CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - AUGUST 31: Sam Howell #7 of the North Carolina Tar Heels hands the ball off to teammate Antonio Williams #24 of the North Carolina Tar Heels during the Belk College Kickoff game at Bank of America Stadium on August 31, 2019 in

Streeter Lecka / Staff

A Prime-time Showdown for the Tar Heels

Sharon Thorsland
September 06, 2019 - 1:37 pm

North Carolina is undefeated! Sure, they're only 1-0, but last week's season-opening win over South Carolina meant a lot for the Tar Heels, who had won just five games total over the past two seasons. Freshman quarterback Sam Howell came up big in the fourth quarter once they let him start throwing the ball, and there is plenty of reason for optimism in Chapel Hill. But now it might be time for a reality check. The Miami Hurricanes come to town Saturday, bringing with them a new head coach in Manny Diaz and an elite defense. They've had two weeks to stew on their penalty-filled loss to Florida, and are looking to open ACC play with a win.


The strength of this Miami team is its defense. The front seven is outstanding, led by senior linebackers Shaquille Quarterman and Michael Pickney. Defensive end Jonathan Garvin is a beast on the outside, and the secondary is aggressive. with hard-hitting safety Amari Carter leading the way. They'll no doubt look to make life difficult for UNC's Howell, who has the green light from coaches to air it out in this game. Just please don't give the Canes a reason to pull out the infamous Turnover Chain! 


Miami also features a freshman at quarterback – redshirt Jarren Williams looked pretty good against the Gators, throwing a touchdown with no interceptions. But he also coughed up two fumbles and getting sacked a whopping 10 times! Of course, some of that is the young offensive line's fault. So it's safe to assume the Canes will try to get the ball in the hands of running back DeeJay Dallas a lot. He's a big play threat that can gash a defense for big gains. And we all know that defending the run has not been UNC's strength for a long, long, long time.


When Williams does throw the ball, he's got some really good receivers – junior Jeff Thomas has blazing speed, and 6'3 tight end Brevin Jordan is a matchup nightmare. Heels safety Myles Wolfolk had two picks against the Gamecocks, but he and the UNC defense will have their hands full trying to slow this group down.


After getting routed by the Canes 47-10 in a prime time game last season, the Heels would like to get a little revenge on Saturday. They've upset Miami in Chapel Hill before, starting with that crazy last second win back in 2004, and they own a 5-3 record against the Canes at Kenan Stadium. So it's not crazy to think they could pull off a win this weekend. Plus, Mack Brown is 8-2 in home openers with UNC. Here's to making it 9-2. Go Heels!   

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