GAMEDAY: NC State vs. North Carolina

NC State (4-7) hosts North Carolina (8-3) in the season finale with several seniors playing their last game in Carter-Finley Stadium. Kickoff is set for 12:00, and the game will be televised on ESPN2.

NC State (4-7) vs. North Carolina (8-3)
Saturday, November 28, 2009
12:00 pm (EST), ESPN2
Raleigh, NC
Carter-Finley Stadium

NC State Links
Official Site

North Carolina Links
Game Notes

CFN's Take

North Carolina (8-3) at NC State (4-7),12:00 EST, ESPN2, Saturday, November 28

Why to watch: Sure, it's been an up-and-down kind of year in Chapel Hill, but Butch Davis' Carolina team certainly is resilient. After reaching rock bottom on Oct. 22 with a nationally-televised blown game versus Florida State, the Tar Heels have rallied for four consecutive wins, including making Virginia Tech and Miami their victims. Now with eight victories and a bowl game left to come, the program has a shot at 10 wins for the first time since Mack Brown was on the sidelines in 1997. NC State, on the other hand, couldn't be riding a more opposite spectrum. Since beating Pittsburgh on Sept. 26, the Wolfpack has slumped into irrelevancy with six losses in the last seven games. Beating the rival Tar Heels for a third straight season will have to qualify as a postseason moment this fall.

Why North Carolina might win: The defense is playing about as well as any in America these days. Not only are the Tar Heels the nation's fifth-ranked D, but it's creating a slew of turnovers and has actually scored four touchdowns in the last two games. State's one-dimensional offense just won't cut it on this day. Carolina will bring all kinds of pressure from the likes of DE Robert Quinn and LB Quan Sturdivant, which creates opportunities for CB Kendric Burney and S Deunta Williams to take errant passes back the other way. Russell Wilson is no longer a mistake-free passer, having thrown a pick in each of the last seven games.

Why NC State might win: Okay, so what happens if the Carolina D doesn't create its own points? The Tar Heel offense remains abysmal, ranking 113th nationally and getting no help from QB T.J. Yates and the passing game. In fact, Yates has thrown one touchdown pass in the last three weeks and is No. 12 in the league in passing efficiency. With little to worry about here, the battered Pack defense can take a deep breath and concentrate on stopping RB Ryan Houston. Tom O'Brien will stack the box with LB Audi Cole and S Clem Johnson, daring the Heels to beat the defense over the top. In a close, low-scoring rivalry game, you never know what might happen, especially on the road.

Who to watch: The NC State defense might actually be bad enough to make Carolina look potent for one weekend. Maybe. If the Heels want to spread the field a bit, it ought to look to get the ball in the hands of WR Erik Highsmith more often. A true freshman with substantial upside, he's gotten better as the season's progressed and has the 6-3 frame to create match up problems for the depleted Wolfpack secondary.

What will happen: The fact that Carolina needs the defense to generate points is a concern, but not so much that it won't get a measure of revenge for the last two losses to NC State. Even if the Heel D doesn't physically break the plane of the end zone, it'll shut down the Wolfpack and create a bunch of short-field opportunities for the offense. While Yates might not turn those into six points, PK Casey Barth will benefit with yet another four-field goal day.

CFN Prediction: North Carolina 26 … NC State 17 ... Line: North Carolina -5

Must See Rating: (Charlie Brown Thanksgiving 5 … The Twilight Saga: New Moon 1) … 2

Game Keys

NC State Offense vs. North Carolina Defense

It is vital for NC State that they win the turnover battle against North Carolina. That is priority #1 for the offense, especially against a team so opportunistic in the Tar Heels.

North Carolina is #31 in the nation in turnover margin at +.45. Through eleven games, the Tar Heels are tied for sixth in the nation in interceptions, totaling 19 with another seven fumble recoveries.

Carolina's success has been directly tied to turnover margin. In its eight wins, North Carolina has forced 25 turnovers. In the three losses, the Heels forced just one turnover. Simply put, if you don't turn the ball over against North Carolina, you have a very, very good shot at winning as in all three of its losses the Heels lost the turnover battle.

The bad news for NC State is they have been struggled with turnovers in recent weeks, but the key is quarterback Russell Wilson. The talented sophomore has accounted for 31 touchdowns, but has thrown an interception in each of his last seven games. He needs to limit turnovers for his team to have a chance to win.

