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Gameday blog: UNC 28, UM 24 (F)

SECOND HALF HIGHLIGHTS
> UNC's 1st Drive: The Tar Heels get some field position help when the opening kickoff by Bosher goes out of bounds. A few plays later, Brandon Tate strikes with a 37-yard catch and run to the UM 11-yard line. On fourth and goal, Ryan Houston puts UNC right back into the game with a 2-yard scoring run with 9:38 left in the third quarter. UM 17, UNC 14.

> UM's 1st Drive: The Canes get great field position at the UNC 44, but can do nothing with the ball. Marve gets sacked by Mark Paschal on first down back at the 31. Two plays later, UM punts, giving UNC possession at its own 19.

> UNC's 2nd Drive: After picking up another first down on the ground, UNC tries a reverse to Brandon Tate that loses a yard. Two incomplete passes later, UNC punts and Miami takes over at its own 47.

> UM's 2nd Drive: UNC's defense keeps coming up with stops. After Marve picks up one first down with a scramble, UM is forced to punt. Sam Shields come through with a heck of a play catching the punt and pinning UNC at its 1-yard line.

> UNC's 3rd Drive: Pinned on its own 1, UNC can't move and is forced to punt from its own 1 when Spence smacks down UNC's running back on 3rd and 10. UM gets great field position when a UNC punt is return to the UNC 27. But the return gets negated on a block on the back by Romeo Davis. UM starts its drive on its 36.

> UM's 3rd Drive: Robert Marve comes through again. Faced with a 3rd and 11, Marve scrambles and finds Dedrick Epps in the flat for a big 3rd down conversion down to the UNC 22-yard line. Big, big, big, play. Graig Cooper then moves the ball even deeper with another solid run up the middle. UM caps the drive with a Marve to Aldarius Johnson touchdown pass with 9:59 to play. UM 24, UNC 14.

> UNC's 4th Drive: Right when it looks like UM is going to put the 'Heels away, UNC's speciality -- the big play -- strikes. On third and 10 at his own 26, Sexton finds Nicks down the center of the field for a 74-yard scoring strike. Bruce Johnson had the coverage on the play and missed the tackle. There was no safety help. UM 24, UNC 21.

> UM's 4th Drive: The Canes catch a break when the ensuing kickoff goes out of bounds, giving UM possession at the 40. After Graig Cooper picks up a couple first downs on the ground, UM gets called for holding at the UNC 39. Faced with a third and long, Marve forces a deep pass that gets picked and returned to the UM 43.

> UNC's 5th Drive: UNC picks up one first down and move to the UM 29. But on third and long, freshman Brandon Harris sacks Sexton back at the 36. On fourth down, Jay Wooten's 53-yard field goal attempt sails just wide left with 3:50 to play.

> UM's 5th Drive: Miami runs the ball three times trying to run the clock, but a holding penalty on Jason Fox hurts the team. Miami s only able to eat up 49 seconds off the clock as Butch Davis uses all three of his timeouts to leave 3:01 to play.

> UNC's 6th Drive: UNC partially blocks Bosher's punt and takes over at its own 44. On first down, Sexton picks up a 13-yard completion to the UM 42. Two plays later, Sexton finds Nicks for about a 22-yard gain when Bruce Johnson misses yet another tackle. But UM catches a break when Nicks get flagged for an offensive face mask. The ball is moved back to the UM 35. Sexton then finds Tate for an 11-yard gain and first down to the UM 24. On second and 9, UM's Chavez Grant collides with Brooks Forster at the 15-yard line. Referees throw flags and ultimately rule pass interference on Grant at the UM 14. Two plays later, Foster sneaks behind DeMarcus Van Dyke and makes a leaping catch for a touchdown with :46 left.

FIRST HALF HIGHLIGHTS
> Couple of injury notes... backup running back Damien Berry left the game midway through the first quarter with a lower left leg injury... receiver Thearon Collier had his abdomen looked at after taking a hit and dropping pass late in the first quarter... right tackle Reggie Youngblood is having his lower left foot looked at by trainers.

