Miami, Florida – Coming off a much-needed break, the Miami Hurricanes seek to regroup as they open ACC play hosting the North Carolina Tar Heels. After a disastrous result versus Middle Tennessee, expectations of the team’s success this season are now significantly tempered. The Canes face a UNC team that is no joke, throttling Virginia Tech 41-10 at home to begin their conference schedule. Drake Maye is having a great start to the season putting up a very impressive performance in week 5 of the campaign. Maye has two great options in wide receivers Antoine Green and Josh Downs. When they’re not initiating the passing attack the Tar Heels have the services of freshman running back Omarion Hampton who’s hit the centennial mark twice this year.
UNC’s offense will pose a direct challenge to Miami scoring over 30 points in every game played so far. Currently 4-1 (1-0, ACC) the Tar Heels’ lone blemish is the 45-32 defeat to Notre Dame. They squeaked by Appalachian State earlier in the season 63-61. If the defense can’t contain North Carolina, Tyler Van Dyke will be tasked with keeping up against a unit that’s averaging 45.4 points a game. Now that they’ve tumbled out of the Top 25, the Miami Hurricanes hope to use North Carolina as a springboard in snapping their two-game losing skid.
Players to Watch
Drake Maye (QB) – This freshman is doing pretty darn good. Maye had a huge day versus the Hokies throwing for 363 yards and three touchdowns. The signal caller also led the team in rushing with 73 yards and two TDs showing dual-threat capabilities. He’s very effective at reading the field. For the season Drake has thrown for 1,594 yards, 19 touchdowns, and only one interception. He also has three scores on the ground grinding out 255 rushing yards. Maye is a tough guy to tackle who is not afraid to throw his weight around.
Handled the Hokies ✅#CarolinaFootball 🏈 #UNCommon pic.twitter.com/IimX77At2P
— Carolina Football (@UNCFootball) October 1, 2022
Antoine Green (WR) – North Carolina started the season missing one of its two main receivers. A shoulder injury during preseason camp sidelined Green. After missing the first three games, Antoine made an explosive return with three catches for 150 yards and two TDs versus the Fighting Irish. He also made a 16-yard catch for a touchdown last weekend on the Hokies. His presence really stretches the field and if he manages to get behind the defenders you can bet the Hurricanes will be seeing red with Green in the endzone.
Feels great have 3 back on the field 🙌#CarolinaFootball 🏈 #UNCommon pic.twitter.com/DhX5YenPQU
— Carolina Football (@UNCFootball) October 5, 2022
Josh Downs (WR) – The junior suffered a knee injury in the opener against Florida A&M missing some playing time. Downs rejoined the team versus Notre Dame making five catches, two of them for touchdowns. He didn’t see the endzone hosting the Hokies but caught eight passes for 120 yards. Downs achieved a school single-season record with 1,335 receiving yards last year. Like his teammates, he’s an explosive playmaker. UM’s secondary will be dealing with a very robust pass attack capable of charging down the field very quickly.
Josh Downs got 🆙 for Drake Maye's FIFTH Pass TD 🤝 pic.twitter.com/XfV1kFBqpC
— ACC Network (@accnetwork) August 28, 2022
Omarion Hampton (RB) – Anchoring the running game, Hampton is the lead back for the Tar Heels. Despite a quiet day collecting eight carries for 37 yards (and a fumble) Omarion has generated 293 yards on the ground this year complemented by five touchdowns. The four-star prospect is brimming with both speed and power. Hampton utilizes open-field instincts and can run through tacklers when needed. He can block too making the fella a versatile asset on the gridiron.
OMARION HAMPTON TO THE HOUSE! 💨💨
UNC strikes back to tie it against Georgia State 👀
— 247Sports (@247Sports) September 10, 2022
Tyler Van Dyke (QB) – The speculation is over. It’s official: Tyler Van Dyke is this weekend’s starter. His hold on the position has been the subject of fierce discussion. It remains the Van Dyke show, for now. He’s going to have to play at a level unseen since Bethune-Cookman especially if the Tar Heels start pulling away. Accuracy and converting on third down (and in the red zone) are what I will be looking at in this contest.
UM's Tyler Van Dyke reveals one change now: He's meeting more together with Gattis and Ponce (not only 1 at a time) and "telling them what I like and don't like and trying to get comfortable feeling with them, and being there more with them, instead of watching film on my own."
— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) October 4, 2022
Will Mallory (TE) – With the team’s top two wide receivers out, tight ends will remain a favored target. Will Mallory leads the depth chart, especially with Elijah Arroyo’s availability in question. So the real inquiry is whether these throws are successfully executed by all parties involved. Besides shaking the defender on his routes, Mallory needs to make those contested catches. Not only that, dropped passes are to be at a minimum versus this particular opponent and as always blocking is a must.
Frank Ladson Jr. (WR) – After weeks of little involvement, Frank Ladson Jr. has finally put up numbers worth mentioning. With six catches for 65 yards, the Clemson transfer led the team in receptions in the 45-31 loss to the Blue Raiders. Considering how thin things are in this area, the hope is this wasn’t some sort of inexplicable anomaly. The results have not matched the hype so far but that can change rapidly given the absence of Xavier Restrepo and Jacolby George. We may be on the verge of seeing the highly touted fourth-year junior break out this Saturday.
Frank Ladson Jr. working on route running. pic.twitter.com/2iRsOmdieK
— Adam Lichtenstein (@ABLichtenstein) August 15, 2022
Henry Parrish Jr. (RB) – The good news is Henry Parrish (and Rooster) has been cleared to play. Both exited the MTSU game. Miami’s lead back was unable to shine against Middle Tennessee. Parrish recorded 14 carries for 57 yards with both rushing TDs going to Thaddius Franklin. The two backs split the workload and the run game took a backseat when the Canes fell behind. North Carolina has been terrible against the run giving up close to 1,000 yards thus far in 2022. This presents a golden matchup for the running game, the Ole Miss transfer in particular. Parrish will hit the centennial mark.
Gotta get the hard work, ain’t no getting lazy! 🙇🏾♂️ pic.twitter.com/3LrVYkohJB
— Henry Parrish Jr. (@DoubleTay_21) May 2, 2022
This will be far from easy. Kobe Paysour is another threat to the secondary that I did not mention. Paysour is a four-star prospect coming out of Gaffney High School in South Carolina. He filled the void nicely when Green and Downs were gone. While it’s true their returns diminished his involvement, he’s still one more weapon for Maye to use. Fortunately, defensive backs Tyrique Stevenson and Daryl Porter Jr will be ready for Saturday. Offensive tackle Zion Nelson, meanwhile, will be a game-time decision. The bye week will serve its purpose and the Miami Hurricanes beat North Carolina in a thriller 31-27.
Photo | Danis Sosa
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