North Carolina's defense is fast, physical, and athletic. They play a bend-don't-break style and drop a lot of defenders into coverage hoping a quarterback will try to force a pass and make a mistake. The Heels try to take away the deep ball by positioning the safeties deep and keeping everything in front of them. Teams who have had success against North Carolina have done so by sustaining drives and executing offensively.

With all that being said, if NC State wins the turnover battle, they likely win this football game.

In last year's win over North Carolina, the Wolfpack was able to establish the running game behind Andre Brown and Jamelle Eugene. Brown has graduated, but Toney Baker has taken his place and leads the Pack in rushing this season.

North Carolina is No. 11 nationally in rush defense, allowing 95 yards per game. That number is greatly affected by Carolina's ability to produce tackles for a loss and sacks. In its past two games, Miami and BC's tailbacks averaged 135 yards rushing so they can be run on.

Establishing the ground game will be huge for NC State. If the Pack can have success running the football, it will open up the play-action passing game and prevent North Carolina from keeping its safeties deep to take away the long ball. For NC State to win, they must have a strong rushing attack.

The formula for NC State's offense is simple: sustain drives, control the clock, stay balanced, limit turnovers, and be efficient in the passing game. The Wolfpack also has to be opportunistic.

When NC State has a chance to make a big play, they must make it. If a wide receiver is open, Wilson has to find him and the wideout has to catch it. If there's one man to miss for a big run to happen, Jamelle Eugene or Toney Baker have to shake him. In a game that should be close and come down to the wire, capitalizing on potential scoring opportunities will go a long way to determining the winner.

North Carolina's defenders have great ball skills. They win a lot of jumpballs and do a terrific job of adjusting to tipped balls and batted passes to make the interceptions. When they tackle runners, they try and force fumbles. NC State has to be strong with the football and when the ball is in the air they must come up with the catch.

Capitalizing on those plays is essential to the Wolfpack's offense.

NC State Defense vs. North Carolina Offense

There are basically five facets to the UNC offense that NC State will need to be cognizant of and defend on Saturday. The first is Carolina's base run game which will be Ryan Houston between the tackles. Since starting tailback Shaun Draughn has been lost for the season, Houston has filled in admirably and proven to be a handful, particularly is short yardage situations.

While Houston will be the focus of the UNC rushing attack, the Heels will routinely put Greg Little and Jay Boyd in motion and run them behind Houston as a threat to get outside the tackles. Because of the Pack's struggles tackling out in space, they will likely see Carolina run this play several times. State's linebackers have to have ball awareness and ensure that they make the correct read and limit UNC's yardage on these plays.

In the passing game, T.J. Yates has been up and down all year. He seems to struggle, particularly if he's roughed up early or throws an early interception. Yates can be inconsistent with his accuracy which means UNC will likely try to give him safer throws for the most part.

The two plays State will have to defend put quite a bit of pressure on the linebackers and that hasn't been the most desirable scenario for the Wolfpack in 2009. First, Zack Pinalto is one of Yates' favorite targets and he loves to hit him especially on third and intermediate distance. Pinalto likes to settle in over the middle and use his size against the opposing linebacker. State has to account for him at all times and play physical to try to limit his touches.

Another play UNC really likes to run is to drag Greg Little across the formation and in front of the linebackers. Once he makes the catch, he has the speed and athleticism to run away from linebackers and turn a simple catch into a big gain.

Lastly, the Heels like to go deep at least a couple of times during the game. This has worked at times but has gotten T.J. Yates into trouble just as often with poorly thrown balls. State has to expect that they'll be tested deep so they can't be sucked up into Carolina's short passing and power run game.

Although the final results don't necessarily prove the point, the NC State defense has taken small steps in the right direction. The Pack has made mistakes but cut down on the overall quantity of blown coverages and missed tackles.

Part of this is likely due to the fact that many of State's younger players now have several games under their belt and are beginning to feel more comfortable with the speed and physicality of the game.

If State is to have any realistic shot of winning Saturday they have to continue to move in the right direction. If you evaluate the game objectively, UNC will have one of the weaker offenses the Pack will have faced this year and they have to take the fight to the Heels and not allow UNC to dictate the game. The Wolfpack has to eliminate blown coverages, play disciplined while accounting for every offensive threat and they have to swarm to the ball, limiting yards after contact.

Whether State wins or loses remains to be seen but they need to show that they're moving forward and continuing the maturation process which should help them emerge as a more solid unit in 2010.

