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Wake Forest Football: Previewing the North Carolina Offense

The Heels have one of the best offenses in the nation

NCAA Football: Virginia Tech at North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Deacs are back in action this Saturday in Chapel Hill against the North Carolina Tar Heels. Last week’s bye came at a great time for the Wake Forest defense, because they are up against one of the best offenses in the nation this week. Let’s take a quick look at the UNC offense.

The Tar Heel’s offense has been incredibly good this season. Through 7 games, the Heels are 13th in the nation in scoring with 40.9 points per game and 6th in the nation in total yards with 537.9 yards per game. They are second in the ACC in scoring behind just Clemson and first in the conference in total offense. They also happen to be one of the most efficient teams in the nation, averaging the 4th best yards per play in FBS with 7.5. In their last 3 games, the Heels have scored 48, 41, and 56 points. Basically, their offense moves the ball at will and scores points in bunches.

Probably the most worrisome thing about going up against the Tar Heel offense is just how balanced they are. The Heels are 22nd in the nation in passing yards per game with 299, and they throw for 2.4 touchdowns per game. On the flip side, they are an even better rushing team, averaging 239.4 rushing yards per game (13th in FBS), 5.6 yards per carry (14th in FBS) and 3 rushing touchdowns per game (10th in FBS). With no apparent weaknesses and playmakers all over the field, the Deacs are going to have to play almost perfectly at every level to slow down the Heels.

In the passing game, everything starts with quarterback Sam Howell, who has completed 67% of his passes on the season for 2,081 yards, 17 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions. That puts him at 2nd in the ACC in both completion percentage and yards, and tied for first in touchdowns. I don’t think many would argue the statement that Howell is the second best quarterback in the ACC, obviously behind Trevor Lawrence. The biggest threat in the aerial attack is junior wideout Dyami Brown, who is one of the best receivers—if not the best receiver—in the ACC this season. Brown has caught 37 passes this season and is currently 9th in the nation and 2nd in the ACC (behind Clemson’s Amari Rodgers) in receiving yards with 666 yards (That’s not scary or anything). He is definitely a threat to score on any play and has caught 6 touchdown passes so far this season. Against the Deacs last season, Brown caught 3 passes for 84 yards and a touchdown.

If the passing attack wasn’t enough to worry about, the Heels also happen to have the best backfield in the ACC. The one-two punch combination of Javonte Williams and Michael Carter has run the ball 207 times this season for a combined 1,500 yards and 18 touchdowns. Williams currently leads the entire nation in total touchdowns with 17, 14 of which have come on the ground. He put on a show last weekend against the Blue Devils, scoring 4 first half touchdowns and finishing the game with 12 carries for 151 yards. Obviously if the Deacs want to beat the Heels in Chapel Hill, slowing down Williams is going to be a must. That is easier said than done, of course.

I hope the Wake Forest defense got a lot of good prep work in during the bye because they are going to have their hands full with the UNC offense this Saturday.