Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 27, 2020

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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34 NOV. 27, 2020 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED a combined 4-9 record and, as of Nov. 8, was not in the AP poll after beginning the year there. The answer isn't one big finger- point, but the other side of the ball has been consistently leaky. North Caroli- na's 5.52 yards allowed per play is top 50 nationally, and its 3.29 sacks per game is top 20. Just as the Tar Heels' offense can rip off chunk plays, their defense has a penchant for allowing them. They have given up eight plays of 40-plus yards through seven games and are surrendering nearly 14 plays of 10-plus yards per outing. A 44-41 loss at Virginia Oct. 31 wasn't as bad a defensive outing as the score suggests — the Cavaliers av- eraged a just-okay 5.7 yards per play, but did score a 71-yard touchdown. A 31-28 loss at Florida State Oct. 17 in- cluded a 24-0 deficit late in the second quarter, indicative of a team sleeping through its alarm by an hour. The loss was sealed with three straight drops on what could have been a game-ty- ing or game-winning drive. What Brown, liked, though, was the response. After each loss, his team turned around and blew out the next opponent. A 48-21 takedown of rival North Carolina State followed the Florida State loss. The easy win over Duke was the next outing after the Virginia setback. "Can't let a loss beat you twice," Brown said. The Duke performance was among the defense's best, with only 10 first- half points allowed and five sacks. It's more impressive when considering the entire starting secondary didn't play. The unit began this preseason as the defense's strength in Brown's eyes, but since camp opened three defen- sive backs opted out, one starter was declared academically ineligible and three other starters were hurt at some point during the season. The bottom fell out against Florida State, with four pass plays of 30-plus yards allowed. The secondary delivering against Duke at its thinnest had short- and long-term significance to Brown. "We're getting to the point that the guys we put in when other guys are hurt have the ability to play and win the game, and we haven't been able to do that," the veteran coach said. Among the individual standouts on defense are senior end Tomon Fox, who leads the team in tackles for loss (8.0) and sacks (4.5), and senior linebacker Chazz Surratt, a first-team All-ACC selection in 2019. Surratt had a team-high 54 tackles to go with 4.0 sacks through seven contests, but he is saddled with the lowest PFF defensive grade on the team. ✦ GAME PREVIEW: NORTH CAROLINA Sophomore quarterback Sam Howell is averaging 10.3 yards per pass attempt, one of seven Football Bowl Subdivision passers with a double-digit clip. PHOTO BY JIM DEDMON, USA TODAY SPORTS/COURTESY NORTH CAROLINA 2020 NORTH CAROLINA SCHEDULE Date Opponent (TV) Result/Time (ET) Sept. 12 Syracuse W, 31-6 Oct. 3 at Boston College W, 26-22 Oct. 10 Virginia Tech W, 56-45 Oct. 17 at Florida State L, 31-28 Oct. 24 North Carolina State W, 48-21 Oct. 31 at Virginia L, 44-41 Nov. 7 at Duke W, 56-24 Nov. 14 Wake Forest W, 59-53 Nov. 27 Notre Dame (ABC) 3:30 p.m. Dec. 5 at Miami TBA Dec. 11 Western Carolina (ACCN) 7 p.m. 2020 NOTRE DAME SCHEDULE Date Opponent (TV) Result/Time (ET) Sept. 12 Duke W, 27-13 Sept. 19 South Florida W, 52-0 Oct. 10 Florida State W, 42-26 Oct. 17 Louisville W, 12-7 Oct. 24 at Pittsburgh W, 45-3 Oct. 31 at Georgia Tech W, 31-13 Nov. 7 Clemson W, 47-40 (2OT) Nov. 14 at Boston College W, 45-31 Nov. 27 at North Carolina (ABC) 3:30 p.m. Dec. 5 Syracuse (NBC) 2:30 p.m. Dec. 12 at Wake Forest TBA

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