North Carolina Game Notes
Tar Heels Play Host To Wolfpack In Triangle Rivalry Game
North Carolina plays its last home game of the season when it plays host to NC State, Saturday, Nov. 20 at Noon. The contest will be televised on the ACC Network with Tim Brant and Dave Archer calling the broadcast. This will be the 100th meeting between the two schools with the Tar Heels holding a 63-30-6 lead.
The Tar Heels (6-4 overall, 3-3 ACC) are coming off a 26-10 loss to No. 16 Virginia Tech in Kenan Stadium. Carolina led 10-9 at halftime, but the Hokies scored 17 unanswered second-half points to earn the victory. Senior Anthony Elzy started at tailback in place of injured starter Johnny White and had 184 all-purpose yards, including 102 receiving and 82 rushing. Elzy scored on Carolina's opening drive.
Carolina committed a season-high six turnovers, including four interceptions and two fumbles. One of the interceptions came in the end zone that resulted in a touchback and another at the Virginia Tech 1-yard line, a fumble that rolled out of the end zone for another touchback.
NC State defeated Wake Forest, 38-3, last week in Raleigh. The Wolfpack (7-3, 4-2 ACC) are lead by quarterback Russell Wilson, who leads the ACC in both total offense and passing yards per game.
Saturday's game is the final home game for 17 North Carolina seniors (16 scholarship), including 12 fifth-year players. Over the last four years, those 17 players have turned around the fortunes of the football program. In 2007, the Tar Heels were 4-8 with most of those players playing significant minutes as freshmen. UNC improved to back-to-back 8-5 seasons in 2008 and 2009, including consecutive Meineke Car Care Bowl appearances. Over the last four games, Carolina has won 26 games, the most since UNC won 31 from 1996-99.
The senior class has a wealth of experience, including four players with 40 or more starts, led by safety Deunta Williams (44). Offensively, quarterback T.J. Yates has started 41 games, the most at that position in school history. Thirteen seniors are scheduled to graduate this December and the other four are on track to graduate in May.
North Carolina is bowl eligible for the third consecutive season. That is the longest such run since the Tar Heels went to eight consecutive bowl games from 1991-98. Carolina played in the Meineke Car Care Bowl in each of the last two seasons.
• Carolina committed a season-high six turnovers vs. Virginia Tech, including four interceptions and two lost fumbles. One of the interceptions came in the end zone that resulted in a touchback and another at the Virginia Tech 1-yard line, a fumble that rolled out of the end zone for another touchback.
• Carolina came into the Virginia Tech game ranked 28th in the country with a positive turnover margin. Following the game, the Tar Heels now rank 66th nationally with a -0.20 turnover margin.
• Prior to the Virginia Tech game, Carolina had committed a season-high three turnovers on three occasions - against LSU, Rutgers and Miami.
• The Tar Heels have committed 14 turnovers in four losses this year and turned the ball over just six times in their six wins (three of those six were in the victory at Rutgers).
• Carolina did not commit a turnover in two straight games vs. ECU and Clemson. It was the first time since 1996 the Tar Heels played consecutive games without a turnover (since accomplishing that in three straight games against Wake Forest, Maryland and Houston, October 5, 12 and 26, 1996).
• Carolina has had a positive turnover margin in each of the last three seasons. Prior to 2008, Carolina had a negative turnover margin in eight consecutive seasons.
White's Injury Leaves Tar Heels
Thin At Tailback
• Johnny White, North Carolina's leading rusher, broke his clavicle vs. Florida State and is out for the rest of the season. White entered the FSU game second in the ACC in all-purpose yards and third in rushing.
• Shaun Draughn, the 2009 starter, also twisted his ankle against the Seminoles and did not return. He did play sparingly against Virginia Tech with five carries for 18 yards.
• Freshman Giovani Bernard was expected to play this year, but tore his ACL three days into fall camp.
• Senior Ryan Houston, the team's leading rusher a year ago, was cleared from the NCAA investigation after five games, but plans to redshirt and return next season as a fifth-year senior.
• Senior Anthony Elzy has missed one game this year due to a shoulder injury, but was effective last week against Virginia Tech with 184 all-purpose yards.
