Back Hot Read: Heels Run Over, Past Canes

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Hot Read: Heels Run Over, Past Canes

By Dave Holcomb
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Dave Holcomb recaps North Carolina's 62-26 romp over Miami.

As the saying goes, there are two sides to every story. That was particularly true when the No. 17 North Carolina Tar Heels visited the No. 10 Miami Hurricanes on Saturday evening.

For the first time ever, these two teams met while both ranked, but only one program left the stadium deserving to keep a spot in the Top 25. North Carolina demolished Miami with its running game, as the Hurricanes fell in another embarrassingly lopsided late-season affair. The Tar Heels racked up 778 yards on their way to a 62-26 victory.

Here are five observations from the North Carolina win:

Javonte Williams Shines in Record-Setting Performance

Coming into the game, Javonte Williams was two touchdowns shy of tying the school’s record for the most touchdowns in a single season. He reached the end zone twice in the first quarter to become the first North Carolina player with 21 scores since Don McCauley in 1970.

Late in the fourth quarter, Williams broke the 50-year old mark with another short-yardage touchdown, his 22nd of the season.

In addition to his three scores, Williams rushed for 236 yards and averaged 10.3 yards per carry, but that wasn’t enough for Williams to be the most impressive back in the game.

North Carolina becomes first Power 5 team with two 200-yard rushers in a single game since 2012

With Michael Carter also gashing Miami for big running plays all day, North Carolina became the first Power 5 team since Wisconsin in the 2012 Big Ten title game to have two running backs each rush for 200 yards.

Incredibly, Williams and Carter both eclipsed the 200-yard mark before the fourth quarter. At one point midway through the third quarter, Williams and Carter were each averaging more than 13 yards per carry.

Carter finished with 308 rushing yards, averaging 12.8 yards per attempt, and two touchdowns. North Carolina racked up 564 yards on the ground.

Miami Linebackers & Safeties Couldn’t Have Been Worse

I always like to start my game breakdowns with the winning team, but boy, was it tempting to start with Miami with this analysis. As great as the UNC ground attack was, the other side of the story is Miami’s defense was just flat-out awful.

The Hurricanes were out of position all afternoon. Their linebackers were passive against the run, allowing Williams and Carter to easily get to the edge. Miami safeties took poor angles, leading to large running lanes.

On two occasions in the third quarter, North Carolina committed a holding penalty to be pushed back ten yards, but on the very next play, Miami allowed the Tar Heels to rush for 20-plus yards and a first down.

The 778 yards North Carolina posted broke the record for the most ever allowed in Miami’s history. Embarrassing only begins to describe how the Hurricanes defense should feel following this performance.

Sam Howell Also Turns in Historic Goal-line Performance

Quarterback Sam Howell only attempted 19 passes and rushed for just five yards, and yet he still managed to post a very memorable performance. That’s because Howell recorded a passing, rushing and receiving touchdown in the blowout.

All of the scores came near the goal line.

Howell rushed for a 2-yard touchdown on the first drive of the second half. That possession was important because Miami had scored just before halftime.

With the game decided early in the fourth, North Carolina dove into its bag of tricks and ran its version of the “Philly Special” with Howell the receiver in the end zone. The quarterback accounted for a touchdown in his usual way, scrambling to find Kamari Morales through the air for a 5-yard score later in the fourth.

Howell finished 14 of 19 with 223 yards to go with his touchdowns.

Questions Loom for Miami With Pending Late-Season Collapse

This is a different Miami team. Or is it? Unfortunately for the Hurricanes, it’s hard to tell because we’ve seen this story previously.

The performance Saturday was so ugly, it was reminiscent of the Pinstripe Bowl against Wisconsin in 2018. Or maybe some people thought of the 2017 ACC Championship against Clemson.

From a pure point differential perspective, Saturday against North Carolina was worse than either of those games.

This Miami loss will undoubtedly cost them a chance to play in the Orange Bowl. How the Hurricanes respond to this adversity will be key to Manny Diaz continuing to build this program. He’s head coach right now because the Hurricanes did not respond the right way after those other two late-season blowout losses.