November 6, 2007

UNC going through youth movement on defense

The talk early in the North Carolina football season was mostly about redshirt freshman quarterback T.J. Yates and the Tar Heels offense.

The discussion is now starting to turn to UNC's defense, which has allowed 284.3 yards per game over the last three games against South Carolina, Wake Forest and Maryland. The 16-13 victory over the Terrapins was the Tar Heels first since 2000.

The Tar Heels have given up 21 points or less in three of its last five games, but only have a 2-3 record to show for it. The steady improvement has helped UNC move up to No. 28 in the country in total defense, No. 30 in pass defense and No. 50 in scoring defense. It's a stark improvement since last year when the Tar Heels were ranked No. 92 in total defense and No. 104 in scoring defense.

Davis was proud of his defense in helping UNC hold on against Maryland.

"Going into the game, one of our biggest concerns was Maryland's ability to run the football," Davis said. "They have two really good running backs and we were really concerned with their ability to run the football. After you take away the sacks and such, we only gave up 93 yards rushing, and that was clearly a very good positive."

The defensive line of defensive ends Hilee Taylor and E.J. Wilson, and defensive tackles Kentwan Balmer and Cam Thomas, with Marvin Austin as a backup, has helped lead the defense.

Taylor ranks second in the ACC and 13th in the country in sacks with eight, and also has 12.5 tackles for loss. He is a half sack away from equaling the total from his first three years.


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