North Carolina Game Notes

Led by the nation’s fifth best unit in total defense, UNC enters Carter-Finley Stadium on Saturday boasting a four game winning streak. The Heels will look to avenge a 41-10 loss to the Wolfpack in 2009 and improve their bowl possibilities with a win. Pack Pride takes an in-depth look at the UNC football program.

Record 8-3

UNC National Statistical Rankings

Rushing offense...76

Passing offense..107

Total offense...113

Scoring offense...82

Rushing defense...11 

Passing defense...11

Total defense...5

Look back at UNC’s last game from 

North Carolina 31 … at Boston College 13

Deunta Williams picked off three passes, Cam Thomas returned a fumble for a 20-yard touchdown, and Kendric Burney returned an interception 30 yards for a score as North Carolina forced six turnovers in a dominant defensive performance. The Tar Heels got up 21-0 in the first quarter on Burney’s score, but BC fought back with 13 straight points on two Steve Aponavicius field goals and a two-yard Rich Gunnell touchdown catch. UNC dominated the fourth quarter with Williams taking a pick deep into Eagle territory leading to a one-yard Ryan Houston touchdown run to put the game away.

Player of the Game: North Carolina DB Deunta Williams made two tackles with three interceptions

Boston College: Passing: Dave Shinskie, 12-28, 101 yds, 1 TD, 4 INT

Rushing: Montel Harris, 23-132, Receiving: Rich Gunnell, 6-60, 1 TD

North Carolina: Passing: T.J. Yates, 23-34, 182 yds, 3 INT

Rushing: Ryan Houston, 18-45, 2 TD, Receiving: Greg Little, 7-69

What It All Means: The defense is playing at a devastating level. After Kendrick Burney and the D picked off Jacory Harris four times in the win over Miami, it was Deunta Williams who led the way with six more takeaways against the BC offense. The UNC attack didn’t have to take many chances, and it won’t have to next week against an NC State team that’s among the worst in America in turnover margin. On a four-game winning streak, the Heels still have a shot at a ten-win season with two more victories, and while there are mile-wide holes to fill for next year, like figuring out how to get the offense moving, this has been close to being the year the fans have been hoping for from Butch Davis.

UNC Game Notes

Tar Heels Back In Top 25 Rankings

North Carolina is back in the top 25 of both the Associated Press (No. 23) and USA Today Coaches Poll (No. 24). It is the first time the Tar Heels have been ranked in both polls since the

third week of the season (Sept. 20). At the time, Carolina was 3-0 after wins over The Citadel,

Connecticut and East Carolina. The following week, UNC lost at Georgia Tech, who was not

ranked at the time, and fell out of the polls. The Tar Heels did return to the Coaches top 25 poll

last week in a tie for 25th with Nebraska. The last time Carolina finished the season ranked in either poll was 1997 when it was No. 4 in the coaches poll and No. 6 in the AP poll.

Turnover Margin Playing Key Role

• Carolina has forced 22 turnovers in the last six games, after only producing seven in the first

five. The Tar Heels have nine interceptions over the last two weeks, including four vs. Miami and

five at Boston College.

• North Carolina’s has 14 takeaways in its current four-game win streak, including six in a 31-13 win at Boston College, four in a 33-24 win vs. Miami, two in a 19-6 win over Duke and two in a 20-17 victory at Virginia Tech. The Tar Heels are +8 in turnover margin during the streak.

• After a 16-3 loss vs. Virginia (fifth game of the season), Carolina ranked 106th in the country with a -1.06 turnover margin. Since that game, Carolina is +11 in turnovers and is now ranked 31st in the country with a +0.45 turnover margin. UNC did not have a positive turnover margin ranking until after the Miami game (10th game of the season). Last season, North Carolina was 29th in the country in turnover margin (+0.46), its highest ranking in nine years.

UNC Leads The Nation in Interception Return Yardage

• North Carolina leads the country with a school-record 508 interception yards and is tied for the national lead with four interception returns for touchdowns. Clemson is second with 396 interception yards. Texas and Mississippi State also have four TDs on interception returns.

• Carolina also has 98 yards on fumble returns, including two for touchdowns. Combined, Carolina has 606 yards on interception or fumble returns and six touchdowns.

• Carolina’s 508 interception return yards are a single-season school record. The previous mark of 467 was set last year on 20 interceptions.

• Carolina’s four touchdowns on interception returns matches the school record set last season.

