Skip to main content

Quick Hitters - North Carolina vs. Duke

Isaac Schade presents Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 38-7 home win over Duke on Saturday afternoon.

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 38-7 home win over Duke on Saturday afternoon.


Condensed Game:

  • North Carolina’s season success will ultimately be decided by how they perform on the road the rest of the season. Carolina’s home / road splits are about as diverse as Ben Roethlisberger’s. Looks like the Tar Heels are going to be just fine in the friendly confines of Kenan Stadium, where they are 3-0 and averaging 52 points a game. On the road, however, the Heels are 0-2 and averaging 16 points a game.
  • Duke came into this game averaging 548 yards of total offense per game. The Tar Heels held them to just 314 today – 234 less than their average. Their previous low for a game was 433 against North Carolina A&T.
  • In the first four games of the season, Carolina held their opponents scoreless in three total quarters. Today, Carolina held Duke scoreless in three quarters, including shutting the Blue Devils out in the first half.
  • Upon returning to Chapel Hill, Mack Brown lost his first two matchups against in-state opponents, but has since reeled off six in a row, for a 6-2 overall record vs. that group. The Tar Heels have now beaten Duke three straight seasons.
  • Through five games, Sam Howell has been sacked an astounding 22 times, which translates to 4.4 per game. The offensive line has to provide better protection and Howell has to do everything in his power to get rid of the ball when possible.
  • Carolina did a great job on Duke QB Gunnar Holmberg. He came in with six rushing touchdowns and was a key figure in the Blue Devil rushing game. The Heels held him to net zero yards on 10 rushing attempts. Additionally, he only threw for 184 yards, 80 of which came on the first play from scrimmage in the second half.
  • In fact, Holmberg had more passing yards on that first play of the second half (80) than the entire first half (62).
  • The Tar Heel defense matched Duke’s five sacks with five of their own; one each for Tony Grimes, Chris Collins, Kevin Hester Jr., and the Fox brothers - Tomon and Tomari.
  • Sacks and limiting Holmberg’s rushing were just part of the defensive mix. The two individual defensive highlight plays were Cam’Ron Kelly’s pick off a ball he tipped to himself and Trey Morrison’s scoop and score off of Hester’s forced fumble.
  • Josh Downs continues his otherworldly start to the season. He has posted three 100-yard games in the first five. Today he finished with 168 receiving yards, 120 of which were yards after the catch.
  • Sam Howell spread around his three passing touchdowns to Downs, Kamari Morales and Ty Chandler.
  • Morales has emerged as a trusted source in the passing game and has a touchdown in three straight games.
  • Chandler had another productive day, totaling 53 yards and a touchdown on the ground and 87 yards and a touchdown through the air, for a total of 140 all-purpose yards. Chandler’s receiving touchdown was a beautiful play between him and Howell and got Carolina on a roll. Howell pump-faked to Chandler coming out of the backfield. The defender took the bait and Howell hit Chandler in stride down the sideline. A block from Downs sprung Chandler for the score.
  • Duke’s first three offensive drives each went into Carolina territory, but none of them resulted in points, setting the tone for the whole game. Had the Blue Devils been able to put some points on the board early, momentum might have shifted.
  • Duke’s Mataeo Durant is an impressive running back, rushing for 114 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries.
  • For those who think Mack Brown is all “aw shucks”, he has no problem getting into an official’s ear when necessary. After no call on an obvious defensive pass interference early in the second quarter, you could see him saying to the ref: “That’s awful. That’s awful.” He even took his hat off, for crying out loud.
  • This was a nice win for Carolina coming off the performance in Atlanta last week. Always great to beat a rival and still have plenty to clean up and work on before Florida State comes to town next weekend.

Box Score

Screen Shot 2021-10-02 at 4.07.05 PM

Mack Brown postgame press conference

Scroll to Continue

Read More

Players postgame press conference

Myles Murphy

Josh Downs

Cam'Ron Kelly

Sam Howell

Jeremiah Gemmel

Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina football game. Next up is a home game against Florida State on Saturday, October 9. Kickoff is at 3:30 pm ET on ESPN.

Follow us on Twitter: @SI_HEELS | @isaacschade

Want to receive an email with Quick Hitters and other articles from Isaac Schade? Click here. Include your name in the text of the email.

Send Isaac Schade an email to talk more about this article.