Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 27, 2020

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

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Page 34 of 55 NOV. 27, 2020 35 BY TODD D. BURLAGE NORTH CAROLINA RUNNING GAME VS. NOTRE DAME RUN DEFENSE Talk about strength versus strength. The Tar Heels averaged 239.4 rushing yards per game and feature two running backs who averaged more than 100 yards per game during their 5-2 start. At a bruising 5-10 and 220 pounds, junior Ja- vonte Williams was averaging 109.6 rushing yards per game and 7.2 yards per carry, and already had an ACC-leading 14 touchdowns on the ground. In fact, through games played Nov. 7, Williams led the country in both rushing touchdowns and total touchdowns (17). Senior Michael Carter has been equally danger- ous, adding 104.7 rushing yards per game, 7.3 yards per carry and four rushing scores to give UNC a potent one-two punch in the backfield. Williams and Carter combined for 1,936 rush- ing yards in 2019 — 1,003 for Carter and 933 for Williams — and both are on pace to eclipse 1,000 yards in 2020. For Notre Dame, after surrendering only 34 rush- ing yards on 33 attempts in the 47-40 double-over- time win over top-ranked Clemson Nov. 7 — the fewest gained by the Tigers and the fewest allowed by the Irish this season — the Irish improved to No. 5 in the country in rush defense, allowing only 85.1 yards per outing. Keep that pace and this unit will easily become the best single-season rushing defense that Irish head coach Brian Kelly has fielded in 11 years, poised to better the 105.69 figure posted in 2012. Senior rover Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is among the Irish leaders in almost every defen- sive category — including game-breaking plays, highlighted by his 23-yard touchdown return on a fumble recovery versus Clemson — and continues to build a strong All-America candidacy. Advantage: Even NORTH CAROLINA PASSING GAME VS. NOTRE DAME PASS DEFENSE As good as the Tar Heels have been on the ground, they have been as good or even better through the air with star sophomore quarterback Sam Howell, arguably the best signal-caller Notre Dame will face this regular season. Picking up where he left off after last season, Howell leads the "UNC Air Raid Attack" with a Through the Tar Heels' first seven games, junior wide receiver Dyami Brown led the ACC in both receiving yards per game (95.1) and touchdown receptions (six) while averaging a robust 18.0 yards per catch. PHOTO BY JOHN QUAKENBOS/COURTESY NORTH CAROLINA GAME PREVIEW: NORTH CAROLINA On PaPer

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