North Carolina vs. Miami: Complete Game Preview
The North Carolina Tar Heels (4-2, 1-1 in the ACC) travel to Miami to play the Hurricanes (4-2, 3-0) on Saturday in a Coastal Division matchup.
North Carolina is riding a three-game winning streak, while the Hurricanes have won three of their last four games.
The Tar Heels are a totally different different team this year, as new head coach Larry Fedora adopted a spread offense and changed the defense to a 4-2-5 scheme.
So far, so good, as North Carolina's offense is scoring 44 points per game—No. 9 in the country.
Miami on the other hand is loaded with freshman—41 to be exact—and it showed when they lost to Kansas State and Notre Dame by a combined score of 95-16.
Here is the complete preview of North Carolina vs. Miami.
Who: North Carolina vs. Miami
When: Saturday, 2:30 PM ET
Where: Miami Gardens, Fla.
Stadium: Sun Life Stadium (75,540)
Radio: WQAM 560 AM, WELE 1380 AM
Internet Stream: Canes All Access
Depth Chart for Miami
Position: Starter, Backup (as of Oct. 8, 2012)
QB: Stephen Morris, Ryan Williams
FB: Maurice Hagens, Sean Harvey
RB: Mike James and Duke Johnson, Eduardo Clements
TE: Clive Walford, Dyron Dye, Asante Cleveland
WR: Phillip Dorsett, Kendal Thompkins or Robert Lockhart Jr.
WR: Allen Hurns, Davon Johnson
WR: Rashawn Scott, Herb Waters
LT: Malcolm Bunche, Hunter Wells
LG: Jon Feliciano, Jeremy Lewis
C: Shane McDermott, Jared Wheeler
RG: Brandon Linder, Daniel Isidora
RT: Ereck Flowers or Seantrel Henderson
DE: Anthony Chickillo, Jelani Hamilton
DT: Corey King, Earl Moore, Dequan Ivery
DT: Olsen Pierre, Darius Smith or Luther Robinson
DE: Shayon Green, Tyriq McCord
OLB: Eddie Johnson, Thurston Armbrister, Gabe Terry
MLB: Denzel Perryman, Jimmy Gaines or Raphael Kirby
OLB: Gionni Paul, Tyrone Cornelius or Nantambu-Akil Fentress
CB: Ladarius Gunter, Thomas Finnie or Tracy Howard
CB: Brandon McGee, Antonio Crawford
S: A.J. Highsmith, Vaughn Telemaque, Rayshawn Jenkins
S: Deon Bush, Kacy Rodgers II
P: Dalton Botts, Jake Wieclaw
FG: Jake Wieclaw, Matt Goudis
KO: Jake Wieclaw, Matt Goudis
H: Dalton Botts, Ryan Williams
LS: Paul Kelly, Jimmy Gaines
SS: Paul Kelly, Paul Kelly
PR: Phillip Dorsett, Duke Johnson
KR: Phillip Dorsett, Duke Johnson
Out: Curtis Porter (upper extremity), Rayshawn Jenkins (upper extremity), Olsen Pierre (upper extremity), Ben Jones (lower extremity)
Out for the Season: Ramon Buchanan (lower extremity), Malcolm Lewis (lower extremity), Sean McNally (lower extremity)
Depth Chart for North Carolina
Position: Starter, Backup (as of Oct. 8, 2012)
QB: Bryn Renner, Marquise Williams
TB: Giovani Bernard, A.J. Blue or Romar Morris
WR: Erik Highsmith, Mark McNeill
WR: Sean Tapley, Roy Smith
WR: Quinshad Davis, Jheranie Boyd
TE: Eric Ebron, Jack Tabb, Sean Fitzpatrick
LT: Tyson Chandler, Quincy McKinney
LG: Jonathan Cooper, Peyton Jenest
C: Russell Bodine, Peyton Jenest
RG: Travis Bond, Landon Turner or David Collins
RT: Brennan Williams, Nick Appel
DE: Kareem Martin, Jessie Rogers
T: Sylvester Williams, Ethan Farmer
NT: Tim Jackson, Shawn Underwood, Devonte Brown
Bandit: Dion Guy, Shakeel Rashad, Norkeithus Otis
Will LB: Tommy Heffernan, Travis Hughes
Mike LB: Kevin Reddick, P.J. Clyburn
RAM: Gene Robinson, Pete Mangum
CB: Jabari Price, Alex Dixon
FS: Tre Boston, Kameron Jackson
SS: Sam Smiley, Darien Rankin
CB: Tim Scott, T.J. Jiles
P: Tommy Hibbard
PK: Casey Barth, Thomas Moore
H: Tommy Hibbard
LS: Parker Thomas, Conor Fry
PR: Giovani Bernard, Roy Smith, Erik Highsmith
KR: Sean Tapley, Romar Morris
Questionable: Connor Gonet (undisclosed)
What Happened to the Hurricanes Last Week?
Last weekend the Miami Hurricanes went up to Chicago and got manhandled by the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, 42-3. The Hurricanes defense was shredded for 587 yards by an unimpressive Irish offense.
Heading into the game, the Irish averaged just 351 yards of total offense per game and scored just 53 points combined in wins over Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue.
