UNC lead the all-time series by a 5-4 margin, but that edge is in serious jeopardy if the Tar Heels’ previous performances this season are any indication. Hurricanes’ fans have been disappointed as well with their team’s play, but Miami is coming off a 14-13 win over improving Houston.
Meanwhile, the Tar Heels’ opponents so far this season have a combined 17-3 record, and three are ranked in this week’s Top 25. But they’re returning to action following a bye week stained by a thorough 52-7 beat down at Clemson the week before.
“[UNC] is a talented team, and I know it’s a hungry team,” Miami coach Larry Coker said. “It seems like we could be just the meal they need to get back on track.
“After the open date, I’m sure they’ve had a chance to tweak some things after the tough loss to Clemson. So there will be some mysteries there. We’re prepared for a lot of things.”
UNC went back to training camp mode for a few days last week, in hopes of correcting severe defensive problems and jumpstarting a somewhat stagnant offense.
There was a lot to fix, and a disgruntled fan base is anxious to see improvement.
Tar Heel head coach John Bunting said, “The players don’t feel good about the way they played against Clemson, and the players want to play a heck of a lot better this week.
“Beyond the Virginia Tech game, we have had defensive breakdowns. It’s really a team thing. You really need to have a great understanding where you need to fit to stop the run no matter what front or coverage you’re in.
“Offensively, we just need take advantage of the opportunities that are presented. We need to minimize mistakes.”
There are positives not reflected in the Tar Heels’ current win-loss record.
Carolina has allowed just four sacks – a mark that comes in this week at 16th best in the nation.
On special teams, UNC leads the ACC in kickoff coverage, punt return average and field goal percentage.
Having already faced the league’s two best defenses in Clemson and Virginia Tech, Carolina’s 316.8 average yards of total offense is seventh-best in the ACC.
“We’re going to be in for a tremendous challenge,” Coker said. “I think it’s going to be a hard fought game.
Bunting said, “We’ll be going up against one of the great defenses in the country in Miami, so we’re going to have to do a great job. And we’re going to have to once and for all stand up defensively to be competitive.”