Miami Hurricanes at North Carolina: Game Preview

TALLAHASSEE OCTOBER 7: Running back Travis Homer
TALLAHASSEE OCTOBER 7: Running back Travis Homer /

After three straight close, late game victories the Miami Hurricanes travel to Chapel Hill, North Carolina to play the Tar Heels. Miami needs a convincing victory as a three-touchdown favorite.

A lot will be expected from the Miami Hurricanes as they face the 1-7 Tar Heels. North Carolina has been decimated by injuries this season. The Tar Heels have lost 16 players for the season due to injury.

North Carolina has been limited both offensively and defensively by the rash of injuries. They are last in the ACC allowing 34.9 points per game and 12th in scoring at 23.3 points per game.

The Tar Heels have been poor on both sides of the ball. They rank last in the conference in both total offense and defense. North Carolina is averaging 343.6 yards of offense. They allow 446 yards per game on defense.

The Miami Hurricanes offense has been consistently moving the football this season. They are second in the ACC in total yards. The Hurricanes are averaging 474 total yards this season.

The Hurricanes defense has not performed up to expectations in 2017. They have allowed 369 yards per game, ninth in the ACC. Their run defense has been particularly troubling. The Hurricanes are 11th in the ACC allowing 180.3 yards per game on the ground.

The Hurricanes have a chance for their run defense to get better against the Tar Heels. A quarter of North Carolina’s rushing yardage total for the season came during their only win of the season in week three against Old Dominion. In their other seven games, UNC is averaging only 115.8 rushing yards per game.

The game could come down to the running games. Miami’s 5.8 yards per carry ranks second in the ACC. North Carolina allows 4.6 YPC, that is the third worst in the conference. Miami has to assert the run against UNC. Over 60 percent of Miami’s offense has been through the air this season.

If the Hurricanes can get up big in Saturday, they might be able to give the backups Trayone Gray and DeeJay Dallas some run at running back. Dallas made the switch from wide receiver in training camp when starting running back Mark Walton was lost for the season after Florida State.

North Carolina has also been porous through the air. Opponents average 239.4 yards passing against the Tar Heels. That’s 12th in the ACC. The Hurricanes are likely to try and achieve balance.

North Carolina linebackers Cole Holcomb and Cayson Collins have been bright spots in a difficult season. Holcomb is fifth in the ACC averaging nine tackles per game. He has a total of 63 tackles per the ACC official website. Collins is averaging 6.3 for a total of 51. Defensive back Donnie Miles is averaging 6.8 tackles per game in five games played.

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  • Offensively, the Tar Heels have used both Chazz Surratt and Brandon Harris at quarterback. Surratt has been far more efficient. He has completed 58 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns and three interceptions. Harris has completed only 49.6 percent with one touchdown and eight interceptions.

    Jordon Brown and Michael Carter lead the Tar Heels ground attack. Brown has 371 yards and is averaging 4.4 yards per carry with three touchdowns. Brown is also involved in the passing game. He has 20 receptions for 125 yards. He is one of five Tar Heel receivers with double figures in receptions.

    Carter has 403 yards and seven touchdowns and is averaging 6.0 yards per carry. Surratt and Harris have also combined for 238 yards rushing. He is one of the Tar Heels who will be out on Saturday.

    Anthony Ratliff-Williams gives North Carolina a deep threat in the passing game and stellar kick returner. He is averaging 17.3 yards per reception with three touchdowns and 25.5 yards per kickoff return with one touchdown.

    There are a lot of opportunities for Miami to have success against North Carolina. The ground game should be solid on Saturday. Travis Homer should be over 100 total yards for the third straight game.

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    Defensively the Miami run defense has to get healthy. The next two weeks against Virginia Tech and Notre Dame are going to present a challenge to the Miami defense that has failed to stop the run. This is the week to work on rectifying that.