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UNC faces struggling Miami Team

by Sharon Thorsland

Virginia Tech v North Carolina

After an ugly loss to Notre Dame at home in week four, North Carolina is back on track after a blowout win over Virginia Tech last week. That improves to Tar Heels to 4-1 on the season. Next up is a trip to Coral Gables to take on Miami (2-2), who started the season with a new head coach and high expectations. Kick-off is set for 4:00 Saturday on WBT.

The Hurricanes were ranked 16th in preseason polls but after a hot start have cooled off considerably They’ve dropped their last two games, including an embarrassing home loss to Middle Tennessee State before their bye last week. So what’s been the problem? The Miami offense has been out of sync and hasn’t been able to get the passing game going. Sophomore quarterback Tyler Van Dyke has thrown for over 800 yards but has just four touchdowns and three interceptions. He was benched last game in favor of Jake Garcia but will get the start Saturday. Van Dyke’s receiving corps has been inconsistent and banged up. His top targets are Michael Redding and tight end Will Mallory. Sophomore Key’Shawn Smith is a big play threat averaging over 17 yards a catch. He’s also returned a pair of kickoffs for touchdowns.


Miami’s running attack is led by Henry Parrish Jr., who has 365 yards and four touchdowns on the season. And as he goes, so go the Hurricanes – Parrish has averaged nearly 109 yards per game in Miami’s two wins but just 71 in the two losses. Can the Tar Heels keep him under 100 yards? They did a pretty darn good job against the Hokies last week, although we all know that UNC usually has a hard time stopping the run. They’re also allowing 33 points and 450 yards per game this season, so the Hurricanes are probably looking at this as a “get-right” game for their offense.

On the other side of the ball, Miami has been pretty stingy giving up just 20.5 points per game. They have been inconsistent though in generating pressure up front with just 10 sacks on the season. Linebacker Corey Flagg Jr. is the anchor of the defense, he leads the team in tackles and has one sack. The Hurricanes have five interceptions, two of them from Kamren Kinchens, and forced a pair of fumbles. The problem is they’ve been giving up plenty of big plays, including four of at least 68 yards to MTSU. They rank 115th nationally and last in the ACC allowing 10 passes of at least 30 yards. That bodes well for the Tar Heels, who feature one of the most potent offenses in the country led by quarterback Drake Maye, who has thrown 19 touchdowns and just one interception.