University of North Carolina Tar Heels (0-2)
Head Coach: Butch Davis - 4th Year (20-20)
Schedule and Results
9/4 – vs LSU (Atlanta) – L 30-24 (0-1)
9/18 – vs Georgia Tech – L 30-24 (0-2)
QB T.J. Yates is a four year starter, and he looks like he's finally put it all together. He's got poise in the pocket and doesn't get rattled when he faces some pressure, and he has faced some pressure having been sacked 5 times in two games. He's been able to place the ball where it needs to be for his receivers to make plays. Count me among the people that think he's for real. He ranks 19th among qualified players in passer rating, is averaging 8.9 yards per pass attempt, has 4 Tds and no interceptions, and is completing 65.7% of his passes. He could very well be the best QB Rutgers faces this year.
Yates' favorite target is TE Zack Pianalto who leads the team in receptions with 15 (almost a quarter of his throws have been intended for Pianalto) so far this year. He and Erik Highsmith have combined for 22 receptions, 243 yards, and 2 TDs. Jheranie Boyd is UNC's best deep threat and leading receiver with 221 yards, but was held catchless in the Georgia Tech game. Yates has completed passes to six other receivers, but none has more than 50 receiving yards.
Johnny White is the leading rusher with 142 yards on 25 carries. He only got 8 carries against LSU before being lost for the rest of the game to injury. Last week he was able to stay in for the whole game and gained 113 yards on 17 carries. Despite White's best efforts UNC only has 167 rushing yards this year, thanks mostly due to the five sacks the offensive line has given up.
UNC is converting only 33% of third downs so far this year, with an average distance of 8 yards to go.
UNC is still breaking in its new secondary, which is made up entirely of backups. Opponents are completing 72% of their passes against the UNC defense, averaging 9.1 yards a completion, and have only broken up two passes (one of which was done by a linebacker). Part of that can be attributed to UNC not being able to get much pressure on the quarterback. The lone interception the defense has this year was due to Jordan Jefferson throwing the ball into a sea of blue jerseys to avoid a sack. The defensive front has not been very effective so far this year surrendering 162 yards on the ground to LSU, and 372 more against the Georgia Tech triple option, opponents are averaging 5.4 yards per rush. Three of UNC's five leading tacklers are defensive linemen.
Opponents are converting 46% of their third downs, with an average distance of 5 yards to go.
The Special Teams
UNC's special teams played better against Georgia Tech than against LSU. UNC has yet to actually return a punt, having forced seven with four going out of bounds and one going for a touchback. UNC is averaging 43.7 yards per punt, with opponents averaging only37.6. They're averaging 20 yards on each kickoff return. Opponents are averaging 24.6 yards per punt return, with a TD, and 22.4 yards on kickoff returns. UNC kicker Casey Barth is 2/2 in FG attempts, both coming from 20 yards.