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Film Preview: Miami at UNC, 9/7

The ‘Canes head to Chapel Hill to face the ‘Canes on Saturday

South Carolina v North Carolina Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

I’m going to preface this with- I wanted Sam Howell to sign with Miami. When Phil Longo was hired at UNC to be Mack Brown’s offensive coordinator it was only a matter of time before the North Carolina native Howell was called. Longo flipped Howell from FSU to UNC and is now the starting quarterback for the Tar Heels.

Remember that UNC was terrible a year ago and they’ve already knocked off an above average SEC East squad in the Gamecocks. How did they do it? Howell fumbled the ball twice, one of which was a turnover, but he threw two touchdowns and no interceptions and 10.2 yards per attempt passing.

I worry about a whip route like this. Manny Diaz and Blake Baker will bring pressure and a lot of times outside pressure. That can leave strikers, corners and safeties in precarious situations against good, speedy wide receivers.

Running game and RPO’s

What else can we expect from UNC? They have a solid running game with two good backs in Javonte Williams and Michael Carter plus a home run threat in Antonio Williams. Even with sack yardage added in the Heels ran for 238 yards on 4.6 yards per carry.

Coach Longo likes power, inside zone and split zone. The GIF below is of power and Javonte Williams squirts through a small crease for a big gain.

3rd level RPO

If you’re an avid SOTU reader you know how much I love my RPO’s. When everyone was confused to death about what they were I had to calm the nerves of our readership that NO the quarterback does NOT have to run to be an RPO. You can see that evidence here with Howell. I’m pretty sure this is an RPO (sometimes it’s hard to tell) because of the trio of receivers at the bottom of the screen all run blocking while the solo on the top runs a slant.

Howell has GRIT

Sam Howell has guts and plays with grit, especially for a true freshman. In the GIF below he takes a deep shot and his receiver comes down with the fade route. I attended UNC’s coaching clinic, open practice, and spring game- Coach Longo wants to nickel and dime defenses with bubbles and 5-yard outs until he can start taking deep shots. It was the same style that got him the job at Ole Miss and guided their top 10 S&P+ ranked offense there.

UNC 3-4 Defense

The Tar Heels play a 3-4 defense as their base look, with 2 safeties high. They like to bring some pressure, much like Jay Bateman did when he was the defensive coordinator at Army West Point. Now at UNC, not much has changed except the talent level. How can Miami take advantage of a 3-4?

I think the ‘Canes should be able to run against this look as UNC doesn’t have a strong front three or inside linebacking corps. The Heels are much stronger at the small skill positions than the big skills or line. Once the running game gets going it’s time to start hitting the middle of the field- the same way teams attack Miami’s pressure filled defensive scheme.


The Tar Heels are riding high coming off their come from behind win over the Gamecocks. The ‘Canes are coming off of a bye week following a close loss to the Florida Gators. This is going to be a much better game than many expect. It’s going to come down to small mistakes, like fumbled quarterback-running back exchanges or an interception or drop on a tough throw. The kicking games will be under the microscope, too.

In the end I think Miami is too much to handle for UNC. Miami’s weakness is the offensive line and I don’t think UNC has a strong enough defensive line to take advantage of that weakness.

Who needs to step up big for Miami on September 7th? Well- Manny Diaz and Dan Enos to start. As far as the players go Shaquille Quarterman will have to dominate the Tar Heels running game and direct traffic against Longo’s tempo and RPO driven offense. Jeff Thomas will have to redeem himself after a terrible outing against the Gators- Miami needs his speed and playmaking ability against the UNC defense and kicking game.

Prediction: Miami by 7