> UM's 1st Drive: The Canes start at their own 11 after Jojo Nicholas gets flagged for holding on the kickoff. Graig Cooper, just like a week ago, gets the Canes rolling with three long runs including a 31-yard scamper to the UNC 9. On the next play, quarterback Robert Marve finds Kayne Farquharson in the middle of the end zone for a touchdown. Miami scores in 8 plays, going 89 yards. Impressive. UM 7, UNC 0.

Butch_davis_randy_shannon> UNC's 1st Drive: The Heels pick up a first down on three straight runs when UM's defense wakes up. Colin McCarthy and Chavez Grant pick up the first tackle for loss. Two incomplete passes later, UNC punts and Grant picks up the second big hit of the game when he absolutely lights up Melvin Williams on the return. It springs Travis Benjamin for a 38-yard punt return to the UM 48-yard line. That block just edged out Jason Fox for the biggest hit of the game so far. On the second offensive play of the game, Fox destroyed defensive end Robert Quinn.

> UM's 2nd Drive: The Canes once again move the ball down the field, picking up first downs on two third down conversions including another nice run by Graig Cooper and Benjamin. But on 3rd and 11 at the UNC 25, Thearon Collier drops a pass at the first down marker. Matt Bosher's 42-yard field goal attempt goes wide right.

> UNC's 2nd Drive: Penalties, penalties, penalties. Carolina moves the ball and then picks up a 36-yard run by Shaun Draughn deep into UM territory. But it gets negated by a holding penalty. Carolina eventually is forced to punt. Punter Terrence Brown the bobbles the punt and falls on the ball at the Carolina 11 giving UM great field position.

> UM's 3rd Drive: Following an incomplete pass to an open Dedrick Epps and a 1-yard run by Cooper, Marve finds Cooper on a middle screen and Coop does the rest, avoiding two tackles on his way to the end zone with :39 left in the first quarter. Joel Figueroa had a key block to spring him. UM 14, UNC 0.

> UNC's 3rd Drive: Cameron Sexton comes in the game quarterback, replacing Paulus, and instantly sparks the Tar Heels offense. Carolina caps a 7-play, 58-yard drive and scores with 12:49 left when Greg Little follows a pack of blockers into the end zone on a 6-yard run. UM 14, UNC 7.

> UM's 4th Drive: Jacory Harris replaces Marve at quarterback with 12:46 left in the half and the offense goes three and out. But Carolina keeps the drive alive with a running into the punter penalty. Miami takes advantage of new life. Harris connects on one key passes on third down to Farquharson and another 14-yard gain to freshman Davon Johnson. UM caps a 14-play, 62-yard drive that chews up 7 minutes, 42 seconds with a 35-yard field goal by Matt Bosher. UM 17, UNC 7.

> UNC's 4th Drive: Sexton picks up a first down on his first play of the drive. But the Heels offense fizzles and the drive ends when DeMarcus Van Dyke bats away a third down pass.

> UM's 5th Drive: Marve comes back in at quarterback, but UM goes three-and-out before draining the clock and punting it. Carolina takes over at its own 7 with :25 left.

HERE ARE SOME FIRST HALF NOTES...
> Miami's starting offense featured Aldarius Johnson and Khalil Jones at receiver, Chris Zellner and Dedrick Epps at tight end, Robert Marve at quarterback, Graig Cooper in the backfield and Jason Fox, AJ Trump, Xavier Shannon, Joel Figueroa and Reggie Youngblood starting from left to right on the line.
> Miami's starting defense featured Steven Wesley, Dwayne Hendricks, Joe Joseph and Eric Moncur starting left to right on the line, Darryl Sharpton at strongside linebacker, Colin McCarthy at weakside, Glenn Cook in the middle, Chavez Grant and Bruce Johnson at corner and Anthony Reddick and Jojo Nicholas at safety.

