University of North Carolina Tar Heels @ University of Miami (FL) Hurricanes
Saturday, October 15, 2016
Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, Florida
Score: North Carolina (20), Miami FL (13)
Notable Prospects Entering the Contest
North Carolina Offense
Mitch Trubisky, QB, Junior, #10: Trubisky had a wonderful game and did well to bounce back from a nightmare performance against Virginia Tech in Hurricane Matthew two weeks ago. Trubisky continues to impress with his polish as a green starter (he’s halfway through his first season as the signal caller). Eye movement and progressions were easy to see this weekend and are the latest illustration of a Quarterback wise beyond his years. Trubisky has excellent athleticism in the pocket and made the Hurricanes pay mightily with his legs; moving the sticks a number of times with designed runs and scrambles. The ball jumped off of Trubisky’s hand and he showed excellent velocity, regularly spinning balls cleanly whether he was fixed in the pocket or throwing on the move. A third A+ performance in four games.
Ryan Switzer, WR, Senior, #3: The Hurricanes seemed dedicated to not letting Switzer be the one to beat them in the passing game. Switzer was not able to find space down the field and in spite of nine receptions; he was utilized primarily behind the LOS. He did run a nice whip route out of a Twins set inside the 5 for a touchdown; a nice illustration of his short area mobility. While his utilization was very much quick throws to the perimeter, I did make a note of a nice diving reception in the rain in the fourth quarter to convert a third down. Switzer had made the decision to remove his receiving gloves and did well to receive the wet ball in a downpour. Switzer is still waiting to get sprung loose in the return game this year (although he did have a PR touchdown this year which was called back via penalty) but he had a crafty, veteran move to get a free 15 yard with a quick wave for fair catch. The wave was so early gunner Corn Elder didn’t see it and was flagged after tackling Switzer to the ground.
Bug Howard, WR, Senior, #84: Howard had his best performance of the season, tallying 10 receptions for 156 yards receiving. He’s already tied his reception total from last year and is 60 yards from a career high in receiving yardage. Howard is a big body with some vertical speed; but what impressed me most about his game was he was consistently targeted between zones. Trubisky threw a dagger vs. Cover 2 up the right sideline and Howard was well positioned to provide ample window before turning the catch up field. Howard’s best routes are nines, back shoulder fades and slant routes. He’s got the frame and length to box out defenders consistently at the catch point; but he needs to be more aggressive and consistent attacking the football. Howard is making the most of a polished passer at QB and making a strong statement for his final campaign with the Tar Heels.
TJ Logan, RB, Senior, #8: Logan continues to be one of the better surprises at the RB position in College Football. Logan has outpaced his teammate and higher regarded RB prospect Elijah Hood to this point in the season and the Tar Heels have begun scheming Logan touches (he got a number of reps as a “Wildcat” QB on Saturday). Logan has a nice blend of lateral agility, initial explosiveness and patience in the open field. He picks his way through the box effectively to maximize runs between the tackles. Logan is going to start requiring more than the 10-15 touches a game he’s been averaging the past month, he’s been far and away the better back.
Elijah Hood, RB, Junior, #34: Hood does not look right for the Tar Heels. He’s been lacking in burst and lacking in decisiveness. Hood’s best trait is his power and he’s still effective pressing between the tackles to move the pile but there are occasions in which he’s trying to be something he’s not as a big play agility back. Hood working laterally to try to gain the edge is currently uninspiring and frustrating to watch. Hood and the Tar Heels offense both need to refocus on his strengths and do their best to get him attacking the LOS downhill. Hood is averaging 2.78 yards per carry over the past four weeks.
North Carolina Defense
Nazair Jones, DT, Junior, #90: Jones was a player tipped off to me by colleague Joe Marino this past week and he did not disappoint. Jones is a handful from a length perspective; his reps one-arming blockers and extending to uncover at the point of attack were impressive displays of hand technique. Jones also had a number of impressive interior rushes, including hitting a swim move over the LG before showing acceleration to close in a pop QB Brad Kaaya. Jones has not finished a ton of splash plays just yet but there’s a skillset here that is going to get evaluators excited. Strong movement skills, excellent length and explosiveness in a 6050, 295 lbs frame does not grow on trees.
Brad Kaaya, QB, Junior, #15: Kaaya has yet to really get off the ground this year consistently. He plays very well for three or four consecutive possessions but when the offense falls behind the sticks on early downs Kaaya is struggling to rebound and handle pressure effectively. Kaaya’s pocket presence against Carolina was underwhelming, he crumbled with bodies flying around him in the pocket. The game was decided on a strip sack of Kaaya late in the fourth quarter; it’s hard to fault Kaaya for the quick pressure but he does need to do a better job of protecting the football. Kaaya is a strong skillset fit for a West Coast offense and his success this weekend on rollouts and working the shorter areas of the field is a good illustration of what he can be at his best. Yet Kaaya’s issues handling pressure in the pocket are concerning and have the potential to be a fatal flaw.
Stacy Coley, WR, Senior, #3: Coley appeared to be feeling the effects of a knee injury which limited him in practice this past week. Coley failed to meet the production or target levels he’d been receiving over the past 3 weeks (average 5.33 receptions for 80 yards and 1.67 TDs in that stretch); only tallying two receptions for 12 yards. Coley had a number of sharp breaking routes in which he appeared to be not quite as crisp as has been expected for him; which has me thinking he was out there at not 100% and it had a significant impact on his play this weekend.
David Njoku, TE, RS Sophomore, #86: Njoku has the look of a first off the bus type of player; he’s built like Adonis and has a strong set of skills to be a receiving TE at the next level. Njoku has a very strong first half before falling quiet down the stretch; he talled 4 for 82 in the first half and had numerous RAC plays for big gains. Njoku dropped an easy target in the flat as well, one that helped kill a Hurricane drive. Njoku is still green with less than 10 starts to his name but he does illustrate the skill set to be a name to watch. Njoku is adequate against college competition as a blocker; he’s not going to inspire or make his paycheck in the future with his hand in the dirt. A large body who ideally would find more targets in the second half of the season.
Corn Elder, CB, Senior, #29: Elder is playing some of the best football in the country over the past several weeks. Elder’s game last week against the Seminoles was highly impressive and he was even better against the Tar Heels. Elder shows very strong play diagnosis and his plant and drive ability was best on display breaking on a smoke throw to Ryan Switzer. Elder immediately recognized the play from off the LOS and beat two blockers to the spot before dropping a picture perfect form tackle on Ryan Switzer for a TFL. Elder was active around the field and was a prominent figure on the boundary and from the slot, even registering a sack on a delayed blitz from the slot and collapsing at a strong angle to squeeze and finish the play.
Best Players on the Field:
Mitch Trubisky, QB; Corn Elder, CB
Stacy Coley, WR; Elijah Hood, RB