Opponent Preview – Week 12 – North Carolina Tar Heels

Wow.  What a complete game for Clemson last week against Georgia Tech.  It started off a bit slow and it looked like Tech was going to stack the box and make Cade Klubnik beat them with his arm.  Well, he did.  AND the Tigers were able to run the ball as well.

Here’s to hoping the Tigers can continue their streak of complimentary football for a third week in a row as North Carolina comes to Death Valley for a big-time match-up.

Here is a look at everything you will need to know about the Tiger’s Week 12 Opponent:

North Carolina Tar Heels

School Location: Chapel Hill, NC

Time: 3:30 ESPN

2023 Record – 8-2; (4-2 ACC)  Last Game: Win vs. Duke 47-45 2OT

8 Wins against: South Carolina, Appalachian State, Minnesota, Pitt, Syracuse, Miami, Campbell, Duke

2 Losses against: Georgia Tech, Virginia

Head Coach: Mack Brown – 5th Season – 2nd Stint at UNC – 282-146-1 Overall

Coach Brown is a legend.  A very successful career that’s spanned 45 years, 34 years as a Head Coach between Appalachian State, North Carolina and Texas.  His teams are notorious for playing hard for him.  He is a tremendous players coach and leader of men.  A good personal friend and mentor to Tigers Coach Dabo Swinney from Brown’s days as an analyst at ESPN and head coach at Texas.  


Offensive Coordinator: Chip Lindsey – 1st year at UNC;  (Previous: UCF OC, Auburn OC, Troy HC)

Coach Lindsey is a well-traveled coach.  He’s had extensive experience at the high school level to the highest level of college football.  He is known as one of the most innovative offensive minds, having worked for Gus Malzhan at UCF and Auburn.  A coach that is known for putting up a lot of points on offense, and loves to use his QB in designed runs as well as giving them the freedom to change plays at the line of scrimmage.  He inherited quite the batch of talented offensive players in his first season at UNC. 

North Carolina is averaging 39.9 points per game (8th nationally) with 198.7 yards per game rushing (18th nationally) and 321.9 through the air (8th nationally) for an average of 520.6 yards of offense through 10 games, good enough for 3rd nationally in total offense.

Here is a look at the projected starters for the North Carolina Tar Heels as well as their 2023 statistics:

QuarterbackDrake MayeSophomore#1093 rush, 276 yds, 8 TDs231-251 3145 yds, 21 TDs, 6 Ints.
Running BackOmarion HamptonSophomore#28206 rush, 1236 yds, 13 TDs24 catches, 204 yds, TD
Running BackBritish BrooksGraduate#2467 rush, 311 yds, 2 TDs8 catches, 33 yds
Wide ReceiverDevontez Walker (Kent State/NC Central)Junior#93 rush, 23 yds35 catches, 600 yds, 6 TDs
Wide ReceiverNate McCollum (Georgia Tech)Junior#636 catches, 396 yds, TD
Wide ReceiverJJ JonesJunior#533 catches, 536 yds, TD
Tight EndBryson NesbitJunior#1836 catches, 508 yds, 5 TDs
Tight EndJohn CopenhaverJunior#8124 catches, 204 yds, 3 TDs
Left TackleWilliam BarnesSenior#76
Left GuardEd MontilusGraduate#63
CenterCorey Gaynor (Miami)Graduate#65
Right GuardWillie Lampkin (Coastal Carolina)Junior#53
Right TackleSpencer Rolland (Harvard)Graduate#75


Defensive Coordinator: Gene Chizik – 2nd Year – (Previous: Auburn HC, Iowa St HC)

Coach Chizik returns to the sidelines as the “Assistant Head Coach for Defense,” after a stint as an ESPN analyst and as Defensive Coordinator before that at UNC.  He won a national championship as the Head Coach at Auburn (and beat Clemson early in that season in an unbelievably good game).  Chikiz is a defensive guru that has struggled at UNC since his return a season ago.  A great defensive mind who runs a 3-3-5 hybrid scheme mostly.  

The North Carolina defense has given up an average of 25.5 points through their first ten games (60th nationally).  They have given up an average of 154 yards per game on the ground (77th nationally) and 235.5 yards through the air (83rd nationally).  Opponents are averaging a total of 389.5 yards per game (80th nationally). 


The Tar Heels are +11 in turnover margin through nine games (T-3rd nationally), having thrown 6 interceptions and picking off 12 opposing passes, as well as having caused 7 fumbles and have lost 2 fumbles in the nine games so far.  

Here is a look at the projected starters for the Tar Heels on defense along with some stats from the season:

Defensive EndDesmond Evans Senior#1029 tackles, 4 TFLs, 2 sacks, 
Nose TackleKevin Hester Jr.Senior#9823 tackles
Defensive TackleMyles MurphySenior#819 tackles, 4.5 TFLs, sack
JackKaimon RuckerSenior#2546 tackles, 12 TFLs, 8.5 sacks
Middle LinebackerPower EcholsJunior#2377 tackles, 5 TFLs, Int.
Weakside LinebackerCendric GraySenior#3396 tackles, 10 TFLs, 4.5 sacks, Int, 2 FR
CornerbackArmani Chatman (Virginia Tech)Graduate#313 tackles, 2 Ints
Boundary SafetyDon ChapmanSenior#245 tackles, 3 TFLs, sack, 2 Ints
Free SafetyGiovanni BiggersGraduate#2743 tackles, TFL, Int
STARAlijah Huzzie (East Tennessee State)Junior#2841 tackles, TFL, 3 Ints
CornerbackMarcus AllenSophomore#2938 tackles, TFL

Special Teams 

Here is a list of the specialists for the Tar Heels along with statistics from the season so far:

KickerNoah BurnetteJunior#9818-19, long of 47 yds
PunterTom Maginness (Monash)Sophomore#9618 punts, 39.6 yd avg. long of 57 yds
Punt ReturnerAlijah HuzzieJunior#2817.3 yd avg, long of 52 yds, TD
Kick ReturnerTychaun ChapmanRS Freshman#022.3 yd avg, long of 52 yds


These North Carolina Tar Heels are an unbelievable offensive team.  Drake Maye is likely a top pick when his time at UNC is done.  This will be a huge test for this tremendous Clemson defense.  

Conversely, the defense, while better than Georgia Tech statistically, has given up a ton of points the last few weeks.  Clemson will need to get a few stops from the vaunted offense and be able to continue to score points against an inferior defense.

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