Early look at North Carolina

The Tar Heels enter Saturday's noon kickoff against Clemson with a 5-2 record.

Sophomore quarterback Bryn Renner had a big day for North Carolina against Miami, setting career-highs in pass completions (29), attempts (37) and yards (288).

He also threw two touchdown passes and was 20-of-22 for 214 yards in the second half in trying to rally his team from a 17-point deficit.

But it was the four sacks, including one in the closing seconds, that proved costly for Renner and the Tar Heels in the 30-24 loss to the Hurricanes.

The final sack came at Miami's 30-yard-line after North Carolina had recovered an onside kick following the Tar Heels' score with 46 seconds left.

Miami linebacker Sean Spence eluded a block and hauled Renner down from behind. Renner got the Tar Heels back to the line of scrimmage to spike the ball and kill the clock, but he had time for only one more play.

He completed a short pass to running back Giovani Bernard, but a couple of laterals later wide receiver Jheranie Boyd was tackled 24 yards short of the end zone.

"You don't have to make every play," coach Everett Withers said when asked what Renner may have learned. "Throw it away. Don't take a sack."

At the same time, though, Withers praised the competitiveness of Renner, who has guided the Tar Heels to a 5-2 start.

"We've got to do a better job as coaches," Withers said. "I've got to do a better job of saying this is when you need to throw the ball away.

"He's a coach's son, and he'll listen. Eventually that's going to help us win the game."

WR Dwight Jones had nine receptions for 65 yards and a touchdown against Miami. It was his eighth touchdown reception of the season, double his total for 2010. (Getty Images)
North Carolina, which was playing its fifth home game, now must go on the road for three of the next four games, starting with a trip to Clemson.

MONDAY NOTES: North Carolina had been parlaying strong starts into early advantages in previous games, but it didn't work that way against Miami. The Tar Heels couldn't stop Miami from marching 71 yards in 13 plays after taking the opening kickoff, and then the Heels' T.J. Thorpe fumbled on the ensuing kickoff return. Miami recovered and scored on the first play to take a 14-0 lead with just over six minutes played.

"You get down 14-0 in the first quarter and that takes some people's confidence away," senior CB Charles Brown said.

* North Carolina's defense came in wanting to shut down Miami's running game and did that, holding the Hurricanes to just 44 yards on the ground. Miami RB Lamar Miller (29 yards) failed to get to the 100-yard mark for the first time this season. But the Heels paid for it in the passing game when Miami threw for 267 yards. "I give them credit for throwing the football," coach Everett Withers said. "Our emphasis was on stopping the run, and they made some plays in the passing game."

* The Tar Heels had outscored their opponents 42-3 in the first quarter in their first six games but trailed 17-0 against Miami after 15 minutes had been played.

After giving up 13 first downs to Miami in the first half, the Heels held the Hurricanes to just two over the final two quarters.

KEEP AN EYE ON: DT Sylvester Williams -- The junior college transfer continues his strong play since earning a starting job in fall camp. He had five tackles against Miami, 1.5 for losses. He has 28 tackles on the season and 1.5 sacks.

LOOKING GOOD: North Carolina ran off a season-high 80 plays against Miami and topped the 400-yard mark in total offense for the fifth time this season. The Heels had 429 yards for the day, with 141 coming in the running game. RB Giovani Bernard ran for 109 yards, and QB Bryn Renner threw for 288.

STILL NEEDS WORK: The Heels' defense couldn't stop Miami on two third-down plays and one fourth-down conversion in the game's opening drive. Included among them was a third-down middle screen pass that gave Miami the touchdown. The secondary also had a major breakdown in the secondary on the first play after Miami recovered a fumble on a kickoff return, and the result was a 27-yard touchdown pass by Miami's Jacory Harris to a wide open receiver in the end zone.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It was very disappointing. We've never been down like that all year." -- Sophomore CB Jabari Price, on the 17-0 deficit the Tar Heels found themselves in after the first quarter of the loss to Miami.

CUTigers.com Top Stories