KENAN MEMORIAL STADIUM/CHAPEL HILL — UNC quarterback T.J. Yates and the Heels’ passing game finally started clicking Saturday as they lead 20-7 bolstered by three Miami turnovers.
Offensive coordinator John Shoop continued his innovative play design by using fake reverses to get receivers and backs open for short completions.
Kendric Burney picked off two passes, returning one for a touchdown, and Da’Norris Searcy also caught an interception to stall the Miami offense, which effectively moved the ball against UNC’s defense but managed only seven first-half points because of turnovers and miscues.
Key series of the half: Yates completed a pass that was nearly picked off to fullback Devon Ramsay and resulted in a 27 yard gain to get the offense going near the end of the first quarter. Yates completed four passes of more than 10 yards on the ensuing scoring drive, including a 28-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Greg Little on third down.
Little caught the slant pass and broke away from the one-on-one coverage to score the first points of the game.
But on Miami’s next possession, UNC defensive end Robert Quinn was called for a personal foul penalty on what looked like a brief exchange with Miami’s Orlando Franklin where both players smacked each other in the head.
Miami’s Jacory Harris completed a 29-yard screen pass to Damien Berry on the second play after the penalty, and Berry rushed for a touchdown a few plays later to tie the game.
Key stat of the half: A 26-yard rush by punter Matt Bosher on a fake punt caught UNC sleeping, but Harris threw his third pick of the half that was returned for a touchdown.
What to watch for in the second half: Who’s going to start moving the ball on the ground? Miami and UNC spent most of the game throwing down field, resulting in third-and-longs throughout the first half.
UNC’s offensive line just can’t seem to block Miami’s defensive tackles, who are crashing the center to swallow up the inside rushing attack. Miami, on the other hand, made plays running on the outside.
Harris has taken several shots down the field and three floated passes were picked off. Will the ‘Canes continue to look deep or switch to a conservative approach down 13 points?