UNC Football: Who has the Edge?


Nov 9, 2013; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels wide receiver Bug Howard (84) with the ball as DVirginia Cavaliers safety Anthony Harris (8) defends in the first quarter at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
The turkey has been put away, all the relatives are heading back home and the Black Friday shopping is finished. Now its time for some football! UNC Duke kicks off Saturday afternoon in Kenan Stadium and promises to be an exciting game. To get you ready for the Battle for the Bell, here is a breakdown of “Who has the edge” in four facets of the game.

UNC Rushing vs. Duke Rushing Defense
What do the stats say?
UNC ranks 90th in the country with 139 yards per game. Duke is 65th in the country allowing 165 yards per game.

UNC’s rushing attack has slowly and steadily gotten better over the course of the season. Just TJ Logan and Marquise Williams alone ran for over 180 yards last weekend against ODU. Yes the opponent was Old Dominion, but nobody predicted at the beginning of the season that either of those two would contribute that much. But Duke’s defense is solid, and will be ready for UNC and all the read options they employ. Look for Marquise Williams to have some success scrambling for yards, but Logan and company to struggle to get going against Duke.

Verdict: Push

UNC Passing vs. Duke Pass Defense
What do the stats say?
UNC ranks 24th with 292 yards per game. Duke checks in at 55th allowing 255 yards per game.

UNC is one of the top passing teams in the ACC, and the 292 yards per game mark serves as nice support. Marquise Williams had struggled early in the season throwing the football but seemed to hit his stride last week. UNC’s talent on the outside, like Eric Ebron, Quinshad Davis, and Ryan Switzer, will be hard for Duke’s secondary to match up with. This one goes to the Tar Heels.

Verdict: UNC

Duke Rushing vs. UNC Rushing Defense
What do the stats say?
Duke ranks 57th in rushing with 179 yards per contest. UNC holds teams to 165 yards per game, good for 82nd in the country.

Duke has a talented stable of running backs to chose from, much like the Tar Heels have. Josh Snead and Juwan Thompson are just two of the names you will hear being called upon Saturday. Quarterbacks Anthony Boone and Brandon Connette also can move a little bit if you give them time. UNC’s front four have greatly improved since the ECU debacle, but still got pushed around by Pitt’s running backs in the second half. The edge here still goes to Duke for their ability to run from both the QB and RB position.

Verdict: Duke

Duke Passing vs. UNC Pass Defense
What do the stats say?
Duke finishes 57th in the country with 239 yards per game. UNC ranks 47th allowing 219 yards per game.

Duke has a rare tandem quarterback system with Brandon Connette and Anthony Boone. Both QBs have thrown for over 1200 yards this season, but the two combined have thrown 15 interceptions. You also can’t mention Duke’s passing attack without the name Jamison Crowder. He has caught over 1000 yards but is Duke’s only real threat at wideout. Where UNC has depth and talent at wide out, the Blue Devils basically have to lean on Crowder to do all the heavy lifting. The gameplan to stoping Duke is easy then- stop Crowder. Expect UNC’s much improved secondary to limit big plays for Duke, and look for Kareem Martin and co to get after Duke’s quarterbacks and force bad decisions.

Verdict: UNC