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October 15, 2013

Miami-UNC Capsule

Football Preview

Zero Dark Thursday.

The much-anticipated date has almost arrived as UNC prepares for their Thursday night battle with the Miami Hurricanes. Now a top 10 team according to the Associated Press, Miami brings with it a national spotlight that hasn't been seen since the early 2000's when they were winning national titles.

With it comes a huge opportunity for the Tar Heels to gain a big momentum swing in their season with a victory.

It won't be easy, and even fewer give them much of a chance, but a game like this is about as make-or-break a game a team will see all year long.

Here are some plotlines to follow.

Dual Quarterbacks

It remains to be seen just how much playing time either Bryn Renner or Marquise Williams will get Thursday night. But it is known that Larry Fedora has full confidence in whichever quarterback sees the majority of the time.

"I wouldn't hesitate to put him (Williams) in the game," said Fedora last Tuesday during his weekly radio show. "There's a good chance that he'll play in each and every game the rest of the way out to be able to use both of them and the skills that they both have."

Whether Williams plays because Renner isn't healthy enough to go or because he's in there to give the team another look, it's obvious that Williams is capable of putting the Heels in a position to win.

Williams was a four-star recruit coming out of high school in Charlotte and may have shown the first true glimpses of his potential against the Hokies.

The Hurricanes are a fast team on defense (what else is new about a Southern Florida team) but the easiest way to slow them down would be to make them think.

Running the read-option and using some playaction passes off it could open up some big plays down the field for the Tar Heels as they look to pull off the upset.

T.J. Logan

The much-heralded prospect made his season and collegiate debut against Virginia Tech and has had another full week or practice to improve upon that performance.

Logan carried the ball five times for a total of 25 yards and figures to only get better with more reps.

Already one of the more talented players UNC has picked up recently for their backfield, Logan could provide the missing spark UNC has lacked with its running backs since the departure of Gio Bernard.

"You really don't do a whole lot of coaching," running backs coach Randy Jordan said last week. "You coach technique in terms of foot work, tracks, and then what your reads are. But I tell him, 'Get you to the line of scrimmage, the rest is up to you. I can't make you a runner.' Some guys have it and some guys don't, but TJ definitely has it. I think he's going to continue to get better and he's so young and he wants to be good."

Logan is the type of player who can match wits with the talented Miami defense, if he's mentally ready for the challenge of a nationally televised game.

This being only his second game, it remains to be seen how Logan will handle the bright lights of such a contest.

But if he can get into a groove early and supplement the running styles of A.J. Blue and

Romar Morris he could help solve one of the long-standing problems the UNC offense has had this season.

Defense, defense and more defense...

Anybody who is a subscriber to this sight knows that UNC has struggled a bit on defense thus far.

That might be an understatement.

The Tar Heels will be going up against a complete offensive arsenal against Miami and CaneSports.com publisher commented on that element of the Hurricanes during an "Ask the Expert" special on Tar Heel Illustrated Monday: "Incredibly talented

#10/11 Miami
North Carolina
Game Day
Line: Miami by 8.5
Date: Thursday, October 17
Time: 7:45 pm
Stadium: Kenan Stadium (63,000)

TV: ESPN (Watch Online)
(S 85/91,XM 85/91)
Weather: Chapel Hill Forecast
Series: UNC leads the all-time series with Miami, 9-7.
Last Meeting: UNC won 18-14 on October 13, 2012 in Coral Gables, Fla.

Miami at a glance
Location: Coral Gables, Fla.
Nickname: Hurricanes
Colors: Orange, Gree & White
Stadium: Sun Life Stadium (74,916)
Surface: Natural Grass
Conference: ACC
2012 Record: 7-5 (5-3)
Head Coach: Al Golden
(45-45 overall, 18-11 at UM)
Last Game: Beat Georgia Tech, 45-30, in Coral Gables on October 5

Official Site | Rivals Site
Roster | Schedule | Stats

Miami Leaders
Passing: Stephen Morris
(58-94, 950 yds, 9 TD)

Rushing: Duke Johnson
(84 carries, 572 yds, 6.8 avg, 4 TD)

Receiving: Allen Hurnes
(20 rec, 383 yds, 19.2 avg, 2 TD)

Miami Rankings
Passing: 274.8 YPG (34th)
Rushing: 213.8 YPG (28th)
Point For: 45.2 PPG (9th)
Points Against: 16.0 PPG (9th)

North Carolina Leaders
Passing: Bryn Renner
(91-152, 1119 yds, 7TD)
Rushing: AJ Blue
(49 carries, 187 yds, 3.8 avg, 0 TD)
Receiving: Eric Ebron
(23 rec, 333 yds, 14.5 avg, 2 TD)

North Carolina Rankings
Passing: 292.8 YPG (23rd)
Rushing: 100.0 YPG (114th)
Point For: 23.6 PPG (94th)
Points Against: 31.4 PPG (95th)

kids and they have matched that with the level of their performances. Miami is really, really good on offense and the key is the job that the offensive line does. When those guys do their job, Miami is a tough offense to stop and a tough team to beat.

Duke Johnson is a dynamic runner, a threat to go the distance every time he touches the ball. The receivers and Morris will all be playing on Sundays really soon. If you are going to defend Miami, you better have a secondary that can run."

The big play ability of Miami is something UNC defensive coordinator Vic Koenning touched on last week after the loss to Virginia Tech led to some ominous signs about UNC's chances of stopping Miami's passing attack.

"Those two long pass plays were awful," defensive coordinator Vic Koenning said. "On one, (VT's quarterback) could see right past him and Dominique (Green) didn't get turned right, and he was (up against) a fast guy, the other one was just a bad play - there's no other way of saying that."

Coaches are notoriously less open with the media than they are with their own team, so if that's what Koenning was saying to reporters after practice, it's hard to think the players didn't get the message the relayed that sentiment to them in private.

It'll be up to veterans Tre Boston, Jabari Price and Tim Scott to make the adjustments necessary to stop guys like Allen Hurns (20 catches, 383 yards receiving and 2 touchdowns, Stacy Coley (12 catches, 205 yards receiving and 3 touchdowns) and Clive Walford (11 catches, 154 yards receiving and 2 touchdowns) from burning them.

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