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Film Forecast: North Carolina at Miami, 10/8

Mack Brown has owned Miami since his return to Chapel Hill in 2019. Brown finished 3-0 against Manny Diaz, now it’s Mario Cristobal’s turn to try to beat the Tar Heels.

NCAA Football: Miami at North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Hurricanes will host the North Carolina Tar Heels on Saturday, October 8th at 4pm eastern. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2 with hopefully a better presentation than the Miami loss to MTSU.

The Miami Hurricanes look to reverse their fortunes from the previous two games, but also from past UNC matchups and “off week” issues. Under Manny Diaz the ‘Canes were 0-3 against UNC, and struggled mightily after off weeks in the schedule, including bowl games.

UNC is coming off of a loss to Notre Dame, and an easy win over Virginia Tech.

The Doppler

Per the Football Outsiders (ESPN+ wouldn’t let me access Bill C’s piece on SP+ no matter how hard I tried), the Hurricanes are 56th overall, 60th in offensive efficiency, and 54th in defensive efficiency. UNC is ranked 59th overall. The Tar Heels are 17th in offensive efficiency, and 117th in defensive efficiency.

The Tar Heels are scoring 45.4 points per game (7th best in FBS) but are allowing 33.6 PPG (113th in FBS). The ‘Canes are only scoring 35 PPG (40th in FBS) and allowing 20.5 PPG (33rd in FBS).

NCAA Football: Middle Tennessee at Miami Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

UNC is 8th in FBS in points per play, while Miami is 107th. If The U is going to score, it’s coming off a long sustained drive (and seemingly thanks to a dumb penalty or two by the opposing defense). UNC on the other hand is hitting on big plays, like MTSU did against Miami two weeks ago.

This has the looks of a highly penalized game between two sloppy teams. Miami is 43rd in FBS with six penalties per game while UNC is 90th with 7.3 penalties per game.


Drake Maye’s first year as a starter has disproven many of the “Longo can’t develop QB’s” conversation floating around coaching group chats. Maye is completing 69.7% of his passes on 9.7 yards per attempt. Another eye popping stat is that Maye has tossed 19 touchdowns with only one interception. He has also added three rushing TD’s and is a good scrambler but not a burner, kind of like Sam Howell was before him.

Omarion Hampton has struggled against the Irish and the Hokies but still averages 5.9 yards per carry with five TD’s on the ground. Hampton, Maye, and Caleb Hood (6.9 yards per carry) could carve up the ‘Canes run defense if G-H counter and split zone get going for the Heels.

At receiver, for players with 10 or more catches, J.J. Jones leads UNC with 17.5 yards per grab and a TD. Josh Downs has been handling the dirty work averaging only 10.5 yards per catch with four TD’s on 22 receptions. Six-foot-six tight end Bryson Nesbit has three TD’s of his own.

Against Notre Dame, Maye threw five TD’s with zero INT’s on 9.4 yards per attempt. The Irish run defense held Omarion Hampton to 2.8 yards per carry on the afternoon. Antoine Green caught an 80 yarder and two touchdowns on three grabs. Josh Downs also scored twice, while J.J. Jones averaged 35 yards per catch.

This could be the opposite long night Miami had vs. UNC in ‘20, this time being thrown all over instead of the ball ran down their throats (as a coach, you prefer passes to runs).

Above- Against ND, the UNC offense picked up steam late after a slow start. Here’s an early throw from Drake Maye that worries me vs. Miami. Extends space and time, then a deep ball over a CB’s head.

Above- Unlike Howell who would take some tough abuse on runs, Maye knows how to slide and get down and away from trouble when needed. Converting a 3rd and long with his legs is a huge concern for Miami fans.

Longo saw what MTSU did on ‘and long’ vs. Miami and expect some pass-run options like swing-counter (above) dialed up.

Above- If you can’t picture this happening to Miami, well, you don’t watch enough Miami games. Just enough time to rub through defenders and catch a TD in the corner.

Above- Longo is going to feed Hampton the ball until Miami proves it can tackle consistently. G/H counter will be bread and butter for him against Miami, with some RPO tags on the outside against stacked boxes.

Above- Ivey... Stevenson... whatever 16’s name is... Couch... please play big against UNC.

Above- Oh buddy. I’m having foreshadowing’mares already for what Maye and Longo will dial up against these DB’s and LB’s of Miami. Not even fancy, just beating a dude 1-on-1 because you tried to press someone better than you.

Above- I can see this play out, too. Pressure just misses and Maye drops one in behind a back up cornerback that’s in because someone gets loser’s limp and a safety can’t get over in time to help.


Mack Brown has recruiting defensive line about as hard as anyone in the country other than Jimbo Fisher. LB Noah Taylor leads the team in tackles for loss with 4.5 and sacks with 2.5. With all that D-Line recruiting, UNC’s has played good but not great. Gene Chizik is going to bring pressure and the DB’s have suffered because of it. Tony Grimes has four PBU’s and Storm Duck has an INT and two PBU’s this year. The Miami O-Line should look better in pass protection against UNC, if they don’t, that’s on Josh Gattis as the OC.

Notre Dame QB Drew Pyne averaged 8.5 yards per attempt against UNC, and threw three TD’s with zero INT’s, too. Pyne isn’t great by any means so Van Dyke could have a breakout game against UNC coming off the extra time to prep, or Jake Garcia could become the next star QB at Miami, anyone’s guess!

Agains the Irish, UNC logged only one sack and four TFL’s, but did pick up four PBU’s and four hurries. As we saw against MTSU, sacks weren’t needed to keep Van Dyke off his game and Miami behind the Blue Raiders on the scoreboard.

Above- UNC gets home with the slowest pressure in blitz history. This games was really coming up Milhouse until it wasn’t

Above- Where are the more Air Raid type concepts everyone in the country are running from Miami? ND uses a TE shallow cross for a touchdown.

Above- Gattis likes to run, and loves play-action, well let’s see some good stuff. Hit a nice throwback wheel/rail type route to Jaylan Knighton. Get him going in the passing game

Above- One of my favorite run concepts, split zone here from ND. LB gets caught reading the path of the TE and is out of position against the cutback. Extra dangerous if the offense has been running G-H counter because the LB is cheating after seeing the H pull.

The Forecast

Per ESPN’s win expectancy data, Miami has a 67.2% matchup predictor. While Miami hasn’t scored a lot of points since their Week One matchup against Bethune Cookman, UNC’s defense is so bad maybe the ‘Canes can get some scoring going against the Heels on Saturday.

The Canyonero keys to victory from the summer were:

1- To shut down UNC wide receiver Josh Downs. Downs stats. On the short and underneath stuff DJ Ivey looks like a solid choice to put over Downs, but Longo will have seen those slot fades and hitch-and-go type concepts and try enough deep shots of his own. Downs could have a career game against Ivey, Tyrique Stevenson and the rest of The U’s defensive backs.

2- On defense, to not get over-aggressive and impatient when facing Phil Longo’s offense. Longo mixes deep shots with long drives, even though the UNC time of possession is at an all-time low (bottom 10 in FBS) their points scored is obviously in the top10 or so in FBS.

3- On offense, to take what UNC’s really bad defense gives you. My recommendation was to avoid Tony Grimes, the UNC defensive back. Grimes has three PBU’s but no interceptions through four games. What Miami WR will step up against UNC and their horrible pass defense? God, I hope someone! But Gattis hasn’t proven he’ll adapt or adjust at all.

Prediction: UNC by 9.