• The Tar Heels are sixth in the country with 19 interceptions after picking off 11 passes in the last three games (Boston College 5, Miami 4, Duke 2). A year ago, Carolina was ranked eighth in the country with 20 interceptions. Carolina has averaged more than one interception per game over the last two seasons.

• Carolina needs just two more interceptions to match the school record of 21 set in 1972.

Seven Non-Offensive Touchdowns Leads The League

• Carolina leads the ACC with seven non-offensive touchdowns, including four in the last two games. The Tar Heels scored on a 20-yard fumble return by defensive lineman Cam Thomas and a 29-yard interception return by cornerback Kendric Burney at Boston College. The previous week, Burney scored on a 77-yard interception return and Melvin Williams scored on a 44-yard interception return.

• Carolina has scored six defensive touchdowns this season and one on a punt return by Da’Norris

Searcy vs. The Citadel.

Carolina Defense Ranked No. 5 In The Country

• North Carolina is ranked in the top 12 in the country in all four major defensive categories. The Tar Heels are No. 5 in total defense (261.6 avg.), 11th in rushing defense (94.4 avg.), 7th in pass efficiency defense (96.0 rating), 11th in scoring defense (15.9 avg.) and 11th in passing defense (167.3 avg.). The last time North Carolina finished ranked in the top 10 in total defense was 1997, when the Tar Heels were No. 2.

• North Carolina limited Boston College to just 198 total yards, picked off five passes, forced two

fumble, scored two defensive touchdowns, had four sacks and posted eight tackles for losses in a 31-13 win.

• Despite allowing 435 yards in a 33-24 win over Miami, Carolina’s defense picked off four passes and returned two for touchdowns. The Tar Heels’ held Miami’s outstanding running back Graig Cooper to just 63 yards on 15 carries.

• Carolina held Duke to 125 total yards of offense in a 19-6 win on Nov. 7. The Tar Heels limited the Blue Devils to 113 yards passing, more than 212 yards below Duke’s season average entering

the game (Duke was averaging 325.1 yards passing). The 125 yards are the fewest allowed by Carolina this season (previous was 153 by The Citadel). It’s the fewest since Clemson had 91 yards in 1996.

• Carolina’s run defense has now held eight of 11 opponents under 100 yards on the season. Duke rushed for just 12 yards, the fewest by a UNC opponent this year (previous 30 by The Citadel).

Carolina Fifth in Third-Down Conversion Defense

• A week after holding Boston College to 0 for 13 on third down conversions, North Carolina ranks fifth in the country in third down conversion defense. During the last four games (all wins), Carolina is holding opponents to 12 of 54 on third down (22 percent), including 0 for 13 vs. Boston College, 4 for 13 vs. Miami, 2 for 13 vs. Duke and 6 for 15 vs. Virginia Tech.

Burney Makes Push For All-ACC Honors

• Junior cornerback Kendric Burney is making a push for All-ACC honors after picking off four

passes and scoring twice in the last two weeks.

• A native of Jacksonville, N.C., Burney set the UNC career record for interception returns for

touchdowns (3) when he scored on a 30-yarder at Boston College. He also had interception returns for touchdowns at NC State in 2007 and Miami in 2009. The previous record of two was held by seven players – Burney, George Barclay (1932-34), Bill Maceyko (1946-48), Al Goldstein (1957-59), Greg Poole (1979-82), Dre’ Bly (1996-98) and Kareen Taylor (2003-06).

• Burney is the second in the ACC with 347 career interception return yards. He trails only Duke’s John Talley, who had 395 yards.

• Burney was named The Walter Camp Football Foundation National Defensive Player of the Week for his performance in Carolina’s 33-24 win over No. 12 Miami. He also was one of four players nominated for AT&T All-America Player of the Week honors. He intercepted three passes vs. Miami and returned them for an ACC single-game record 170 yards, including one of a 77-yard touchdown, against the Canes. The 170 yards also broke the UNC record for interception return yardage in an entire season. The previous single-game ACC mark was 128 by Duke’s Dennis Tabron vs. Clemson on October 18, 1980. Burney returned his second interception 77 yards for a touchdown for his second career interception return score. His 77-yard return was the seventh-longest in school history, and Burney now has two of Carolina’s eight longest interception returns. Burney became the first Tar Heel with three interceptions in a game since Dre’ Bly against Georgia Tech in 1996. On his third interception, Burney returned it 46 yards, then fumbled the ball to teammate Melvin Williams for the final 44 yards and a touchdown.