Miami on the other hand went into the game on an offensive tear, averaging 41 points over its three-game winning streak. That was just a memory though as Notre Dame held Miami to just 285 yards of total offense and just three points.
The Hurricanes offense looked completely lost on the field, dropping passes and making mental mistakes all game long.
Not taking anything away from the Irish—they completely wiped the Hurricanes clean.
What Happened to the Tar Heels Last Week?
North Carolina welcomed perennial powerhouse Virginia Tech to Chapel Hill on Saturday and completely overwhelmed the Hokies, 48-34.
Tar Heel running back sensation Giovani Bernard ran 23 times for 262 yards and a touchdown, as North Carolina racked up 339 yards on the ground.
Quarterback Bryn Renner was effective, completing 17-of-30 passes for 194 yards and a touchdown.
He would also punch one in on the ground in the first quarter.
What It Means for Both Teams
Since the Tar Heels are not eligible to play in the ACC Championship, it really doesn't mean as much to them as it normally would. Don't get me wrong, North Carolina is looking to beat any ACC team and would like nothing more than to end the season with the best record in the conference.
The Hurricanes on the other hand can separate themselves from the pack even more, especially if Duke loses to Virginia Tech on Saturday.
Miami is first in the Coastal Division at 3-0, while Duke is 2-0 and Virginia Tech is 1-1.
Key Player(s) for the Hurricanes: Defense
So what else is new?
The Hurricanes defense will once again be the key component if Miami wants to beat North Carolina this weekend. Unfortunately for the Hurricanes, there hasn't been a team this season they have been able to slow down.
Last week in a loss to Notre Dame, Miami gave up 587 yards of total offense, including 376 yards on the ground.
Overall the Hurricanes are ranked No.118 (out of 120 schools) in total defense, giving up a rotten 510 yards per game.
This week, Miami will have to face a potent offense in North Carolina that can kill you through the air as well as the ground.
Tar Heel quarterback Bryn Renner has already thrown 15 touchdowns this season—fifth in the country—while Giovani Bernard is coming off a 262-yard performance against Virginia Tech.
The one-two combination of Renner and Bernard will cost the Hurricanes the game if they can not figure out how to slow them down.
Key Player for the Tar Heels: Giovani Bernard
Tar Heel running back Giovani Bernard was limited earlier in the season with an injury, so his stats weren't as eye-popping as one would expect.
Before last week's game against Virginia Tech, Bernard had just 29 carries for 213 yards and four touchdowns. He missed both games against Wake Forest and Louisville—only two losses of the year for the Tar Heels.
Now after watching him on Saturday against the Hokies, you can say Bernard is back as he rushed 23 times for 262 yards and a touchdown.
The game couldn't get here soon enough for Bernard, as he now gets to run against one of the worst defenses in the country.
If he gets another 200-plus yards on the ground, UNC should win this game.
The Hurricanes Will Win If...
The Hurricanes will win this game if the defense has improved about 175 percent from last week and the offense plays like they have in the four games they won this season.
I am trying to stay positive about the Hurricanes chances, but North Carolina is extremely loaded with talent on the offensive side, and Miami's defense is ranked No.118 in the country.
You do the math.
Unlike every other team Miami has faced this season, the Tar Heels produce a challenge running and passing the ball.
If the Miami defense can figure out a way to stop the dual-threat of North Carolina, I believe the offense can pull out the victory.
North Carolina's defensive backfield was burnt last week against the Hokies, as Virginia Tech racked up 354 yards in the air.
If Miami quarterback Stephen Morris can air it out like he did against Georgia Tech and North Carolina State, the Hurricanes have a chance, regardless of how badly the defense plays.
The Tar Heels Will Win If...
The Tar Heels will win if the offense continues to produce huge amount of yards like it has the last couple of weeks and the passing defense improves from last week.
In a win over Idaho, the Tar Heels racked up 575 yards of total offense—287 of them coming on the ground.
Last week against the Hokies, North Carolina racked up 533 more yards, including rushing for 339 yards.
On the defensive side, North Carolina will need to perform a little better in pass defense than they did against Hokies quarterback Logan Thomas.
Thomas lit up the Tar Heel defense with 354 yards passing and two touchdowns.
Miami has a more prolific passing offense and could potentially shred a questionable Tar Heel defensive backfield.
If North Carolina plays half-way decent defense, their offense will score enough to beat Miami.
This is actually a lot harder to predict than you think.
All signs point to pick North Carolina, as they have a great scoring offense (44 points per game, No. 9 in the country) as well as a defense that gives up just 17.8 points per game.
The Hurricanes on the other hand are averaging just 30.2 points per game while giving up 34.7 per game.
So far this season, North Carolina has beaten Virginia Tech, Elon, Idaho and East Carolina, while losing to Wake Forest and Louisville on the road.
The Hurricanes have beaten Boston College, Bethune-Cookman, North Carolina State and Georgia Tech. Their only two losses came to Kansas State (5-0, No. 6 in the AP Poll) and Notre Dame (5-0, No 7).
The main difference between the two schools?
Tar Heel running back Giovani Bernard was out in North Carolina's only two losses this year.
As he proved last week, he is back and probably better then ever.
Prediction: UNC 45, Miami 42