After two consecutive, season-altering losses, the UNC football team played itself right back into the win column.
Carolina dominated in-state FCS opponent Campbell, 59-7, in its highest point total of 2023.
UNC quarterback Drake Maye threw touchdowns on a quarter of his 16 competions – two to top wideout Devontez Walker, plus one each to Chris Culliver and John Copenhaver. Carolina running back Omarion Hampton cracked 1,000 rushing yards on the season and turned in his fourth-straight 100-yard performance, tallying 144 yards and two touchdowns on the day.
The score became so lopsided at one point, UNC decided to put its backups in. We saw second-string quarterback Conner Harrell take off and score on a 61-yard, fourth quarter run, third-stringer Jefferson Boaz complete one pass, plus reserve running back Kellen Hood and Jordan Louie carry the rock a couple times.
Carolina’s going to have an expectedly tougher time executing against its next opponent, Tobacco Road archirval Duke, on Saturday, Nov. 11 at 8 p.m. ET. The Blue Devils have only allowed more than 21 points twice – both in raucous road environments at Louisville and Florida State.
We said the same thing about tough Syracuse, Minnesota and Miami defenses, but UNC had no issue moving the ball against them. That was, of course, before its former two-game losing streak.
See what the Tar Heels need to continue doing offensively for win number eight:
Don't let up on offense...even if winning by multiple touchdowns
In both the UVA and Georgia Tech losses, UNC has blown a double-digit lead.
Carolina was up by just 10 points in the UVA game, but a whole two touchdowns against Georgia Tech. If offense had been working for the Tar Heels so well for most of the game, why would they let up?
I don’t know if coaches wanted UNC to play it conservatively, or simply not to lose. It could’ve been something else – maybe our players simply just got lazy?
Whatever Carolina did two and three weeks ago, it’s out the back window now. The Tar Heels are coming off their best offensive output of 2023, scoring in every single quarter against Campbell last weekend.
Offense has never been the issue, but disappearing at the most crucial times has been an issue. Let’s see what happens on Saturday, as UNC tries to keep the Victory Bell for a fifth year in a row.
Continue to open running lanes for Omarion Hampton
Why did UNC head coach Mack Brown ever abandon the running game against UVA?
He must’ve done a good in-game analysis because sophomore running back Omarion Hampton, who carried the ball just 19 times vs. the Hoos, now has 44 carries between his last two games.
As a result of Saturday’s Campbell domination, Hampton now sits fourth in the entire country with 1,067 yards. There’s a chance he could pass two familiar faces, former Tar Heels Ty Chandler and Javonte Williams, on the single-season rushing yardage record list against Duke.
Drake Maye needs to continue playing mistake-free football
Excluding the UVA clunker, Drake Maye’s last game with an interception was Saturday, Sept. 16 against Minnesota.
The Tar Heel star quarterback has thrown for 16 touchdowns since the Minnesota game, including a season-high four against both Miami (Fla.) and Campbell. This has largely given the Tar Heels chances to stay in games, particularly with how inconsistent the defense is.
Maye is playing at a Heisman Trophy-winning level, but his team’s lack of success in recent weeks may have cost him a chance at one. Maye and his teammates still have an outside shot at the ACC Championship Game, but Maye will need to be at his best.
Keep spreading the ball around to playmakers...both on ground and through air
When FBS teams play games against FCS squads, they’re usually major confidence boosters for the former.
There’s a couple rare exceptions, like when The Citadel marched up to Columbia in 2014 and dealt South Carolina an astonishing upset.
Those FBS-FCS matchups are also great opportunities for the FBS schools to get more players involved. UNC did exactly that in its 52-point win over Campbell last weekend – Maye, Harrell and Boaz each completed passes, six running backs recorded carries and 11 different receivers caught a pass, including leading receiver J.J. Jones for his first touchdown of 2023.
We won’t see the backups much against Duke, but if Carolina wants to succeed, it’ll be wise to play a balanced attack.
Have fun...it's a rivalry game
You always want to beat your rival, but why not have fun playing against them?
The UNC-Duke football rivalry has been a bit one-sided in recent years, with Carolina taking the past four matchups, but there’s no question that players on both teams look forward to this clash every year.
It doesn’t carry the same weight as the men’s basketball battle, as both football teams aren’t usually ranked or in contention for an ACC Title, but it carries something every student-athlete covets – bragging right for an entire year.
If Carolina plays tense and tightens up, that team in royal blue from Durham will walk right out of Kenan Stadium with a much-needed win.
If the Tar Heels play loose and have fun, it could be a pandemonium of excitement in Chapel Hill.