Ronald Curry – Curry completed 11 of 19 passes for 217 yards and three scores. He has played very well going back to the Virginia game but he only played the first half against the Cavs (injury) and just over a half at Clemson (also an injury). His 11-yard TD run was classic Curry as he must have run past every Blue Devil defender as he zigzagged to the end zone. UNC fans should be thrilled with his recent success. Perhaps as a reward for all he has given this school and the model player he is off the playing surface, he will play the entire game against SMU.
Sam Aiken – Aiken has become Carolina's top receiver and has big time Sunday potential. He has excellent hands, runs crisp routes and has an incredible stride. Against Duke he hauled in seven balls for 156 yards and a pair of TD's.
Passing game – Curry and Darian Durant combined to complete 22 of 36 passes for 368 yards and four touches. They both threw with excellent precision and timed their throws well. Sure it was against Duke, but when considering UNC's passing attack 10 weeks ago, Saturday was a positive in every way.
Jacque Lewis – The true freshman had his best game as a Tar Heel running the ball 11 times for 97 yards including a touchdown. In fact, on one possession Carolina moved the ball 68 yards on just two plays – both runs by Lewis. He ran 40 yards on the first play and scored on the second from 28 yards out. He hit holes quickly and ran with nice balance.
Willie Parker – Parker scooted for 68 yards on 10 carries and scored a touchdown while showing glimpses of why he was so heralded coming out of high school. He hits holes hard and low to the ground. He shed tacklers and turned the corner well.
Julius Peppers – Peppers was all over the field although he made just four tackles. It sure seemed like he was in on or very near about 12 others.
David Thornton – Once again the senior linebacker led the Heels in tackles (with nine). When speaking with him, one gets the impression Thornton is enjoying himself as much as he ever has. A former walk on, Thornton embodies what the college experience should be for a student/athlete.
Students – Although the students were very late arriving, especially for Senior Day, they did an excellent job cheering on their team once the game got underway.
Victory Bell – For the 12th straight year, the Tar Heels will have the Victory Bell after beating their rivals from Durham. When one sees the cheerleaders ring the bell either after scores or when the team takes the field, the importance of retaining the bell becomes obvious.
No/short gains – Of Carolina's 39 rushing attempts, 17 went for one yard or less. Even though there were some nice long runs and the Heels totaled 192 yards for the afternoon, there is still plenty of room to improve. And remember, this was against winless Duke.
Andre Williams – Williams went from being the feature back during the winning streak to increasingly non-existent the last three games. He was improving with each outing but has clearly hit a wall and descended to the third tailback spot. Against the Devils, he ran the ball just twice for a single yard.
Cornerbacks – When was the last time a college football team went an entire season without getting an interception from a cornerback? If the Heels' corners don't pick one off against SMU the answer will be ‘UNC in 2001'. This group is the least aggressive corners in the ACC and probably beyond. With the exceptional athletic skills players like Michael Waddell possesses, it simply makes no sense.
Early 3rd quarter – Although it appeared as if the Tar Heels were in control of the game, they allowed Duke to cut the margin to seven at 24-17 with 10:08 left in the third quarter on its first possession of the second half. But the Heels then put it in gear and sealed the Devils' fate. However, they never should have been just a touchdown ahead into the third quarter.
The Tar Heels have this weekend off before finishing the regular season on Dec. 1 at home against Southern Methodist. With a win over SMU Carolina will become bowl eligible and have an excellent chance at the Peach or Tangerine Bowls. The game is slated for a noon start time and will not be on television.
Andrew Jones is in his sixth year covering football and basketball for Inside Carolina. He is also in his fourth year as a copy editor and staff writer for the Wilmington Star-News and hosts a nightly radio show on WAAV-AM980 in Wilmington. He has also written for ACCNews and once published The College Game and the former Total Sports. He can be reached via e-mail at: AJWAAV@aol.com.