The North Carolina Tar Heels biggest area of concern this season has been their defense. More specifically, the run defense.
Entering Saturday’s game at Rutgers Stadium, the Tar Heels are ranked 81st in total defense and 118th in defense against the run. They are also 118th in sacks and 91st in scoring defense.
A big reason for the struggles of North Carolina’s defensive unit was the fact they have played LSU and Georgia Tech. While LSU is a more balanced team, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets run the triple option. UNC was unable to stop the Yellow Jackets ground attack.
The Tar Heels defense gave up 448 total yards to Georgia Tech, including 372 on the ground. In the past three games between the two teams, Georgia Tech is averaging 338.3 rushing yards per game.
This tells you the Tar Heels and coach Butch Davis have not figured out the options attack of Georgia Tech.
Rutgers does not run the option, but they do have some gimmick plays of their own. The Scarlet Knights have a handful of options with their Wildcat formation. Can Rutgers use this to take advantage of the North Carolina run defense?
Expect them to try. Sophomore wide receiver Mohamed Sanu is the man that runs this package for Rutgers. Sanu has shown the ability to run the ball as well as throw it out of the wildcat set up.
This season, Sanu has rushed 13 times for 63 yards, a 4.8 yard average. Including last season, the sophomore has ran the ball 62 times for 346 yards, an average of 5.6 yards per carry. He has six career rushing touchdowns.
Clearly, the wildcat formation works for Rutgers. Sanu was voted the “Toughest To Bring Down in the Big East” by Lindy’s. With the North Carolina defense struggling, especially the front four, Rutgers can use Sanu to get the running game going.
Starting running back Joe Martinek’s status for Saturday’s game is still in question, leaving the ground duties to true freshman Jordan Thomas and sophomore De’Antwan Willians. While those two players are certiainly capable of handling the carries, Sanu brings a different element. An element North Carolina may have trouble against.
When asked about the struggles North Carolina had against Georgia Tech, linebacker Quan Sturdivant said, “Just missed assignments, really.”
Does North Carolina have trouble with unconventional offense styles? Or is it just the Georgia Tech triple option? Rutgers should find out, and find out early.
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