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Film Preview: Miami at North Carolina, 10/16

The ‘Canes head north to Chapel Hill to face Mack Brown and the Tar heels

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

The Miami Hurricanes head north to Chapel Hill to face the UNC Tar Heels on Saturday, October 16th. Kickoff is set for 3:30pm on the ACC Network.

UNC has a 54.9% win expectancy per ESPN, while Odds Shark has at UNC -2.5. The Hurricanes are 2-3 while UNC is 3-3 on the season. If you’re heading to Chapel Hill for the game I recommend Mama Dip’s Kitchen for good ol’ fashioned souther eats.

The data

Miami is 2-3 and ranked 26th overall by Bill Connelly’s SP+ metrics, while UNC is ranked 21st. The Hurricanes offense is ranked 25th, the defense 39th, and the kicking game 60th. UNC’s offense is ranked 6th, the defense is 57th, and their kicking game is 80th.

Florida State v North Carolina Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

UNC is 127th in FBS in sacks allowed, allowing 4.4 sacks per game. That means the Hurricanes, who love an aggressive pass rush, might be able to get home for a chance without blitzing. Miami on the other hand is 114th in sacks allowed having given up 3.2 per game.

Both offenses hang their defense out to dry- Miami is 123rd in time of possession while UNC is ranked 125th. The difference is UNC scores almost a TD more per game than Miami.

UNC’s losses have come from Florida State, a pesky Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech, while Miami’s have come from Alabama, Michigan State and Virginia.

The UNC offense

The UNC offense is scoring 35.5 points per game this season, which is good for 28th of 130 in FBS. With all of the conversation about UNC’s offense being ‘down,’ QB Sam Howell is still completing 60.5% of his passes for 9.2 yards per passing attempt. Howell has thrown 16 TD’s, ran three more, and thrown five interceptions.

The UNC run game isn’t as potent as it was in 2020, but they did lose two NFL running backs from last year’s offense. Transfer Ty Chandler has logged 484 rushing yards with five TD”s on 5.5 yards per carry. Howell is rushing for five yards per carry, too.

UNC has seven receivers with double-digit yards per catch. The bulk of the receptions have come from Josh Downs who averages 15.1 yards per grab and has seven TD’s. Kamari Morales has four TD’s, and Emery Simmons and Antoine Green average over 20 yards per catch.

Above- UNC’s O-Line held on just long enough to give Howell the time to drop this ball in for a TD. Miami’s safeties will have to really step up in coverage against an offense like this.

Above- If Miami can jump out to a lead, UNC OC Phil Longo will get impatient. Longo and Howell like to strike quick and take risks on deep balls. Miami cornerbacks need to play their best game of the year vs. UNC. Tyrique Stevenson has played well, he needs to play better.

Above- The entire country knows that Miami can’t tackle in space. Screens with OL out in space and your speedy WR against The U’s poor pursuit and tackling will be a money play for Longo to combat blitzes and poor alignment by Miami.

Above- Switch concepts, wheel routes, play-action- if Miami can’t get back to Howell this is the kind of play I expect to put up two TD’s vs. Miami on Saturday. Forcing the DB’s and LB’s to communicate and switch receivers late into the play will burn Miami. The ‘Canes have been poor at communicating coverage since Diaz arrived.

The UNC defense

The UNC defense is allowing 26.7 PPG which is good for 76th in FBS. UNC has 16 players with at least 0.5 tackles for loss on the season. They’re led by 305 pound defensive lineman Myles Murphy. Murphy has 6.5 TFL’s and three sacks in ‘21.

Tony Grimes leads the back end with four PBU’s on the year. The Heels have also forced four fumbles and picked off four passes. DC Jay Bateman is known as a tackling guru, but UNC hasn’t been as efficient this year.

Above- Jordan Travis provides little sparks to the FSU offense with his legs in the the passing game. He’s mobile and puts this ball in the perfect spot. Can Tyler Van Dyke get out in space, and which Miami WR will catch this ball on the sideline? Charleston Rambo?

Above- One of my favorite plays, especially if you run true split zone, is the inside zone read with a wrapping TE as a lead blocker for the QB. Travis pulls and the TE’s block springs him for an explosive play. UNC is susceptible to QB runs but does Van Dyke have the speed to beat UNC to the edge? I highly doubt it.

Above- Miami has to get the run game going so play action is effective. Here it opens up a deep drag and Travis throws across his body for a TD. UNC has Miami levels of poor communication on the back end and this could be a great way to get Mike Harley in space.

Above- Another sprint out in the red zone, this one a nice legal pick play to get the motioning receiver open by the pylon. I want to see more of this from Miami and especially on 1st and goal instead of 3rd and goal.


This summer I said the three Canyonero keys to victory against UNC were to finish plays on defense, being able to utilize inside zone read vs. the UNC defense, and winning the battle of the kicking games.

As you can see from the UNC versus FSU game:

1- Tackling in space against the Heels will be huge for Miami on screens and against Howell and Chandler in the run game.

2- Being able to run inside zone read helped FSU and could help Miami if Van Dyke can improve his running.

3- The damn kicking game has plagued Miami once again. UNC’s kicker is perfect on PAT’s and 5-of-8 on field goals. Their punt game is strong, and their return game is safe and effective. UNC isn’t making the mistakes Miami is. Andres Borregales is perfect on PAT’s and 6-of-9 on field goals. Lou Hedley is punting well, but Miami’s return and coverage schemes leave a lot to be desired.

Prediction: UNC by 3.