• Burney’s three interceptions and 170 yards are single-game highs in the country this season.

• Burney ranks 11th in the country in interceptions with five in 11 games.

Tar Heels Among Top 20 in Red-Zone Efficiency

• North Carolina’s offense ranks third in the ACC and 20th in the country in red zone efficiency,

converting 32 of 35 attempts. In the red zone, Carolina has rushed for 13 touchdowns, passed for six and kicked 13 field goals. The Tar Heels streak of 20 consecutive red zone conversions came to an end in the third quarter of the BC game when T.J. Yates threw an interception in the end zone. UNC’s only other red zone misses came at Georgia Tech, when it was 0 for 2.

Success Against Ranked Teams

• Dating back to last season, the Tar Heels have won five straight against teams ranked the AP Top 25 Poll. Last year, Carolina posted wins over No. 24 Connecticut, No. 23 Boston College and No. 22 Georgia Tech. This season, Carolina knocked off No. 14 Virginia Tech in Blacksburg on Oct. 29 and defeated No. 12 Miami on Nov. 7. This year’s win over Miami is the highest ranked team Carolina has defeated since a 31-28 win over No. 4 Miami in 2004.

• Carolina’s five-game win streak over ranked teams is the longest in school history. The Tar Heels defeated four consecutive ranked teams in 1992-93.

• The last time Carolina defeated two top 15 teams in the same season was 2001 when the Tar Heels knocked off No. 6 Florida State, 41-9, and No. 13 Clemson, 38-3. This is only the third time in school history Carolina has defeated two top 15 teams in the same season. The others were 1957 and 1979.

Barth Family Has a Good Weekend

The weekend of Nov. 14-15 was a big one for the Barth family – seven field goals worth. On Saturday, Nov. 14, Casey Barth, a sophomore placekicker at North Carolina booted four field goals, including the game-clincher in the fourth quarter in UNC’s 33-24 win over 12th-ranked Miami. On Sunday, Casey’s older brother Connor, a former UNC standout who is now in the NFL with Tampa Bay, connected on 3 field goals – all from 50 or more yards – in the Buccaneers’ 25-23 loss to the Miami Dolphins. Barth tied the NFL record for most field 50-yard field goals in a game. North Carolina kickers now hold the NCAA and NFL single-game records for most 50-yard field goals. Former Tar Heel Dan Orner booted three 50-yarders (51, 52, 55) vs. Syracuse in 2002.

Quinn Having Sensational Sophomore Season

• Sophomore Robert Quinn, who is fortunate to be playing football, is one of the best defensive

ends in the ACC. The 6-5, 270-pound native of Ladson, S.C., has 45 tackles, including 17.5 tackles for losses of 117 yards and 11.0 sacks for 94 yards. He also has forced five fumbles and has 12 quarterback hurries. The 2008 ACC Piccolo Award Winner (league’s most courageous player), Quinn underwent emergency brain surgery for a tumor early in his senior season at Fort Dorchester High School. After gaining clearance from his doctors to return to athletic competition, Quinn came back from surgery to win the state high school heavyweight wrestling championship.

• Quinn ranks first in the ACC in tackles for losses and second in sacks. For his career, Quinn has

24.0 tackles for losses and 13.0 sacks in 23 games.

• Quinn had a great game vs. Duke with seven total tackles, 3.0 sacks, 4.5 tackles for losses, a pass break up on fourth down, a forced fumble and six quarterback hurries.

• Against Virginia, Quinn had seven tackles (all solo stops) and a career-best three sacks. He had four tackles for losses of 28 yards.

• Quinn had a career-high 10 tackles, including 2.5 for loss, at Georgia Tech. His previous high of six came against NC State and Georgia Tech last season.

• In off-season training between his freshman and sophomore seasons, Quinn broke Julius Peppers’ school record in the 40-yard dash by a defensive end by running a 4.51. Quinn also topped Kentwan Balmer’s school mark by a defensive lineman in the power clean at 366 pounds. Balmer was a firstround pick in 2007 by the San Francisco 49ers. Quinn has a 10-0 mark in the standing broad jump and has a vertical jump of 32 inches.

• Quinn was third in the 2008 ACC defensive rookie of the year voting.

Pianalto’s Nears Tight End Record

• When healthy, junior tight end Zack Pianalto has been one of Carolina’s best offensive weapons.