PREGAME NOTES
> Defensive tackle Marcus Forston is definitely out for this game. He's not dressed out.

> Checking in before kickoff here at Dolphin Stadium where Miami is about to open ACC play against former coach Butch Davis and the North Carolina Tar Heels in what will be overcast and maybe rainy conditions. I've got my pregame keys to the game as well as this week's market watch and prediction to share with you.

But before I do, some interesting comments from ESPN analysts Kirk Herbstreit moments ago. Herbstreit said he believes the Canes' ceiling is winning the ACC title this year. Lee Corso, meanwhile, picked the Canes to win today by at least two touchdowns.

KEYS TO VICTORY
> WIN THE BATTLE UP FRONT: This is where Carolina can win the game. Next to the Florida Gators, this could be the most physical team UM faces all season. North Carolina's strength is its defensive line. Up front, Marvin Austin and Cam Thomas are two of the best defensive tackles in the country. Butch Davis teams have always been good at shutting down the run. We know that's going to be their focus today. Carolina only has three sacks this season -- but had two last week against Virginia Tech, which means they could be getting better at rushing the passer. If Miami can own the line, they'll own this game.
> CONTAIN BRANDON TATE: With starting quarterback T.J. Yates out, nobody is expecting either of Carolina's quarterbacks to Mike Paulus or Cameron Sexton to be flinging the ball deep down field. Davis is going to play this game conservatively and try to get the ball in the hands of his best playmaker and that's Tate. The 6-1, 195-pound senior had 54-yard touchdown run last year against Miami and leads the nation in all purpose yards (265.7 yards per game) and is explosive on punt returns. Miami can't let Tate have a big day.
> GET OFF TO A BETTER START: Last year, Miami fell behind North Carolina 27-0 before a rally fell short. Last week, UM gave up an early score and responded with a scoring drive. Although UM has shown some toughness in being able to come back in games, this UM team is still a young team. You can't keep putting yourself in a hole and expect to come out of it every time. This is a game Miami should win because Carolina is without its starting quarterback. But come out slow and give a Butch Davis team confidence and you give Carolina a chance to win a game it shouldn't.

MARKET WATCH
> As usual, we take a look at the guys we expect to blow up, guys who are on the bubble and guys who probably won't factor into this game.
BUY 'EM
> Steven Wesley, defensive end: Eric Moncur was the star last week at A&M. I think Wesley will be the guy this week. He's been UM's most consistent end and stopper in the run game. I think the Canes turn up the pressure today and Wesley racks up a few sacks and maybe recovers a fumble.
> Dedrick Epps, tight end: Epps caught 3 passes for 48 yards last week and has five catches this season, but still hasn't gotten into the end zone. I think when UM gets into the red zone today, Carolina will be focused on stopping the run. Epps will get some chances to catch touchdown passes.
ON THE BUBBLE
> Xavier Shannon, center: You might as well as include Orlando Franklin, Chris Rutledge, A.J. Trump and Joel Figueroa in this group considering the interior of Miami's offense will be tested today by UNC's defensive tackle duo. If these guys have a good day, UM has a good day. If they struggle, Carolina has a chance to win this game.
> Bruce Johnson, cornerback: Guess who is probably going to be covering Tate? You got it. Bruce, who has nine tackles this season, is going to have to do a good job wrapping up and making sure the rest of the secondary doesn't give up a lot of big plays. Carolina's offense has generated three scoring plays this year of 50 yards or more and has nine passes of 20 yards or more.
PASS ON IT
> DeMarcus Van Dyke, cornerback: What's happened to DVD? He's gone from projected starter to lost in the shuffle. Today could be an opportunity to bounce back. But he may not see the field very much other than special teams.

> My prediction: UM 30, North Carolina 13. I'm expecting a close game for three quarters before Miami's defense starts creating turnovers in the fourth quarter that lead to a few easy points. It's going to be a battle though. Carolina is going to be real physical.

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