As part of the dwindling off season, SOTU will preview each game on the Canes' schedule. During the season there will be much more in-depth previews the week before each game, but these will serve to get you ready for what is to come. Enjoy!As part of the dwindling off season, SOTU will preview each game on the Canes' schedule. During the season there will be much more in-depth previews the week before each game, but these will serve to get you ready for what is to come. Enjoy!
Following a bye week after the first conference game of the season against Georgia Tech, Miami will travel to Chapel Hill on Thursday October 17th to take on the Tar Heels of North Carolina.
North Carolina has been a thorn in Miami's side ever since the Canes moved into the ACC in 2004. It's been that way ever since Connor Barth made a 42-yard field goal on the final play of the game to defeat the then fourth-ranked Canes 31-28 back in '04. In fact, North Carolina owns a 5-4 edge over Miami since moving to the ACC. Not bad for a school that's known mostly for basketball and baseball to do that against a school known mostly for football. It's hard to wrap your mind around it and there's really no rhyme or reason for it either. If Miami ever wants to be atop of the college football world again, they must beat ACC foes like North Carolina consistently.
Last season, Miami lost to North Carolina 18-14 at home in a low scoring affair. It was also the game when Stephen Morris went down late with a sprained ankle and back-up QB Ryan Williams was thrust into action. Williams, to his credit, played fairly well going 9-13 for 80 yards but was unable to lead the Canes to victory. Former St. Thomas Aquinas standout Gio Bernard torched Miami for 177 yards on 27 carries on the ground, including both Tar Heel touchdowns. Luckily for Miami, Bernard will be playing Sunday's this year instead of tormenting his hometown school.
Players to Watch
For North Carolina:
QB Bryn Renner is the Tar Heels trigger man and was 276 of 422 last season while throwing for 3,356 yards with 28 touchdowns and 7 picks. He was 25 of 40 for 214 yards and a pick against the Canes last season. He seems to fly under the radar, but he's very talented.
TE Eric Ebron killed Miami last year with 7 receptions for 87 yards. The Canes tend to have trouble covering tight ends, and the 6'4" 245 pound Ebron is a good one. He had 40 receptions for 625 yards and 4 touchdowns last season. Miami will have to contain him if they hope to stop the Tar Heels offense.
LT James Hurst has 36 career starts and will anchor their offensive line. He was a First Team All-ACC selection last year and could go very high in next year's draft. Miami will have to deal with getting through him to get pressure on Renner.
QB Stephen Morris will lead the Miami attack and hopes to rebound after a subpar performance against North Carolina last year. Before going down with an ankle injury, he was just 12-26 for 155 yards and 2 picks.
DE Anthony Chickillo will likely have the task of going up against James Hurst and will need to apply some pressure on Renner. We know how much Chick and the defensive line as a whole struggled to rush the passer last year, and Renner can pick apart the Canes defense if given time.
Both Miami and North Carolina will be coming of a bye week entering this game, so both teams should be well rested. It's a Thursday night primetime game on ESPN and the Canes have fared very well in those over the years. They usually come to play when the whole country is watching. I expect this to be a close game like the last two years have been. This is just the 2nd conference game for Miami, but it's a big game that could very well have ACC title game implications.