The Springdale, Ark., native ranks third on the team with 29 receptions for 274 yards despite playing just seven games. He enters the final game of the regular season vs. NC State needing just three catches to match Freddie Jones’ 1996 single-season school record for most receptions by a tight end with 32.

• Pianalto dislocated the subtalar joint in his right foot at Connecticut and missed four games, returning to the starting lineup vs. Florida State. However, he played just two series against the Seminoles before suffering a concussion and did not return.

• In the first two games of the season, Pianalto had eight receptions for 112 yards and a touchdown. In the four games that followed, Carolina’s tight ends had just six receptions for 56 yards. Since his return, he has 21 catches for 162 yards.

• Pianalto has caught at least five passes in each of the last four games with five catches for 35 yards vs. Boston College, five catches for 51 yards vs. Miami, six receptions for 34 yards against the Hokies, five catches for 42 yards vs. Duke.

• Pianalto had career highs in receptions (7) and receiving yards (87) vs. the Huskies, and scored the game-tying touchdown with 2:36 remaining.

• Unfortunate oddity: Pianalto has scored two career touchdowns and has suffered a severe injury on both of them. As he dove into the end zone last year vs. Georgia Tech for a touchdown, a defender’s helmet struck him on the left leg, breaking his fibula bone. He missed the remainder of the season.

Little Steps Up

• Junior Greg Little has developed into a reliable receiver for the Tar Heels. He leads the team with 49 catches for 478 yards and three touchdowns. Little ranks 9th in the league with 4.5 receptions per game. He has scored two touchdowns in the last four games, including a 15-yard reception at Virginia Tech and a 29-yard catch vs. Miami.

• Against FSU and VT, Little posted 204 yards of total offense (108 vs. FSU; 96 at VT). He had 60 yards receiving and a season-best 48 yards rushing against the Seminoles. He accounted for 58 of the Tar Heels’ 80 yards on their opening drive, catching three passes for 53 yards, then scoring on a 5-yard run for his sixth career rushing TD and first this season.

• Against Virginia, Little matched his career high with eight catches for 63 yards. He also had eight catches for 45 yards in the win at Connecticut.

Yates In North Carolina Record Book

• Junior quarterback T.J. Yates, who has proven to be one of the most accurate passers in UNC history, is one of only two quarterbacks in UNC history to throw for 5,000 yards.

• For the season, Yates is 182 of 304 for 1,673 yards, 10 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He became just the second player in Carolina history to surpass 5,000 career passing yards in the win vs. Duke. In the UNC career record book, Yates ranks second in completions, second in touchdowns, second in attempts, second in passing yards, and third in completion percentage.

• In Carolina’s 31-13 win over Boston College, Yates was 23 of 34 for 182 yards, but threw three


• In the 33-24 win over No. 12 Miami, Yates was 17 of 31 for 213 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. He completed passes to nine different receivers.

• Yates had a strong game at Virginia Tech, throwing two touchdowns for the first time since the ECU game. He was 18 of 28 for 131 yards and led the Tar Heels on three scoring drive of 78 yards or more.

• Against FSU, Yates tossed his first touchdown in three games with a 13-yard strike to tight end Ed Barham. He also scored his fourth career rushing touchdown vs. the Seminoles.

• A native of Marietta, Ga., Yates was 14 of 20 for 118 yards in just over one half of action vs. Georgia Southern.

• Yates completed 11 of 26 (.423) attempts for 137 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in a 24-7 loss to the Yellow Jackets. The Georgia Tech game was just the third time in Yates’ career that he has failed to complete at least 50 percent of his attempts (minimum of 10 att.). He was 11 of 24 (.458) in a season-ending win over Duke in 2007, 10 of 22 (.455) in a loss last year to NC State and 9 of 20 (.450) this season vs. The Citadel, a game in which UNC receivers dropped seven passes. The NC State game was his first start after fracturing his ankle earlier in the 2008 season. A week after the loss to the Wolfpack, Yates completed 15 of 19 for 190 yards and three touchdowns vs. Duke. A week after The Citadel game, Yates was 23 of 32 for 233 yards and a touchdown at Connecticut.

• Yates went 19-for-24 for 227 yards and two touchdowns against East Carolina. He completed a

career-high 79.2 percent of his passes against the Pirates.

