Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 9, 2017

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

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Page 38 of 55 OCT. 9, 2017 39 One of North Carolina's top run defenders is safety Donnie Miles, who was second on the team in tackles (29) through four games, after he regis- tered 102 stops a season ago. Advantage: Notre Dame NOTRE DAME PASSING GAME VS. NORTH CAROLINA PASS DEFENSE Through four games, the Tar Heels ranked 117th in the land for passing yards allowed (293.0 per game). They also were 107th in pass efficiency defense (144.37 rating), 110th in yards allowed per pass attempt (8.2), 114th in passing touch- downs allowed (10) and 121st in yards allowed per completion (14.5). North Carolina has arguably the best cornerback Notre Dame will face in senior M.J. Stewart. Pro Football Focus named him one of the seven fastest draft board risers for the 2018 NFL Draft follow- ing North Carolina's fourth game. Through four tilts, Stewart led the team in both sacks (two) and passes broken up (four) while tying for sixth on the team with 16 total stops (four for loss). Notre Dame ranked 113th nationally in passing yards per game (165.8) through four games, due in part to a 96-yard performance in its 49-20 win over Boston College Sept. 16. Wimbush has been inefficient throwing the ball so far this season, completing just 54.4 percent of his passes for 663 yards with three scores and two picks. That inefficiency was the driving force behind the Irish ranking 106th nationally in yards per pass completion (10.7) and 118th in yards per pass at- tempt (5.7). His three touchdown tosses ranked 101st in the country. Wimbush's early struggles impacted junior wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown, who had just 11 catches for 160 yards and one score in the first four games. Both Wimbush and St. Brown, though, showed signs of a breakout in the 38-18 win over Michigan State Sept. 23. Wimbush completed 70.0 percent of his passes for 173 yards in the victory, while St. Brown (four catches for 61 yards) was his top target. Sophomore wide receiver Chase Claypool was inserted into the starting lineup against Boston College, and in the first two games in which he started he hauled in seven passes for 80 yards. Advantage: Even SPECIAL TEAMS Statistically, neither Notre Dame nor North Caro- lina has thrived on special teams through the first four games. The Irish are certainly improved from the 2016 season, but none of their units have re- ally taken off. The Irish ranked 60th nationally in punt coverage (6.0 yards per return), 111th in kick return cover- age (24.4 yards per runback) and 123rd in punt return average (0.2 yards per attempt). North Carolina ranked 68th in punt return aver- age (6.5 yards per attempt), 86th in punt coverage (9.3 yards per return) and 103rd in kick coverage (22.9 yards per return). The Tar Heels ranked 23rd in kick return average (25.7 yards per attempt) thanks to Ratliff-Williams returning a kick 94 yards for a touchdown in the loss to Louisville. Despite not having a runback of more than 38 yards, Notre Dame ranked 35th in kick return average (23.9 yards per attempt). Notre Dame senior punter Tyler Newsome ranked 13th in punting average (45.6 yards per attempt), while North Carolina sophomore Tom Sheldon was 16th nationally (45.4). Advantage: Even COACHING Notre Dame's 3-1 start to the 2017 season raised Brian Kelly's record in South Bend to 62-32. During his tenure with the Irish, Kelly has a 20-8 record