The Miami Hurricanes are hosting the UNC Tar Heels on Thursday night. Here are 3 bold predictions for the Tar Heels at Hurricanes.
The Miami Hurricanes will host the UNC Tar Heels on Thursday, September 27th at 8pm eastern on ESPN. The 3-1 Hurricanes are ranked 17th per the S&P+ while the Tar Heels are sitting at 1-2 while ranked 78th overall. Miami could start N’Kosi Perry at quarterback while the Heels head football coach Larry Fedora is expected to start Nathan Elliott while playing Chazz Surratt, too.
The Hurricanes have dropped a game to the LSU Tigers in week 1 while UNC lost to the Cal Bears and East Carolina in weeks 1 and 2. The Hurricanes have struggled to consistently move the football with Malik Rosier as starting quarterback. The issues plagued Miami’s running game as much as its passing game with Rosier behind center.
With the fans covered at Hard Rock Stadium the noise could be deafening if the Hurricanes fans show up to the stadium on a Thursday night. Miami had rowdy crowds in 2017 against Virginia Tech and Notre Dame. A loud crowd could be beneficial to the ‘Canes defense and really hurt the communication of struggling quarterbacks in Elliott and Surratt.
The Hurricanes are sitting pre-game as 18 point favorites over UNC heading into the ballgame. Here are the 3 bold predictions heading into Thursday night.
3. Miami scores five TD’s on UNC
The Hurricanes have the 23rd ranked offense in the country per the S&P+. The UNC defense is ranked 76th per the S&P+ and doesn’t have the athleticism to stop the Hurricanes dynamic wide receiver corps that’s led by sophomore burner Jeff Thomas. Thomas has averaged 26.3 yards per catch with two touchdowns in 2018. He’s joined by the big bodied Lawrence Cager who is averaging 19.3 yards per catch and has hauled in four touchdowns of his own.
With Ahmmon Richards out injured the ‘Canes have turned their attention to freshman Brian Hightower (20 yards per catch) and 2017’s hero Darrell Langham (15 yards per catch). Freshman tight end Brevin Jordan has only averaged 9.9 yards per reception but has scored three times for the Hurricanes in four games. He’s joined in his position room by Will Malory, another freshman, who has also scored.
It won’t just be through the air for Miami, either. The three-headed monster in the backfield in Travis Homer, Deejay Dallas, and Lorenzo Lingard has picked up steam in recent weeks. The trio has combined for 636 rushing yards and four touchdowns on the ground.
2. Rosier, Surratt will play Thursday
N’Kosi Perry and Nathan Elliott might be the starters in week 5 but Malik Rosier and Chazz Surratt will both play. The era of “one quarterback” is practically over with the Alabama Crimson Tide playing Jalen Hurts no matter how successful Tua Tagovailoa has been (12+ yards per passing attempt is quite successful) and THE Ohio State Buckeyes have been playing Tate Martell even with Dwayne Haskins throwing 16 touchdowns to only one interception.
It’s a key part of any program to ensure that a quality backup is in order in case of an injury. Surratt has been suspended for a merchandise scandal but can return for week 5. After an average freshman year, Surratt could’ve used a really strong start to 2018 but that obviously wasn’t the case. A year ago Surratt averaged 7.3 yards per passing attempt and threw eight touchdowns with three interceptions. Elliott, the current UNC starter, has only averaged 6.4 yards per attempt and throw more interceptions than touchdowns.
Malik Rosier should play Thursday night as well. Miami head coach Mark Richt hasn’t announced a starter but one could presume Perry will get the nod after his performance against the FIU Golden Panthers. Rosier has his ceiling and it’s being a good but not great ACC quarterback. Rosier averaged 8.5 yards per attempt adjusted and has thrown five touchdowns and two interceptions. Rosier has also ran in five touchdowns while averaging 3.3 yards per carry on the season.
If Perry starts Rosier, a redshirt senior, should still get in-game action as Perry is quite slender and could be subject to injury while putting on necessary weight to play at this high level.
1. Perry will start at quarterback
Sure, N’Kosi Perry played well against the FIU Golden Panthers and actually kept the Miami offense in rhythm moving the football on 3rd downs and making accurate touch throws. The redshirt freshman Perry has averaged an adjusted 8.9 yards per passing attempt and thrown six touchdowns with only two interceptions in 2018. He can move in the pocket but doesn’t have the running chops of Malik Rosier. However, Mark Richt has always wanted someone with enough mobility that can throw the football with NFL precision.
With Rosier at the helm, the Miami offense always seemed to stall on 3rd down dating back to the 2017 season and rolling through the LSU and Toledo games in 2018. Perry, on the other hand, has show a command of the offense and the huddle. Perry has the ball placement on his throws to lead receivers without making them stop and adjust while also having a strong arm and quick delivery.
The receivers also seem to have a good timing and chemistry with N’Kosi Perry that always felt lacking with Rosier behind center. Rosier would stare down receivers, force them to slow or adjust back to the ball and it led to many drops and punting situations.
If Mark Richt wants to win football games in tough situations he’ll need a quarterback that can perform in the offense. While Perry might offer a steep learning curve he will be able to make up for it with his physical ability to throw the football.
Prediction: Miami by 17