5 Reasons Why UNC Football Fans Should Be Optimistic

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Sep 27, 2014; Clemson, SC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Marquise Williams (12) throws the ball while being pressured by Clemson Tigers defensive end Corey Crawford (93) during the first quarter at Clemson Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Run defense and pass rush were much better

Against the East Carolina Pirates, UNC gave up 7.5 yards per rush and 343 total yards on the ground. One week later, things looked much better against Clemson. The Tigers could only muster 92 rushing yards and 2.2 yards per rush. That is a huge turnaround which can be attributed to much better play from Tar Heel linebackers Jeff Schoettmer and Travis Hughes. Against ECU, Hughes did not record a tackle. He was much more active against Clemson, recording eight tackles, including six solo tackles. Schoettmer was even better, with a team high nine tackles including eight solo stops.

There were less missed tackles against Clemson, which can be attributed to better team tackling from the Tar Heels. All the players swarmed together to stop Clemson rushers and receivers and gang tackled much better as a whole. It was good to see the Tar Heels improve so much in that area in just a week after the ECU game.

The defensive line also came alive against the Tigers. UNC recorded three sacks against Clemson, all from different players. Justin Thomason, Nazair Jones and Dajaun Drennon all played well and recorded a sack. UNC now has seven sacks on the season, all from different players. It would be great if all of UNC’s pass rushers could get going in the same game to really turn up the pressure on the opposing QB. Both the rush defense and pass rush showed huge improvements from the ECU to Clemson games.