Miami Hurricanes defensive line could pile up sacks against North Carolina

Sep 7, 2019; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; Mandatory Credit: Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 7, 2019; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; Mandatory Credit: Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports /

The Miami Hurricanes defensive line could be in for a big day against North Carolina.

After recording 10 sacks in the last two games, the Miami Hurricanes host North Carolina who is 120th in the country allowing 2.90 sacks per game. Miami had six sacks against Virginia Tech who is 91st protecting their passers and four last week in a 48-0 victory against Duke who ranks 124th in sacks allowed per game.

Jaelan Phillips and Quincy Roche form one of the best tandems of edge rushers in college football. Phillips has been dominant in the last three Miami Hurricanes games. In three wins, Phillips has 29 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss and six sacks. Phillips’ play has elevated him into a likely first or second-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Roche had one of his two best games for Miami last week against Duke. The graduate transfer from Temple had six tackles, three TFLs, 1.5 sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery Roche has been more consistent all season than Phillips. Roche has 41 tackles, 14 TFLs, four sacks, three fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles.

In losses, this season to Florida State, Virginia and Notre Dame, North Carolina allowed an average of 7.67 TFLs and five sacks per game. All-ACC linebacker Charles Snowden of Virginia had four sacks against North Carolina. The Miami defense has improved over the course of the season.

The ability for Miami to limit the North Carolina run will allow Phillips and Roche to focus on getting after Tar Heels QB Sam Howell. If Miami can pressure Howell as expected the Hurricanes should be able to limit big plays by North Carolina. The Tar Heels are a top 10 team producing big pass plays by almost every measure.

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Miami has been average this season preventing big plays. North Carolina will be the best offense they will play this season. Pressuring Howell and not allowing him time to throw will be critical for success for the Miami Hurricanes on Saturday. Playing North Carolina is the biggest Miami home game since 2017.