Rashawn Jackson and the Cavs’ rushing attack will be challenged this week.
Coach Al Groh says the Tar Heel defense under new coordinator Chuck Pagano is quicker, stouter, and more aggressive. That may be, but East Carolina junior quarterback Patrick Pinkney still torched the young UNC secondary en route to C-USA Offensive Player of the Week honors. Pinkney passed for a career-high 406 yards last Saturday night in Greenville.
Pinkney also tossed a personal-best 3 TDs in the Pirates’ 34-31 win over North Carolina. He completed 31 of 41 passes without an interception in his first collegiate start, hurling touchdown passes of 78, 15, and 24 yards.
As it did a week before against James Madison, the UNC defense held the ECU running game in check by allowing just 64 yards on the ground and a 1.9 yards per carry average. Early in the season, the Heels have held two opponents to a meager 107 yards on the ground and a 2.8 YPC mark.
After an abysmal start in the season opener against Wyoming, the Virginia offense, and in particular the running game, came to life against a porous Duke defense last week. The Cavs netted 324 yards of total offense. Peter Lalich and Jameel Sewell combined for 191 passing yards on 22 of 32 attempts and the Virginia backs posted 157 rushing yards for a 5.8 YPC average.
Who will win the battle this weekend? Let’s take a closer look at the Heels’ defense.
- Five UNC defenders will be making their third career start against Virginia, one will be making his second career start, and linebacker Bruce Carter will be making his first.
- The 406 yards passing the Heels yielded to ECU on Saturday night was the most passing yards allowed by a Carolina defense since October 18, 2003 when Arizona State recorded 408 yards passing in a 33-31 win over UNC – a span of 42 games.
- North Carolina has held its first two opponents
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