who has a team-leading five sacks and 8.5 tackles for a loss.
Tavares Gooden continues to play well at middle linebacker. He registered 14 tackles and a fumble recovery against Duke. North Carolina’s Durell Mapp has recorded 43 tackles and is one of the leaders on the defense. The Tar Heels have allowed opponents to rush for 154 yards per game.
Miami’s secondary has played well overall the past three games, but it was burned again on some big plays against Duke. The group allowed two passing touchdowns of 31 and 41 yards. North Carolina lost starting cornerback Kendric Williams for the season last week. Safety Deunta Williams does lead the team with two interceptions.
Can this be the week for a Miami special team’s touchdown? It has been quite awhile. The last special teams touchdown came on a blocked punt against North Carolina in 2005. The Tar Heels have speedster Brandon Tate, who has returned one punt for a touchdown while place kicker Connor Barth is 4-for-4 in field goal attempts.
Saturday’s game will be nationally televised on ESPN2 and broadcast on WVUM 90.5 FM. The game begins at noon.
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