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Wake Forest Football: Previewing the North Carolina Defense

A quick look at the Tar Heel’s defense

NCAA Football: Military Bowl-North Carolina vs Temple Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

We covered the offense yesterday, so let’s just get straight into the UNC defense.

While the North Carolina offense has been one of the best in the whole nation this season, the Tar Heel defense has been pretty average. The Heels are 57th in the nation in scoring defense, giving up 27.6 points per game, and 47th in total defense, allowing 386 yards per game. Through the air, the Heels are giving up almost 240 yards per game (63rd in FBS), but holding opposing quarterbacks to a 55% completion rate (21st in FBS). On the ground, the Heels give up a little under 150 yards per game (56th in FBS) and 4.2 yards per carry (57th in FBS). Looking at the UNC schedule (Cuse, BC, VT, FSU, NC St., UVA, Duke), the Hokies are the only team the Heels have faced this season that are in the top 50 in total offense, and VT accumulated 495 yards and scored 45 points in that game. This may be a case where—based on the lackluster offenses of the opposition—the stats are not representative of the strength of the defense.

The Heels are once again led by everyone’s second favorite Surratt, Chazz Surratt. Through 7 games, Surratt has recorded a team high 54 total tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 4 sacks and 1 interception. He has gotten plenty of help from the Fox brothers, Tomon Fox and Tomari Fox. Tomon (linebacker) has recorded 25 total tackles, 8 tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks, while Tomari (defensive lineman) has recorded 37 total tackles, 6 tackles for loss, and 4 sacks.

In the secondary, the Heels have been hurt from a lack of consistency all season (this seems to be a trend for every team this year). Carolina lost D.J. Ford, Bryce Watts, and Javon Terry to opt out before the season started. Then Myles Wolfolk was declared academically ineligible. After a couple of injuries to Storm Duck and Kyler McMichael, the result is an inexperienced secondary with very little depth. This should be an area that the Deacs can take advantage of this Saturday.

Based on the strength of the offenses, this game is very likely going to be a high scoring shootout. I know that Dave Clawson will once again be looking to prove to Jay Bateman that stopping the Deacs is much harder when you don’t have their playbook.