Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 10/15/13
Darius Lipford (23) and Tim Scott (7) missing the tackle on Shane Carden (5) during the East Carolina vs. North Carolina football game on September 28th, 2013 (Photo credit: Gerry Broome/AP) After starting the year 1-4, the 2013 football season gets no easier for the North Carolina Tar Heels. In comes arguably the toughest test Carolina will face all year – the No. 10 Miami Hurricanes. For the first time in the last four years, the Hurricanes (5-0, 1-0 ACC) are ranked in the top-10 and looked to have gained some swagger back from the glory days of the 1980’s and 90’s when they were simply known as, “The U”. On the other side, the Tar Heels have not won a game since the first weekend in September against Middle Tennessee State almost six weeks ago. Nothing has seemed to click for Carolina after five games, as the defense is struggling to stop opponents from scoring, while the vaunted spread offense that head coach Larry Fedora installed in 2012 is just a mere shadow of itself so far in 2013. However, with an easier second half of the schedule, if North Carolina can spring the upset over the Hurricanes it could easily jump-start their season and propel them to their first bowl game in the Fedora era. It will be a tough task, but if UNC does the following three things in front of their 65,000 fans at Kenan Stadium on Thursday night, they could beat a top-10 opponent for the first time since 2004 when they beat a Miami Hurricanes team ranked 3rd in the country. 1. Tackle, tackle, and tackle — Earlier this season, North Carolina coaches counted 21 missed tackles in a loss at Georgia Tech. In their very next game against East Carolina, the Tar Heels missed over 30 tackles in an embarrassing 55-31 loss at home to the Pirates. Add that to the fact that the Hurricanes average just over 45 points and 480 yards of total offense a game, and the Carolina defense is in for a very long night if they do not wrap up the Miami ball-carriers at first contact. To put it simply, the UNC defense has not shown the ability to be able to mask the tackling issues they have had so far this season by making big plays such as turnovers and/or sacks of the quarterback. As a result, if North Carolina misses as many tackles as they have throughout the first five games of the season, Miami running back Duke Johnson, who averages over 6.8 yards per carry, could have a career day and ruin any hopes of a Carolina upset. 2. Run the ball…effectively — In 2012, the North Carolina offense had one of the best rushing attacks in the ACC behind Giovani Bernard, who led the conference in rushing yards with 1,228 and later went on to be the first running back taken in the 2013 NFL draft. Coming into this season, Coach Fedora and staff knew it was going to be a challenge replacing Bernard’s production, but they also thought Carolina had the personnel to get the job done. So far, the UNC quartet of running backs A.J. Blue, Romar Morris, Khris Francis and T.J. Logan have yet to bring any real production to the running game. Some of the rushing issues could be blamed on the inexperienced offensive line, while other times it seems as if the running backs just are not making defenders miss or getting up the field in a timely fashion in order to keep the chains moving. Nevertheless, there is too much talent on this offense to rank dead last in rushing in the ACC, a spot UNC currently holds. This is not an impossible task against a Miami defense that has let up close to 170 rushing yards per game in 2013. Not only will a good rushing attack help North Carolina stay balanced on offense and keep the Miami defense guessing, but it will also help keep the Hurricanes’ offense off the field – a recipe for success in order for the Tar Heels to cook up an upset. 3. Win the turnover battle — The biggest equalizer in all of football seems to be turnovers. No matter what the talent discrepancy is between two teams, turnovers can quickly level the playing field. Carolina has not been successful at forcing turnovers so far this year, having only five takeaways this season – yet another ACC statistical category in which UNC ranks last. However, Miami has turned the ball over 10 times already this season, which would seem to be the ***** in the armor of an offense that has otherwise been close to flawless this year. Whether it be interceptions or forcing fumbles, the Tar Heels are going to have to force at least a couple of turnovers in this game to flip field position and give their offense a short field to make scoring touchdowns easier. On the flip side, UNC quarterback Bryn Renner and the rest of the offense is going to have to take care of the football – something Renner has been notoriously good at through his years at the helm of the Carolina offense. Follow isportsweb on twitter If North Carolina can limit their missed tackles on defense, while running the ball effectively and win the turnover battle, they have a great shot at pulling the upset over the undefeated Hurricanes. In what figures to be a great atmosphere at Kenan Stadium for the Tar Heels’ first home night game since 2009, this could have all the makings of a classic upset that would surely get the North Carolina football season headed in the right direction after a rough start. PREDICTION: North Carolina will be able to move the ball effectively against Miami; however the defense will not be able to come up with a big stop when they need it most late in the game. Final Score: Miami – 34 UNC – 28 Read more rumors, news and opinion on our North Carolina football page

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

LeBron James and Kyrie Irving ate the Celtics’ heart during the second half of Game 4

NFL to reportedly bring back fun touchdown celebrations

Mike Trout explains why he doesn’t look at advanced stats

Reds’ Joey Votto shuts down heckler with “I remember when you used to be thin”

Rob Gronkowski gets new contract, chance to double salary

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Padres offering $99 ticket plan for five June wins or 16 June games – whatever happens first

Former Jets WR Devin Smith found out he was cut via Twitter

Roger Goodell tweets ‘Key & Peele’ joke about relaxed celebration rules

Martavis Bryant: ‘I know this is my last chance’

Glennon: ‘This is my year and I’m not worried about the future’

Durant apologizes for response to fans complaining about blowouts

The 'Walk on home, boy' quiz

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Dejounte Murray gets his calls blocked twice

It's reality check time for the Texas Rangers

Box Score 5/23: Preds, Warriors move on to respective Finals

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Why wait? Our too soon Cavaliers-Warriors NBA Finals preview

NBA Weekend Awards: Who will take a bite of the Snow White Crystal Apple?

The 'How two award snubs might shake up the NBA' quiz

Preparing for the BIG3: Q&A with BIG3 co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz

Two months in and Nintendo's Switch dominates 2017 video game market

Getaway Day: League leaders falter allowing new teams to surge ahead

Best of Yardbarker: Gregg Popovich doesn't mince words

College Football News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Dejounte Murray gets his calls blocked twice

It's reality check time for the Texas Rangers

The 'Walk on home, boy' quiz

NBA Weekend Awards: Who will take a bite of the Snow White Crystal Apple?

Why wait? Our too soon Cavaliers-Warriors NBA Finals preview

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

The 'How two award snubs might shake up the NBA' quiz

Preparing for the BIG3: Q&A with BIG3 co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz

Two months in and Nintendo's Switch dominates 2017 video game market

Getaway Day: League leaders falter allowing new teams to surge ahead

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker