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2020 Game #9 North Carolina Tar Heels

Updated: Sep 10, 2021


As you read this game preview you may come to the conclusion that Sam Howell, the North Carolina QB, is the second coming of Joe Montana, and not just the second coming of the Super Notre Dame QB Joe Montana, but the second coming of the 4-time Super Bowl Champion, NFL Hall of Fame QB Joe Montana. How can Notre Dame fans believe there is any chance Notre Dame can win?

Before we get to that mundane subject, however, I need to address the question that must be uppermost in the mind of every reader. And by answering that question we will be fulfilling our role as a quasi-educational and quasi-entertaining entity. No, the question is not “How did I get ‘suckered’ into reading this stuff?” (Keep in mind, though, it is free to all!!) The question is “What in the heck is a Tar Heel?

You will learn the answer to that question at the end of this piece although you may already know it if you know which of these multiple-choice answers is correct:

A. A “tar” is a common seaman who does work on a ship and typically would be shouting instructions to the ship’s captain including the instruction to “’Heel’ To!”

B. North Carolina was a big producer of “tar”, a rather sticky substance and its Civil War soldiers would not retreat. Their “heels”, so to speak, were stuck in “tar”.

C. North Carolina was a major producer both of “tar” used to seal the hulls of wooden ships and “heels” for shoes and boots used by cobblers and cordwainers alike throughout the early United States.

Hopefully you are sitting as these North Carolina statistics will shake your foundation!!

  • North Carolina is #2 among FBS teams in yards per all offensive plays at 7.7 with yards per rushing attempt at 5.6 and yards per passing attempt at 10.6

  • North Carolina has 181 plays of 10 yards or more with 105 being passing plays and 76 being rushing plays

  • Howell has completed 67.7% of his 248 pass attempts for 2,631 yards, 23 TDs and only 4 interceptions

  • North Carolina has two, count them TWO, prolific running backs in Javonte Williams with 120 rushing attempts for 868 yards (7.2 yard average) and 15 (YES FIFTEEN) TDs, and his running mate, Michael Carter with 116 carries for 807 yards (7.0 yard average) and 4 TDs. And you thought the Irish had a top notch running back in Kyren Williams who has rushed 137 times for only 777 yards (5.7 yard average) and 10 TDs?

  • The Irish’s leading receiver in total receptions is Javon McKinley with 24 receptions, with the next four individual totals being 21, 18, 18, and 17. The Tar Heels’ receivers individual reception totals are 45, 34, 21, 18 and 13.

  • The Irish’s leading receiver in touchdowns is Ben Skowronek with 5 with the next four totals being 2, 2, 0, and 0. The Tar Heels’ receivers individual TD totals are 8, 4, 3, 2 and 2.

  • The Tar Heels are likely to see one or two injured defensive backs return for the game and one talented wide receiver in Beau Corrales. Meanwhile, the Irish lose 40% of their starting O line with one replacement having played in only a single game, mop up role during his career.

  • North Carolina has trailed in the second half of three games by 21 points with the opponent trying to keep the Tar Heels Offense off the field by emphasizing the run game in an effort to control the clock. The Tar Heels comeback from that deficit was successful against Wake Forest, would have been successful against Florida State except for two dropped passes in the last minute of the game, and was nearly successful against Virginia.

  • Only Virginia has been successful in stopping (or limiting) the North Carolina rushing game. The Cavaliers held the Tar Heels to 93 rushing yards but Slingin’ Sam torched the Cavalier pass defense for 443 yards!

So, put away your plans to spend early January at the site of the Irish’s College Football Championship semi-final game. That game will not happen, at least with the Irish in it! You were only going to be able to attend virtually any way! There ain’t no way for the Irish to beat North Carolina!!


This writer has often quoted Coach Lou Holtz (By the way, a prayer for his recovery and for that of all who have contracted COVID-19 is in order, please) when talking about the Irish opponents. He would say, while downplaying the Irish’s chances, “The opponents also give scholarships!!”

So, I say to you, DO NOT forget, “The Irish also give scholarships.” And, I also say to you, “The Irish ‘coach up’ their recruits.” And, I also say to you, in the words of Coach Kelly, “Ian Book is a winner.” And, finally, I also say to you, “Ian Book’s first win was against the North Carolina Tar Heels on the road and Ian Book’s next win will be against the North Carolina Tar Heels on the road.”

Let’s start upfront by addressing the Irish O-line injuries. The Irish’s Fabulous Frequently Fielded Front Five of Eichenberg, Banks, Patterson, Kraemer and Hainsey will now be the Irish’s Fully Functional and Ferociously Forceful Front Five of Eichenberg, Banks, Carroll, Lugg and Hainsey. While not as big as Jarrett, Quinn will enter as center and win, like his twin. Meanwhile Josh at guard, will be just as hard.

If you have not yet recovered from the concern visited upon you by the Tar Heel running statistics, I offer the following words of solace. Travis Etienne. 18 carries. 28 yards. ‘Nuf said!!

Also, do not forget that not only must Notre Dame try to stop the Tar Heels running game but North Carolina must also try to stop the Irish ground attack. It will be the Tar Heels’ Williams & Carter v. the Irish’s Williams & Tyree & Flemister & (dare I say it) Davis & Lenzy! I will say this now and I will say it only once. “For Kryen out loud, I will take the Irish’s Williams in this game ‘mano-a-mano’ against the Tar Heels’ Williams with the others mixed in for extra emphasis.

North Carolina has not played against a defense ranked in the top 50. The Irish have played against three in the top 50 at 9, 12 and 36. The Tar Heels best rated defense opponent is ranked #53, which just happens to be the 4th on the Irish list. The average rank for the 8 Irish defense opponents is #58.75 while the average rank for the 8 Tar Heels defense opponents is #88.50.

And where might the Irish D-lads find themselves? Why they currently occupy #8, just 1/11th of the Tar Heels’ average!!! These rankings deserve listing:

Irish Tar Heels

Opponent Rank Opponent Rank

9 53

12 69

36 80

53 89

69 102

74 103

107 105

110 107

Make no mistake about it, the Tar Heels’ Howell, Williams, and Carter, together with the plethora of receivers in Dyamic Brown, Dazz Newsome, Khafre Brown, and Beau Corrales and Tight End Garrett Wilson are formidable, but so are the Irish defenders. And when the dust settles, those receivers will be far from a Dynamic Dyamic (more like a throttled Pandemic), a Bedazzled and Frazzled Dazz, a no Care-free Khafre, a corralled Beau, and a corn pop-less Garrett.

And, one more item not to overlook. The Tar Heels offense has not encountered a defense co-ordinated by Clark Lea.

No team has scored 40 on the Irish this season during regulation. Nor will the Tar Heels. They will score no more than 31. The Irish will score more than 31. Way more. With one score coming on a kick off, a Tyree Will Flee For Thee return, or on a punt, a Salerno Vaquero via Palomino Ride return, with a second being set up by the other.

While the walls are slowly coming down, the Irish remain somewhat like Rodney Dangerfield. They don’t get no respect. But they are good and will still be good post-North Carolina.

And for those wanting to know the answer to what is a Tar Heel. The answer is B. Tar is sticky and for the North Carolinian Civil War soldiers it would have been a badge of honor that they stayed the fight (No matter how wrong the cause!). But the game of football rewards the fleet of foot. The Heels will stick in the Tar. Meanwhile the Irish will be lissome, alacritous and swift as they continue unabated to an undefeated season.

Final score:

IRISH – 47

North Carolina -- 23

Your Irish Trivia for today.

1. What team did the Irish play in Ara Parseghian’s final game as coach? And who won?

2. What Notre Dame QB who originally committed to North Carolina started his first game as a redshirt Freshman in place of Tommy Rees who was suspended for that first game due to an off the field indiscretion?

3. Two 2-point conversion game ending plays are triggered by this trivia. What Irish player knocked down the 2-point conversion pass to defeat the Jimmy Johnson-coached Miami Hurricanes in 1988 in Notre Dame Stadium? By contrast, what Irish player caught the 2-point conversion pass to win the 1992 Snow Bowl at Notre Dame Stadium over the Joe Paterno-coached Penn State Nittany Lions?

And as always, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


“. . . . . . and our hearts forever,

Love thee Notre Dame!”

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