"They're pretty balanced. They do what they do and they do it extremely well," Crum said. "They run the ball well to set up the pass, or they can pass it to set up the run. It's just a matter of us trying to come to work and try to stop what it is they do."
Bruton said that the Irish have to prepare for the multiple styles.
"They've shown capabilities to be very balanced, have a big play in the running game, the passing game, special teams. They've shown that they can play with anybody, especially their two receivers," he said. "The different styles of backs also can cause a little problem especially for us on defense because they all have different styles and different flavors of how they run the ball and hit the hole. But we've seen plenty of teams. The route combinations are not something we're entirely unaware of. We've seen them throughout the five weeks that we've played. Basically they're a real good team. They've played well in many games. It's going to be a good competition, good game."
North Carolina will use three running backs that all do different things.
"All the guys give you a different dimension of them running the ball," Crum said. "You definitely have to be prepared to know when to run through, know when to break down, know when a guy is going to try to run over you. So, yeah, it definitely adds that dimension to the game."
The Notre Dame offense has enjoyed success as opposing defenses have done their best to take Golden Tate out of the game, giving Michael Floyd more opportunities, of which he has taken advantage. The Tar Heels have a similar dynamic as receivers Brandon Tate and Hakeem Nicks are both capable of hurting you and preventing the Irish from giving one special attention.
"They both have big-play capabilities. They've both shown that they can play with the best guys. They've shown they can break tackles, catch the deep ball, turn a short intermediate route into a big play," said Bruton. "But I feel that we're just going to play them how we play everybody. And if things hit the fan, we'll adjust accordingly."
Bruton is one of the nation's top gunners on the punt team and with a dangerous punt returner like Brandon Tate, Bruton's role will be even more important this week.
"(Tate) sets up his blocks really well. He's a speed guy. He's real fast. He's real strong. He runs through a lot of arm tackles on film. He's a confident returner. You can tell that by how he plays," said Bruton. "Two years ago when they played here, it was him who broke the kickoff return for a touchdown against us. So he showed that he had big-play capability even when he was a younger guy."
After the Tar Heels blocked three punts last week, Bruton and his opposite gunner, Mike Anello, could find themselves alone with Tate in space as the rest of the coverage team will be sure to hold their blocks.
"The guys on the line, their first job is, of course, protect the punt, then get out in cover," Bruton said. "Me and Anello, we don't have any protection worries, so we just go down there and hopefully make the play like we've always done."
The Irish will be looking for their first road win of the season after starting the year unbeaten at home.
"It's different going away when you have 200 fans or something in the stands, and the only guys who are rooting for you are those fans and the 70 guys who are with you on the trip," said Bruton. "You've just got to go out there and give it all you got and come home to a happy campus."
Crum sees the game as an opportunity to prove that Notre Dame can win away from home.
"It's definitely the next step for us," he said. "We've shown playing at home we've done pretty good. So now this is the next phase in this team growing up."
Bruton added, "We've shown that we can play at home, play real well at home at times. We just got to translate it in an away game. It's still a hundred-yard football field, 54 yards sideline to sideline. It's the same thing we've all grown up doing, so we just got to put it together at a different stadium."
The defensive captains are aware that a win at North Carolina could vault Notre Dame into the Top 25, but neither is worried about that.
"Every game is important. The game we're worried about now is North Carolina," said Bruton. "Like I mentioned earlier, they're a very formidable opponent. They have great playmakers. So it's going to be a challenge. But I feel that we can come out and, you know, be very competitive and take care of business."