UNC leads the all-time series, 4-3, but the Tar Heels' last win over Miami occurred less than one week prior to the Kennedy assassination – a 27-16 victory in Chapel Hill on November 16, 1963. Carolina amassed 440 yards of total offense that day, but don't expect history to figure much in this year's renewal match-up.
Still as desperate as things have seemed from a UNC perspective, Carolina (3-4, 2-2) is in the league's seventh position – not exactly the cellar anymore – and currently with the nation's toughest schedule. A win Saturday and the Heels could actually separate themselves from the league's second division, with arguably the easiest part of their schedule remaining. But even with a loss, Carolina shouldn't slip much if at all, as eighth-place Clemson (3-4, 2-3) hosts sixth-place N.C. State (4-3, 3-2) this week, while ninth-place Maryland (3-4, 1-3) travels to Florida State.
Rushing the football is not exactly what the Hurricanes do best, and tailbacks No. 1 and No. 2, Frank Gore (#3, 5-10, 220, Jr.) and Tyrone Moss (#30, 5-10, 221, So.), have combined for 761 yards rushing this season, with each scoring four times. Gore has overcome two major knee injuries to lead the team, while Moss showed his skills last season in Gore's absence. Tailback/Fullback Quadtrine Hill (#23, 6-2, 221, Jr.) has just 15 rushes on the season, but he is getting 6.5 yards per run. As a team, Miami is averaging 146.5 yards per game on the ground, just eighth-best in the ACC. The starting fullback Talib Humphrey (#41, 6-2, 250, Sr.) has not touched the ball this season.
So much for missing 2003 NFL first-round draft pick Kellen Winslow, Jr. On Tuesday, UNC coach John Bunting called Kevin Everett (#84, 6-6, 251, Sr.) and Greg Olsen (#82, 6-5, 247, Fr.*) the best tight end tandem he had ever seen. With a tremendously talented offensive line and a fullback used solely for blocking, Miami will throw frequently to Everett and Olsen, the team's second- and fourth-leading receivers, respectively. Everett has 15 catches for 219 yards and Olsen has 12 receptions for 229 yards and a touchdown.
This unit has already had to overcome the season-ending injury to All-America candidate and potential first-round draft pick Eric Winston (#74, 6-7, 310, Jr.) at left tackle. But Tyler McMeans (#68, 6-5, 337, Jr.), who has also battled injury, returns this week. The reshuffled offensive line has survived and even thrived because of its overall versatility. Right tackle Chris Myers (#77, 6-5, 300, Sr.) is proof of that after moving to over to replace Rashad Butler (#64, 6-5, 286, Jr.), who missed the first four games with a sprained ankle, but is now back starting at left tackle. Along with Myers, center Joel Rodriquez (#70, 6-3, 292, Sr.) is also expected to battle for postseason honors this year. Left guard Tony Tella (#61, 6-5, 298, Jr.) excelled this spring and held off backup right guard Derrick Morse (#71, 6-5, 325, Fr.*) for a starting position.
From the strong side, Roger McIntosh (#50, 6-3, 237, Jr.), the most experienced of the group, is second on the team with 71 tackles and its co-leader with six tackles for loss. In the middle is Leon Williams (#44, 6-4, 237, Jr.) who is filled the spot vacated by All-America Jonathan Vilma. Tavares Gooden (#52, 6-1, 220, So.) ranks third on the team with 45 stops, and along with McIntosh, has five quarterback hurries.
Hester is one of the most dangerous weapons on a team with an already full arsenal. He set a school-record last week with a 100-yard touchdown return to open the game with N.C. State. Hester has also run three punts all the way back this season. Kicker Jon Peattie (#13, 6-3, 207, So.) is ranked fourth in the league in scoring, with nine field goals and 24 extra points. Although punter Brian Monroe (#39, 6-2, 202, So.) is averaging only 40.4 yards per kick, he has pinned opposing offenses inside their 10-yard line on 13 of his 31 attempts.