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UNC Looks to Reclaim Victory Bell

Sharon Thorsland
September 21, 2017 - 7:06 am

It's North Carolina versus Duke in an ACC showdown this Saturday!  So why aren't you excited?  Oh, that's right – it's football, not basketball. And maybe it's because the Tar Heels are just 1-2 on the season and as usual, seem to have a really bad defense.  But this is still a Coastal Division conference match-up, and Duke is actually pretty good.  And the Tar Heels finally won a game, dismantling Old Dominion 53-23.  The Blue Devils are undefeated at 3-0, coming off an impressive 34-20 win over Baylor.

 

So why is Duke so good this season?  Defense.  The Blue Devils are giving up just 223 yards a game, that's 7th in the nation, and boast the country's number one rushing defense, allowing just under 48 yards a contest on the ground. They've forced eight turnovers, including a pair of interceptions returned for touchdowns, and how about this – their opponents' third down conversion rate is just 12.2 percent, that's second best in the nation!  They have an outstanding front seven, led by middle linebacker Ben Humphreys, he's second on the team in tackles and has a pick six.  Defensive tackle Mike Ramsey anchors the line, he has a pair of sacks, and the secondary features a pair of veteran safeties in Alonzo Saxton and Jeremy McDuffie.  Cornerback Mike Gilbert has two interceptions.  They'll face a UNC offense led by freshman quarterback Chaz Surratt, who is improving every week.  And the running game is getting better – the Heels managed just 17 yards rushing against Louisville but then racked up 254 yards and six rushing touchdowns against ODU, two each from Jordon Brown and Michael Carter.

 

As good as Duke's defense is, their offense isn't far behind.  The Blue Devils are averaging 45 points a game, led by their outstanding rushing attack, which has rolled up over 240 yards a contest.  They feature a two headed monster at running back in senior Shaun Wilson and freshman Brittain Brown.  The pair has combined for 539 rushing yards and six touchdowns.  And don't forget about quarterback Daniel Jones.  The sophomore has picked up 154 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.  That's bad news for UNC, who's giving up 193 rushing yards per game, that's 93rd in the nation!  T.J. Rahming is Jones' favorite target, he's got 18 catches on the season. Speedsters Aaron Young and Chris Taylor each average over 16 yards a grab.

 

The Tar Heels are looking for some revenge after Duke pulled the surprising upset last November, coming back from 14 down to edge UNC 28-27 in Durham.  It won't be easy to win back the Victory Bell – but I think the Heels can pull it out. Go Tar Heels!

 

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