Up next for N.C. college teams

October 9, 2012 

Next: A look at this week’s college football opponents for Duke, East Carolina and North Carolina

North Carolina (4-2, 1-1 ACC) at Miami (4-2, 3-0)

Last time out: Miami lost to Notre Dame 41-3

Name to know: Quarterback Stephen Morris set an ACC record two weeks ago when he threw for 566 yards during the Hurricanes’ 44-37 victory against N.C. State. Morris became Miami’s starting quarterback during the second half of the 2010 season but played sparingly a season ago.

His 1,836 passing yards rank fifth nationally, and his play has been one of the primary reasons the Hurricanes are off to a somewhat surprising 4-2 start. Morris has attempted at least 35 passes in five of Miami’s six games and threw 52 passes – and completed 31 for 436 yards – during the Hurricanes’ 42-36 victory against Georgia Tech.

Bottom line: This Miami team doesn’t much resemble the group that dominated college football during stretches of the ’80s, ’90s and 2000s. But the Hurricanes still have a lot of talent, as always, and North Carolina coach Larry Fedora said Miami is as fast and as talented as any team in the ACC.

Even so, Miami has been reliant on youth, and with youth comes inconsistency. That might help to explain why the Hurricanes looked impressive in shoot-out victories against Georgia Tech and N.C. State, but anything but impressive in lopsided losses against Kansas State and Notre Dame.

During its four victories, Miami has scored at least 38 points.

Andrew Carter

Duke (5-1, 2-0 ACC) at Virginia Tech (3-3, 1-1)

Last time out: Va. Tech lost to North Carolina 48-34

Name to Know: Virginia Tech’s season has been an unmitigated disaster, but quarterback Logan Thomas is still putting points on the board. At 6-foot-6, 230 pounds, he is tough to bring down and has the ability to run, though the Hokies have been hesitant put him in harm’s way with a large number of designed runs.

Last week against North Carolina, Thomas, a junior, threw for a career-high 354 yards, going 26-of-49 with two touchdowns and an interception. He has, though, thrown seven interceptions in the Hokies’ past four games. With no running game to speak of, anything less than perfection from Thomas dooms Virginia Tech.

Bottom line: Virginia Tech is off to its worst start since 1992, and everyone, including coach Frank Beamer, can admit the season has been a disappointment. Still, the Hokies can’t be taken lightly, as one would think they have the potential play more like the team that was predicted to win the ACC Coastal Division than the team that might break the school’s 19-year bowl game streak.

East Carolina (3-3, 2-1 Conference USA) vs. Memphis (1-4, 1-0)

Last time out: Memphis won its first game of the Justin Fuente era and the season as it overcame a 10-0 halftime deficit to top Rice 14-10 on Saturday.

Name to know: Marcus Rucker. The Tigers senior receiver’s name is all over the school record books as he is 10th all-time in receiving yards (1,403) and 11th in career receptions (99). Rucker has also hauled in 14 career touchdown passes and with his next one will tie Isaac Bruce for the sixth-most in school history.

Bottom line: East Carolina suffered a critical setback last week by falling 40-20 to a Central Florida team that figured to be it’s biggest challenger for a Conference USA East Division title. Look for the Pirates (3-3, 2-1) to bounce back in a big way as they host a Memphis squad that has won only two conference games in the past two seasons.

Brian Haines

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