University of Miami

Hurricanes meet No. 17 North Carolina in fight to stay alive in the ACC Coastal

Miami Hurricanes Tyre Brady misses a ball in the endzone at the end of the first quarter as they play the Virginia Cavaliers at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, November 7, 2015.
Miami Hurricanes Tyre Brady misses a ball in the endzone at the end of the first quarter as they play the Virginia Cavaliers at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, November 7, 2015. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Earlier this week, ESPN Stats & Info reported that of the four Atlantic Coast Conference football teams with a shot to win the Coastal Division, North Carolina – Miami’s 3:30 p.m. opponent Saturday in Chapel Hill – had a 91 percent chance, Pittsburgh had a six percent chance and Duke had a one percent chance.

The Hurricanes?

Three percent.

It’s no doubt higher than the chance Miami had two weeks ago to win the game against Duke just 10 miles up the road in Durham. Down 27-24 with six seconds left and about to receive a kickoff, the Canes pulled off their miracle eight-lateral touchdown for the victory.

No. 17 North Carolina (8-1, 5-0 ACC), ranked 23rd in the College Football Playoff system, has won eight consecutive games since losing the opener to South Carolina. As of Friday, UNC was favored over Miami (6-3, 3-2) by 13 points.

“That’s it? That’s the line this week?” an incredulous UM quarterback Brad Kaaya said with a chuckle, relaying the information to nearby receiver Stacy Coley. “Really? That’s funny… I mean, I never pay attention to that stuff. It’s cool… It’s straight. I think we were [underdogs by] like 13 or something against Duke.

“Hey, it is what it is. I’m not a statistician. I’m not a math major. …I just play football and control what I can control.’’

Last week, seven days after falling on that final play to UM, Duke got crushed 66-31 by UNC.

The Tar Heels would win the Coastal and clinch a spot in the Dec. 5 Dr. Pepper ACC Championship Game with a win over Miami on Saturday and a Pittsburgh loss to Duke. The Canes, however, would continue their quest for a Coastal title by defeating UNC and winning out against Georgia Tech at Sun Life Stadium and Pittsburgh on the road – coupled with another loss by the Tar Heels.

The game will be the final one for UNC at home this season, meaning the seniors will be honored as the Tar Heels look to go 7-0 at home for the first time since 1980.

One of those seniors is 6-2, 225-pound quarterback Marquise Williams, another Hurricane opponent who can dazzle with his arm and feet in a hurry-up offense. Williams, just the fifth quarterback in ACC history with at least 2,000 career rushing yards, also has the UNC record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback, with 28.

He has compiled six of Carolina’s 13 highest single-game performances in total offense – his latest gem being his best. Last week Williams was named the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback of the Week with a mind-boggling day against Duke.

Williams established school records in passing yards (494) and total yards (524) in the victory. He accounted for five touchdowns, four through the air.

His 494 aerial yards in less than three quarters (404 yards came by halftime) were the most since former UM quarterback Stephen Morris set the ACC best of 566 in 2012. Williams’ touchdowns included a flea-flicker for 89 yards on UNC’s first offensive snap, and passes of 74 and 49 yards.

UNC finished the game with 704 yards.

“I’m always dialed in,’’ Williams said after the game.

The Tar Heels are 12th in the nation in scoring offense, averaging 40.1 yards a game, and 22nd in scoring defense, allowing 18.6 points a game.

And Kaaya, who is one of six quarterbacks nationally this season with at least 2,000 yards passing, 10 touchdown passes and fewer than three interceptions, will have to contend with the third-ranked pass defense.

No worries, according to UM players. They know who they’re about to meet and they’re looking forward to it.

It’s going to be fun,’’ said UM linebacker Jermaine Grace. “We’re back in the same hotel we went to for the Duke game. There’s no doubt in my mind. We’ve been winning since Coach Scott started being coach and we’re not letting down now.’’

Interim Miami head coach Larry Scott, who has won both games since predecessor Al Golden was fired Oct. 25, said he felt the players had a good week of practice.

“The guys know we have a great challenge ahead of us, being that we’re going to their place. We’re up for it.

“I told the guys, ‘In this month at this time, this is right where you want to be.’

“They’re all fired up.”

Saturday: Miami at No. 17 North Carolina

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m.; Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill, N.C.

TV/radio: ESPNU; WQAM 560; WURN 1020 (Spanish); WVUM 90.5 FM.

Favorite: North Carolina by 13.

Records: Miami 6-3 (3-2 ACC); North Carolina 8-1 (5-0 ACC).

Series: Miami leads 9-8.

Miami injuries: Questionable — OL Joe Brown (concussion); OL Trevor Darling (foot). Out —LB Raphael Kirby (knee); LB Marques Gayot (neck); LB Darrion Owens (knee); RB Gus Edwards (foot).

North Carolina injuries: Questionable — DE Dajaun Drennon (undisclosed). Out — OL Jared Cohen (undisclosed); DL Aaron Crawford (foot); WR Taylor Vippolis (undisclosed); DB Cameron Albright (knee); LB Joe Jackson (neck); OL Will Dancy (undisclosed).

PROBABLE UM STARTERS

OFFENSE

DEFENSE

P

NO.

PLAYER

YR.

P

NO.

PLAYER

YR.

QB

15

Brad Kaaya

So.

DE

9

Chad Thomas

So.

RB

2

Joe Yearby

So.

NT

93

Calvin Heurtelou

Sr.

FB

40

Gage Batten

Jr.

DT

92

Courtel Jenkins

So.

WR

6

Herb Waters

Sr.

LB

35

Trent Harris

So.

WR

11

Rashawn Scott

Sr.

LB

51

Juwon Young

So.

TE

5

Standish Dobard

Jr.

LB

5

Jermaine Grace

Jr.

LT

73

Trevor Darling

So.

LB

8

A. Muhammad

So.

LG

52

Kc McDermott

So.

CB

3

Tracy Howard

Sr.

C

68

Nick Linder

So.

CB

1

Artie Burns

Jr.

RG

50

Daniel Isidora

Jr.

S

25

Dallas Crawford

Sr.

RT

66

Sunny Odogwu

So.

S

2

Deon Bush

Sr.

PK

15

Michael Badgley

So.

P

16

Justin Vogel

Jr.

PROBABLE NORTH CAROLINA STARTERS

OFFENSE

DEFENSE

P

NO.

PLAYER

YR.

P

NO.

PLAYER

YR.

QB

12

Marquise Williams

Sr.

DE

17

Dajaun Drennon

So.

TB

34

Elijah Hood

So.

DT

98

Justin Thomason

Sr.

WR

84

Bug Howard

Jr.

DT

90

Nazair Jones

So.

WR

3

Ryan Switzer

Jr.

DE

45

Mikey Bart

Jr.

WR

14

Quinshad Davis

Sr.

LB

23

Cayson Collins

So.

TE

81

K. Singleton

Sr.

LB

10

Jeff Schoettmer

Sr.

LT

75

Bentley Spain

So.

LB

42

Shakeel Rashad

Sr.

LG

70

Caleb Peterson

Jr.

CB

6

M.J. Stewart

So.

C

68

Lucas Crowley

Jr.

CB

2

Des Lawrence

Jr.

RG

78

Landon Turner

Sr.

FS

3

Sam Smiley

Sr.

RT

71

Jon Heck

Jr.

SS

15

Donnie Miles

So.

PK

24

Nick Weller

Jr.

P

5

Joey Mangill

Jr.

  Comments