CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) — North Carolina football has received a lot of praise this week after breaking into the top five of the AP poll for the first time since 1997.
But as with any team, there are plenty of areas to improve, starting with the defense.
The Tar Heels gave up 45 points to Virginia Tech on Saturday and allowed the Hokies 495 yards of total offense.
The Heels were missing three starters, two defensive backs in Storm Duck and Ja’Qurious Conley and defensive lineman Raymond Vohasek. That gave some younger players the opportunity to step up and play.
“We have a lot of young men who deserve to play that work their tails off. So when somebody does get nicked up, you hope it’s not serious and then you get the next guy ready,” said co-defensive coordinator Jay Bateman.
The Tar Heels were scheduled to play Charlotte in their second game of the season. It was canceled due to COVID-19 issues on the 49ers team.
The UNC athletic department was unable to schedule someone last minute. Missing that non-conference game hurt the team because it would have been a good opportunity to get the inexperienced players more game reps.
“It was tough for us to miss the Charlotte game. We just have to keep playing those guys and I told our coaches we’re going to have to trust them and put them out there. Because it’s still a long season and a lot of grind and we can’t play guys 90 plays like we did last year. They’ll just get beaten down,” said head coach Mack Brown.
Some of those players were put to the test Saturday against No. 19 ranked Virginia Tech. Despite giving up 45 points, it gave them much needed game experience moving forward.
“Every snap that we get for the younger ones it really helps us. We got quite a few in the Syracuse game in the fourth quarter. We were forced to play some the other day, we’ve got to play them more because the guys that were out there got tired. We didn’t get to play many people at Boston College. We’re sure not going to get to play them this weekend,” said Brown.
North Carolina plays at Florida State Saturday at 7:30 p.m. The Heels will be without Duck, Conley and Vohasek will be evaluated this week.
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