• Sophomore Hunter Furr entered this year's Florida State game on the Tar Heels' final drive and had three carries for a career-high 27 yards. He had just six rushing yards entering the FSU game. 40-Start Club
• Carolina has four different players who have started 40-or-more games, led by safety Deunta Williams (44). Linebacker Bruce Carter has started 42 and quarterback T.J. Yates and cornerback Kendric Burney have each started 41.
Quarterback T.J. Yates, tailback Johnny White, linebacker Bruce Carter and defensive tackle Tydreke Powell were voted permanent team captains midway through the season. The special teams captains are named at the end of the season and are determined by the coaches' point system.
UNC lost 20 consecutive road games outside the state of North Carolina from 2002 to 2007. Since winning at Rutgers in 2008, Carolina is now 8-5 in games outside the state, including wins over Miami, Connecticut, Virginia Tech, Boston College, Rutgers, Virginia and Florida State.
Carolina has converted 61.0 percent of its fourth down attempts this season (11 of 18), including all four in a win over Clemson. The Tar Heels beat Clemson despite converting more fourth-down chances (4 for 4) than third-down chances (3 for 14).
Quick Strike Offense
• Carolina has scored on its opening offensive drive five times in the last six weeks. The Tar Heels had opening-drive touchdowns against Clemson, Virginia and Florida State, and first possession field goals against Georgia Tech and Miami.
• Overall, North Carolina has scored on its opening drive six times this season – vs. Georgia Tech, Clemson Virginia, Miami and Florida State.
• Johnny White scored on a 4-yard run on Carolina's first possession of the Clemson game. It marked the second time UNC has scored on its first possession (FG vs. Georgia Tech) and the team's first opening-drive touchdown of the season.
• Carolina needed just 1:42 to score on its opening drive at Florida State. Yates hit Dwight Jones for 38 yards on the game's first play. Three plays later, Johnny White scored from six yards out.
• Carolina scored on a 81-yard touchdown catch-and-run by Dwight Jones on the first play from scrimmage at Virginia. Jones caught a crossing route about three yards deep, broke a tackle and then raced to the end zone.
• Carolina has three touchdown "drives" this season under 20 seconds. The Tar Heels scored on a 97-yard TD pass to Jheranie Boyd, which took just 14 seconds. UNC scored on a Dwight Jones reception vs. Virginia on the first play from scrimmage, which took just 17 seconds. Carolina also scored on 17-second drive at Virginia when Yates connected with Pianalto from 1-yard out. That play was set up by Jones' 54-yard reception to the goal line.
North Carolina Head Coach Quotables
"A retrospective to Saturday's game that was eerily similar to the Miami game. When you look at the film the shortcomings we had in both those games did not help us win.
"Clearly the turnovers are just killers. If you turn the ball over six times and don't create any it is almost impossible to win the game.
"As important as the next game is you have to play better and protect the football. You cannot spot a team the advantage in the turnover ratio.
"Back to Saturday's game some of the things that concern you are big plays. I think we gave up four passes of 37 yards or more. Particularly when you have an opportunity to get them out on a third and 17 to punt.
"N.C. State is playing extremely well. They are dramatically better defensively and put a lot of pressure on the quarterback. Their linebackers are playing outstanding. Nate Irving on film looks like the best linebacker we have played against thus far.
"Russell Wilson is playing at a very high level. He concerns you not only with his ability to extend plays and scramble, but he is throwing the ball very well. Sometimes you try to compare him to Tyrod Taylor, but I think he can really make you pay with his accuracy down the field if you're not fundamentally sound. He can throw the ball 50 or 60 yards down the field.
"Special teams wise they got off to an excellent start returning kicks. The other thing that they've done is block some punts. So you have to do a great job in protection and your coverage.
"This will be a big challenge. It is a home game and is also senior appreciation day. This is a group of seniors, when they first played in 2007, has been bowl eligible each of the last three seasons. We have 17 seniors and 13 of them will graduate in December. The other four are on track to graduate this spring. There is an awful lot to be proud of and inside this building there is an awful amount of respect and for these guys. They are great leaders."
North Carolina Depth Chart