Miami Hurricanes run defense will be tested again versus 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 /

After being torched for 554 rushing yards last season against North Carolina, the Miami Hurricanes defense will be tested again at Keenan Stadium in Chapel Hill. North Carolina is averaging 194.3 rushing yards per game which is 37th nationally. The Tar Heels averaged 235.83 rushing yards per game in 2020 which was 11th.

North Carolina running back Michael Carter ran 24 times for 308 yards and two TDs and Javonte Williams 23 for 236 and three TDs in the Tar Heels victory over the Miami Hurricanes in 2020. Tennessee transfer Ty Chandler leads North Carolina in rushing this season with 484 yards and five touchdowns on 5.5 yards per carry.

Carter led North Carolina in rushing last season with 1,245 yards averaging eight yards per carry. Williams ran for 1,140 yards in 2020 averaging 7.3 YPC. Unlike last season with the two RB system, North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell helped Chandler carry the load on the ground.

Howell has 396 rushing yards on 79 carries averaging five YPC. The Miami Hurricanes have to be wary of both Chandler and Howell’s abilities to break big runs. Howell is fifth in the country with 21 runs of 10 yards or more and 14th with six carries of 20 or more yards. Chandler has 13 carries of 10 plus yards and four of 20 or more.

Miami is 48 nationally allowing 23 carries of 10 or more yards in 2021. The Hurricanes are 80th having been scorched for eight carries of 20 yards or more. Beyond that Miami has allowed only one carry of 30 plus yards which ranks 16th. Miami cannot allow North Carolina to create big chunks of yards on the ground.

Miami is 73rd nationally against FBS teams allowing 162 rushing yards per game and 72nd allowing 4.24 yards per carry. After allowing under four yards per carry in its first two games against FBS opponents this season, the Miami run defense has regressed in its last two contests against the top level of college football.

Michigan State and Virginia combined for 76 carries for 374 rushing yards for an average of 4.92 yards per carry with three touchdowns. Miami needs to limit the Tar Heels rushing attack how it did against Alabama and Appalachian State the first two weeks of the season, not how they were shredded by Michigan State and Virginia.

Next. Miami at UNC features two of ACCs top wide receivers. dark

The return of starting linebacker Keontra Smith who missed the last two games with a knee injury should Miami. Miami also has to tackle far better than it has this season. The Hurricanes are one of the worst teams in missed tackles nationally. Also, expect defensive tackle Leonard Taylor to receive more snaps upfront.