For Inside Carolina, I’m Taylor Vippolis and this is the Insider Rundown, reporting on what I’m hearing regarding UNC Football.
After 11 games with little to no improvement it feels like we know what the UNC defense is at the moment and that is one of the worst defenses in the country with the stats to back it. Of the 131 FBS teams, scoring defense ranks 104th and overall defense ranks 121st. It is believed by those in the know that the defensive line causes most problems on this side of the ball. It’s a defense that has 15 sacks in 11 games, bottom in the ACC and 118th in the NCAA by a considerable margin, and an inability to apply pressure from UNC’s four fronts has been a major concern.
I don’t think UNC’s high school is great by far, but you’ll have a hard time finding players who can cover for as long as they’re asked to cover with quarterbacks who have all day to cover throw. Then, in the running game, it’s very rare to see a defender on that UNC team hit the player opposite right at the line of scrimmage with no win or a tackle for a loss. Averaging 3.8 tackles lost per game, that’s the second-worst in the country, behind only Minnesota. When defenseman DeAndre Boykins has more tackles for loss (3.5) than any Tar Heel defender not currently playing named Kaimon Rucker, that’s a bad result waiting to happen.
Similarly, UNC’s offensive line loses at this attack point far too often for the coaching staff’s liking, leading to red-zone struggles. The offense was balanced in their game and challenging within the 20, but the big boys’ pressure up front was lacking to gain the hard yards. Last week, UNC earned just 14 points from its five trips to the red zone, compared to Georgia Tech, who was perfect and scored three touchdowns in its three trips to the red zone. That shaped the game above all.
This UNC team has shown they can sometimes win with physicality this season, and will need that to beat an NC State roster coming to Chapel Hill to smack the tar heels in the mouth. Staff believe the Wolfpack defense is the best they’ll see all year, and it’s a defense that prides itself on playing violence.
The game will be played on Black Friday, but UNC is hoping for some green at Kenan Stadium. All reports point to wide receiver Antoine Green returning to the starting lineup to provide a massive boost to an offense that has looked lost since he retired with an upper-body injury in the Wake Forest game. I’ve said time and time again that he’s the most underrated player for the Tar Heels, and you can see why when he’s not out there. His presence and ability to win the top end completely opens up the offense and diverts the attention of defense away from Josh Downs. No Power 5 receiver averages more yards per game than downs in conference play, but Ninth on that list is Antoine Green. For an offense built on chunk plays, he’s the straw that stirs the drink with a team-high 22.6 yards per catch.
Luckily for the Tar Heels, this game will be played in a short week so they can get the bad taste out of their mouths faster. Against your fiercest soccer rivals, this is a different kind of challenge and you need to understand the importance of this challenge in the conference championship. I wish you a happy Thanksgiving and if you travel to Kenan on Friday see you there. Until then, stay tuned to Inside Carolina for the latest kickoff coverage.