• Yates was 23 of 32 for 233 yards and a touchdown in leading Carolina to a 12-10 come-from-behind victory at Connecticut. On Carolina’s game-tying touchdown drive, Yates completed a 24-yard pass to Todd Harrelson on 3rd-and-13, a 21-yard pass to Erik Highsmith on 3rd-and-18, a 19-yard pass to Zack Pianalto to set up 1st-and-goal and a 2-yard touchdown pass to Pianalto on 3rd-and-goal.

• Yates went 9-for-20 for 114 yards in the win over The Citadel. Carolina receivers dropped seven passes in the game. Yates tossed two touchdown passes and recorded his eighth career multiple TD passing game.

• Yates missed half of the 2008 season with an ankle injury, but still managed to record a pass efficiency mark of 153.04 last year.

• Seventeen of T.J. Yates’ 35 career touchdown passes have gone for 25 yards or more -- seven were longer than 50. Against ECU, Yates connected with Jheranie Boyd on a 59-yard touchdown pass and at Georgia Tech he connected with Erik Highsmith on a 40-yard scoring play.

Running Game Improving

• The tailback combination of Ryan Houston and Shaun Draughn have accounted for 1,139 of Carolina’s 1,487 rushing yards this season (77 percent) and eight of 11 touchdowns. With Draughn now out for the season after fracturing his shoulder blade vs. Duke, Houston has moved into the starting role.

• Houston scored twice against Boston College, but was slowed with a quad injury and finished with 18 carries for 45 yards. He now has nine touchdowns, which ranks sixth in the league.

• In the win over No. 12 Miami, Houston had 76 yards on 24 carries, gaining 33 of his yards on the final scoring drive of the game.

• Against Duke, Houston rushed for a career-high 164 yards on a career-high 37 carries. His previous bests were 74 yards vs. Georgia Tech in 2008 and 18 carries vs. Virginia Tech in 2007 and 2009. The 37 carries were the most by at Tar Heel running back since Natrone Means had 37 carries vs. Duke in 1990.

• Draughn (77) and Houston (66) combined to rush for 143 yards on 30 carries in the win at Virginia Tech.

• Draughn rushed for a season-best 126 yards on 23 carries vs. FSU for his second 100-yard game on the season and the fifth of his career. His previous best this year was 118 yards against The Citadel.

• Carolina’s wide receivers accounted for 109 rushing yards against FSU (48 by Greg Little, 40 by

Johnny White and 21 by Jheranie Boyd).

• Houston, who ran for a season-best 56 yards vs. Georgia Southern, recorded his first career three touchdown game with runs of 1, 7 and 1 yards in the first half. He is the first Tar Heel with three scores on the ground since Ronnie McGill against Furman in 2006. Seven of Houston’s 16 career TDs have been from one yard, including two against GSU, and the 7-yarder marked his longest career scoring run. Houston also added his first career catch against Georgia Southern, a 13-yarder in the first quarter.

Houston Has No Problem In The Red Zone

• Junior tailback Ryan Houston (Charlotte, N.C.) has 18 career rushing touchdowns, none longer than seven yards. Houston’s 18 career touchdown runs have totaled 46 yards (2.6 avg.). He has scored from one yard out on nine different occasions.

Special Teams Notes

• North Carolina is ranked 22nd in the country in punt returns with a 13.3 average. Da’Norris Searcy, who also serves as Carolina’s starting safety, is ranked 8th in the nation with a 15.0 average. A junior from Decatur, Ga., had not returned punts since high school in 2006. In the first game of the year, he returned a punt 77 yards for a touchdown vs. The Citadel.

• Sophomore place-kicker Casey Barth, who came to UNC as a walk-on in 2008 and was awarded a scholarship prior to the 2009 season, has connected on 18 of 21 attempts with a long of 42 yards. He has made 14 consecutive field goals, which is the third-longest streak in UNC history. A native of Wilmington, N.C., Barth is the younger brother of Connor Barth, Carolina’s all-time leader in made field goals, who is now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Connor made a school-record 19-straight field goals at UNC from 2005-07.

• Casey Barth is eighth in the country with 1.64 field goals per game.

• Redshirt sophomore Grant Schallock, who came to Carolina as a walk-on in 2007 and was awarded a scholarship prior to the start of the 2009 season, ranks eighth in the league with a 40.2 average.

• Carolina is 14th in the country in punt return defense, allowing an average of 4.7 yards per return

Link to entire UNC game notes

Thanks to NC State and North Carolina Athletics for much of the information in this preview.

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