Saturday’s game against No. 1 Clemson is already a tall order for North Carolina, but with how banged up the Tar Heels are, things could be even more difficult.
UNC, who hosts the Tigers at Keenan Stadium for a 3:30 p.m. kick, will be without several players, including two starters on the offensive line.
The Tar Heels (2-2, 1-0 ACC) were already without starting center Nick Polino, and now left tackle Charlie Heck has been ruled out for Saturday’s game, too. Polino was injured against Miami on Sept. 7 and they aren’t sure when he will return.
Heck will miss his second straight game with a broken hand. Redshirt freshman Joshua Ezeudu will get the start in Heck’s place.
With Heck now ruled out of the game, UNC’s starting offensive line will consist of two redshirt freshmen and three redshirt sophomores.
Before the injury news, the Tar Heels already ranked 127th nationally in sacks allowed with 16. Now the young offensive line will have to face a Clemson defense which has 16 sacks and ranks sixth nationally.
The Tigers (4-0, 2-0 ACC) have 11 different players with at least a half of a sack. The Tar Heels are hoping to keep freshman quarterback Sam Howell upright and make sure he gets the ball out of his hands quickly.
Clemson leads the ACC in total defense (246.5 yards/game) and scoring defense (10.0 pts./game).
Earlier in the week, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney warned that the Tar Heels have enough to beat them if the Tigers don’t play well. However, Swinney also gave one caveat to his notion.
“Right now, they just don’t quite have all of the depth,” Swinney said. “I think if they could stay healthy, they have a chance to be maybe a bowl team. They have had a couple of injuries already and they just don’t have a lot of the depth that they will recruit to, I am sure.”
Look for the Tar Heels to try and get the ball out of Howell’s hand fast. There will be a lot of short passes.
Clemson has recorded multiple sacks in 12 consecutive games, the first time that has happened since the 2012 and ’13 season.
We are pleased to announce a new partnership with Fanatics. This is great news for Tiger fans as they have the officially licensed Clemson gear.
The Clemson Insider will get a portion of all sales so get ready for another championship season by ordering your Clemson gear today and help support TCI.