Hurricanes Face Tough Test Against Up-Tempo Tar Heels

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The University of Miami needs to get past the heartbreaking loss to FSU fast – otherwise North Carolina will run right by them.

The Tar Heels come to Miami running an up-tempo offense that produces a play every 17 seconds. They strive for 80 to 100 plays a game. The fast tempo gets a defense out of position, the number of plays wears a team down and often allows North Carolina to play with comfort on the scoreboard.

“They spread it out and go quick and run a lot of run-pass option stuff that really stresses your defense,” Miami head coach Mark Richt said. “They do a good job of getting lined up and ready to play.”

The offensive stats UNC has piled up are impressive. The Tar Heels are 60th in the nation in total offense, averaging nearly 425 yards per game – 299 passing and 125 rushing. They also average 34 points per game.

UNC quarterback Mitch Trubisky has been one of the top players at his position in the country this season.

Going into the Virginia Tech game, he had not thrown an interception. He then proceeded to throw two in hurricane conditions against Virginia Tech.

The 6’3” 225-pound junior, a former Mr. Football in the state of Ohio, has thrown for 1,769 yards with 13 touchdowns and two interceptions while completing 70 percent of his passes.

His cadre of receivers is talented and reliable.

Going into the Virginia Tech game, North Carolina was second in the nation in fewest dropped passes with three.

Slot receiver Ryan Switzer is the main target, totaling 589 yards and two touchdowns this season.

The UNC rushing attack is strong led by power back Elijah Hood, who’s like tackling a baby bull. While T.J. Logan, a former Parade All American, is the change of pace.

North Carolina returns a veteran group on the offensive line, with three players who have at least 30 starts in their careers. Right tackle John Heck will be making his 45th career start.

“The first thing is getting lined up. There tempo will be as fast as anything we have seen this year. They are a team that executes at a very high level.” Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said. “They have great running backs and receivers and they have tight ends that do an excellent job as both blockers and receivers. And of course they have a talented quarterback who orchestrates the entire offense.

“So they are very similar to the challenges presented last week, in the fact that they are a very balanced team being able to both run and throw the football. But the biggest challenge that they will present will be the tempo. Because the questions our guys will face will be are you walking around when they are set to snap the football, are your eyes not in the right position and can we make plays on the ball downfield? We know they will pass the ball down the field often and it will be a great challenge for our guys going against a couple tall wide outs that can go out and get it.”

North Carolina is 88th in total defense, but 113th against the run.

Miami must stay ahead of the chains and be able to run the ball. UM is ranked 43rd in rushing offense and expect to see a good dose of Mark Walton in this game.

Earlier this year, Georgia rushed for 222 yards. Last season the Tar Heels gave up 645 on the ground to Baylor, 319 to Clemson and 303 to North Carolina State.

A victory by the Canes would be the 150th career win for Mark Richt.

Miami will honor the 15th anniversary of the 2001 National Championship team.

Brad Kaaya needs 106 yards passing to overtake Gino Torretta for 4th on the all-time career passing yards list.

More from Joe Zagacki

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