against teams currently in the Atlantic Coast Conference, including a 50-43 victory over North Carolina in 2014. Larry Fedora was hired by North Carolina fol- lowing the 2011 season, after leading Southern Mississippi to a 12-2 record. He steered the Tar Heels to a 21-17 mark in his first three seasons, but UNC broke out with an 11-3 campaign and won the Coastal Division title in 2015. However, North Carolina has been unable to build on that success. The Tar Heels posted an 8-5 mark in 2016 and lost three of their first four games this fall. Advantage: Notre Dame INTANGIBLES Notre Dame has the majority of the advantages in this matchup. The Irish have more overall team size and talent, and started the 2017 season in far more impressive fashion. What remains to be seen is if either team will continue the trend it had com- ing into this matchup. Notre Dame won its first two road games in the 2017 season, but that came after a stretch in which it was 3-10 in true road contests dating back to November 2013. North Carolina lost three home games to start the 2017 season, but during Fedora's tenure the Tar Heels had never lost more than three contests at Kenan Stadium in a season and lost more than two just once. Prior to this season, North Carolina was 25-8 at home during Fedora's tenure, high- lighted by a 7-0 mark in 2015. Advantage: Notre Dame GAME PREVIEW: NORTH CAROLINA Offense Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Cl. LT 75 Bentley Spain 6-6 310 Sr. 67 Charlie Heck 6-7 300 So. LG 64 Khaliel Rodgers 6-3 315 5th-Sr. 58 Nick Polino 6-4 300 So. C 54 Cam Dillard 6-4 310 5th-Sr. 55 Jay-Jay McCargo 6-3 295 R-Fr. RG 71 R.J. Prince 6-6 310 Sr. 70 Jonathan Trull 6-4 310 Sr. RT 67 Charlie Heck 6-7 300 So. 72 Mason Veal 6-5 305 So. TE 82 Brandon Fritts 6-4 250 Jr. 80 Jake Bargas 6-4 245 So. QB 6 Brandon Harris 6-3 220 5th-Sr. or 12 Chazz Surratt 6-3 215 R-Fr. TB 2 Jordon Brown 5-10 195 So. or 8 Michael Carter 5-9 195 Fr. WR 17 A. Ratliff-Williams 6-1 205 So. 21 Devin Perry 6-2 200 Jr. or 83 Juval Mollette 6-4 200 So. WR 85 Roscoe Johnson 6-1 190 R-Fr. or 19 Dazz Newsome 5-11 175 Fr. WR 10 Jordan Cunningham 6-2 190 Sr. 13 Josh Cabrera 6-3 205 Jr. or 88 Beau Corrales 6-4 205 Fr. Defense Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Cl. DE 12 Tomon Fox 6-3 245 R-Fr. or 33 Allen Cater 6-4 250 So. DT 92 Aaron Crawford 6-1 310 So. or 49 Jeremiah Clarke 6-5 315 Jr. DT 97 Jalen Dalton 6-6 295 Jr. or 55 Jason Strowbridge 6-4 270 So. DE 53 Malik Carney 6-3 235 Jr. or 17 Dajuan Drennon 6-4 245 Sr. Will 36 Cole Holcomb 6-1 225 Jr. 25 Ayden Bonilla 6-2 225 Jr. Mike 7 Jonathan Smith 6-1 230 So. 25 Ayden Bonilla 6-2 225 Jr. Sam 23 Cayson Collins 6-1 230 Sr. 3 Dominique Ross 6-3 210 So. CB 6 M.J. Stewart 6-0 205 Sr. 5 Patrice Rene 6-2 205 So. FS 1 Myles Dorn 6-2 210 So. 4 Allen Artis 6-1 215 Sr. SS 15 Donnie Miles 5-11 210 Sr. 29 J.K. Britt 6-0 200 Jr. CB 9 K.J. Sails 5-11 175 So. or 18 Corey Bell Jr. 5-9 185 Jr. NORTH CAROLINA DEPTH CHART Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Cl. PK 98 Freeman Jones 6-0 210 Jr. 97 Noah Ruggles 6-3 180 Fr. KO 98 Freeman Jones 6-0 210 Jr. 97 Noah Ruggles 6-3 180 Fr. P 39 Tom Sheldon 6-3 205 So. 91 Hunter Lent 6-5 230 Jr. LS 41 Kyle Murphy (PK) 6-2 240 Sr. 61 Tommy Bancroft (P) 6-4 230 Jr. Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Cl. H 16 Manny Miles 6-0 215 Jr. 91 Hunter Lent 6-5 230 Jr. KR 17 A. Ratliff-Williams 6-1 205 So. 6 M.J. Stewart 6-0 205 Sr. PR 6 M.J. Stewart 6-0 205 Sr. Special Teams

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