North Carolina (2-1)
Lost to East Carolina 70-41
What worked: The Tar Heels perfectly executed two trick plays that led directly to touchdowns. The first of those was Ryan Switzer’s 35-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Thorpe, who was wide open down the sideline after Marquise Williams, the quarterback, threw behind the line of scrimmage to Switzer. Later, UNC used a fake field goal – Tommy Hibbard, the holder, threw 29 yards to a wide-open Ethan Albright – for another score.
What needs work: UNC’s defense allowed more points, first downs and yards than any UNC defense had ever allowed, so addressing the problems there have to be the greatest priority. At this point, though, it’s fair to wonder whether the defense can be fixed this season.
Up next: The worst news of all, perhaps, is that the “easy” part of UNC’s schedule is over. The Tar Heels travel to Clemson this weekend, and that starts a brutal stretch that also includes games against Virginia Tech and Notre Dame.
Beat Tulane 47-13
What worked: Tulane was sloppy in all three phases, and Duke took advantage. The Blue Devils scored 21 points off Tulane’s five turnovers – 14 came directly on pick-sixes by Joe Ajeigbe and Bryon Fields. Fields, a sophomore cornerback, and freshman linebacker Zavier Carmichael both grabbed interceptions on zone coverages, a result of good play calls by defensive coordinator Jim Knowles and sound recognition by the players themselves.
What needs work: Duke’s run defense had difficulties maintaining gap integrity and filling holes against Tulane’s two-running back set. The Blue Devils hadn’t been expecting that – the film suggested the Green Wave would operate with a single back – and Tulane’s three main rushers averaged a combined 5.2 yards per carry.
What’s next: ACC play begins with a primetime trip to Miami at 7:30 Saturday. The Blue Devils beat the Hurricanes last year in Durham.
N.C. State (4-0)
beat Presbyterian, 42-0
What worked: The Wolfpack rushed for 265 yards on 31 attempts, which was the third straight game it has eclipsed the 200-yard mark. The program hadn’t done that since the 1994 season. Sophomore Matt Dayes led the team with 86 yards on just six carries.
The defense didn’t give up any points for the first time since a 13-0 home shutout of North Carolina in 2011. Linebacker Jerod Fernandez led the defense with 12 tackles.
What needs work: Quarterback Jacoby Brissett was a little off in the first quarter, as was the offense as a whole. The Pack scored one touchdown in the first quarter against the Blue Hose and didn’t get its second touchdown until the last two minutes of the first half.
What’s next: No. 1 Florida State comes to Carter-Finley Stadium after surviving a 23-17 overtime home win over Clemson. The Seminoles lost at N.C. State in both 2010 and ’12. N.C. State hasn’t hosted the No. 1 team since 1948. The game will kickoff at 3:30 p.m.
East Carolina (3-1)
Beat North Carolina 70-41
What worked: Just about everything. East Carolina put forth an epic performance during its 70-41 rout of rival North Carolina to capture back-to-back victories over the rival Tar Heels for the first time in school history.
The Pirates offense erupted for a school-record 789 yards of total offense, gaining 8.1 yards per play throughout the course of the blowout.
Quarterback Shane Carden accounted for six touchdowns and orchestrated the Pirates’ offense to perfection.
What went wrong: Early in the first quarter, Williams threw a screen pass to Switzer, who pulled up and launched a 35-yard touchdown pass to a wide open T.J. Thorpe for a 10-7 lead.
North Carolina coach Larry Fedora fooled ECU once again in the second quarter when he dug deep into his bag of tricks and pulled out a fake field goal attempt that baffled the Pirates special teams unit and temporarily pulled momentum toward the visitor’s sideline.
What’s next: The Pirates will get a week to recover before returning to action at home for their first American Athletic Conference matchup against a winless Southern Methodist team that dropped to 0-3 after losing 58-6 to No. 6 Texas A&M over the weekend.