Sep 7, 2019; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels running back Michael Carter (8) rushes for a first down against the Miami Hurricanes during a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter at Kenan Memorial Stadium. The North Carolina Tar Heels won 28-25. Mandatory Credit: Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

Jets draft Michael Carter, then Michael Carter again

The New York Jets selected Michael Carter in the fourth round of the NFL draft on Saturday. And they must have liked the pick so much that they repeated it in the fifth round.

Yes, New York selected two Michael Carters on Saturday. The fourth-round pick, Michael Carter from North Carolina, is a running back. The fifth-round pick, Michael Carter II of rival Duke, is a cornerback.

The two aren’t related.

The Tar Heels’ Carter was an All-Atlantic Coast Conference first-team selection and a third-team Associated Press All-American in 2020. He finished his North Carolina career in fourth place on the school’s all-time rushing list with 3,404 career yards after back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons.

At Duke, Carter II played all over the defensive backfield and was a third-team All-ACC choice in 2020. In 46 career games (36 starts), he had 135 tackles, 7 1/2 tackles for loss, 1 1/2 sacks and four interceptions.

–Field Level Media

Oct 28, 2017; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly watches from the sideline in the second quarter against the North Carolina State Wolfpack at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

No. 25 North Carolina takes aim at No. 2 Notre Dame

A week off might have been good for No. 2 Notre Dame, but the Fighting Irish must return to action ready for more challenges.

“There are still some things out there for us that we need to get better,” coach Brian Kelly said. “Get ready for this stretch drive because it’s going to be a tough one. A lot work left for this football team.”

A matchup with No. 25 North Carolina comes next for Notre Dame on Friday at Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill, N.C.

“We definitely understand this is a big opportunity for our team and it’s a tremendous challenge against a team like Notre Dame,” North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell said. “We know the impact a win like this can have on a program. It’s definitely a game we want to win and we’re going to put in all the work.”

With three games remaining, Notre Dame (8-0, 7-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) still has work to do to qualify for the ACC championship game. Clemson and Miami, both with one loss, are in the mix, while North Carolina (6-2, 6-2) can stay in contention by defeating the Irish.

Notre Dame and North Carolina have similar firepower, though that’s often produced in varying fashions.

In its most recent game, North Carolina wiped out a 21-point second-half hole to overcome visiting Wake Forest 59-53 on Nov. 14. Later that day, Notre Dame followed its conquering of then-No. 1 Clemson by winning 45-31 at Boston College.

Howell posted a school-record 550 passing yards against Wake Forest.

“If you look at them, certainly the first thing is the big-chunk plays,” Kelly said. “… Eliminating the big-chunk plays, making them earn it down the field, I think is job (No.) 1. They have schemes for everything. We have to do a good job of keeping them to minimum gains. They’re going to move the ball.”

Kelly said the Irish continue to evolve at the cornerback position, which includes true freshman Clarence Lewis on one side. In order to keep the Tar Heels in check, controlling the line of scrimmage will be important.

“We still have to work a rotation to get a pass rush,” Kelly said.

Notre Dame limits opponents to an ACC-best 85.1 rushing yards per game. North Carolina running backs Javonte Williams (108.5) and Michael Carter (100.9) both average more than that on the ground individually. Williams has a league-high 18 touchdowns, 15 coming on the ground.

Howell tops the ACC with 338 yards per game of total offense and 23 touchdown passes.

“We definitely have a lot of confidence that we can score as many points as it takes to win,” Howell said. “We are going to have a really good plan.”

Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book has thrown for 11 touchdowns with one interception. Irish running back Kyren Williams has posted 97.1 rushing yards per game.

North Carolina has given up some large point totals. The Tar Heels could have some new looks this week.

“We’re also throwing in some wrinkles in practice to make sure we’re on top of everything,” linebacker Jeremiah Gemmel said. “Notre Dame likes to attack your weaknesses, and we’ve seen that on tape throughout the year.”

Notre Dame will have adjustments to make on the offensive line.

Four-year starting right guard Tommy Kraemer underwent an appendectomy and will miss the North Carolina game, according to reports out of South Bend, Ind. Notre Dame is already without center Jarrett Patterson because of a broken foot.

This is North Carolina’s final ACC home game, though the Tar Heels will attempt to play a nonleague home game next week against Western Carolina.

That game, which was added to the schedule after the Tar Heels’ attempts to play nonconference contests in September were derailed, was pushed up from Dec. 11 to Dec. 5 amid numerous rescheduled ACC games.

The Tar Heels play at Miami on Dec. 12.

–Field Level Media

Oct 10, 2020; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels running back Michael Carter (8) scores a touchdown as Virginia Tech Hokies defensive back Tyler Matheny (30) defends in the fourth quarter at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

No. 5 UNC likes view atop ACC, Florida State plots takedown

North Carolina climbed in the national rankings again, reaching rare real estate that could prompt the Tar Heels to pause to admire the view.

Coach Mack Brown wants his team to save its receipts, not savor the relocation to the top of the ACC.

“We need to buy a house in this neighborhood. We haven’t been here much,” Brown said. “We’ve been visiting the first couple of weeks in the Top 10. This is who we want to be, but have we earned it yet?”

The No. 5 Tar Heels are favorites again heading into Saturday night’s game against Florida State at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla.

North Carolina (3-0, 3-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) hasn’t been ranked as high as No. 5 since 1997, which marked Brown’s final season in his first stint with the Tar Heels.

“The guys are excited,” Brown said. “It’s fun to win. … I’m proud of the guys. I’m proud to be 3-0.”

Florida State (1-3, 0-3) hasn’t had nearly as much success, though the Seminoles kept it interesting in last week’s 42-26 loss at Notre Dame. Now for the second week in a row, Florida State will play a foe ranked No. 5.

“I think we took a step in the positive direction,” Florida State coach Mike Norvell said. “I thought we played with the right mindset. We need to go play our best game this week.”

The Seminoles, who’ve also lost to a Miami team that has spent time in the Top 10, is getting accustomed to these mighty tasks.

“It definitely adds a sense of urgency in all aspects of what we need to do,” Norvell said. “If we do not go out there and apply the lessons that have been learned, we’re going to find ourselves in a very challenging situation.”

North Carolina has faced just one ranked team — running away from then-No. 19 Virginia Tech in last week’s 56-45 victory. The Tar Heels begin a stretch against five consecutive opponents who, entering this weekend’s games, haven’t been ranked at any point this season.

North Carolina’s big production against Virginia Tech showcased Tar Heels running backs Michael Carter (214 rushing yards) and Javonte Williams (169). They both scored two touchdowns.

“They’re some of the best backs I’ve ever seen in my life,” North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell said. “(Compared to last year) they’re being more of a factor in the passing game, too. We have that balance on offense. We have so many playmakers.”

North Carolina posted 656 yards of total offense in the Virginia Tech game, the sixth-highest total in program history.

On the other side, there were concerns about the amount of points the Hokies piled up.

“Now we have to go back and figure out what went wrong on defense,” Brown said.

The Tar Heels were missing three starters — tackle Raymond Vohasek and backs Storm Duck and Ja’Qurious Conley — on defense.

“We’re still not playing very well on defense,” Brown said. “Too many missed tackles. … Some fans won’t be happy with the defense. What I’m going to tell them is be happy with 3-0.”

Florida State plans to start redshirt sophomore quarterback Jordan Travis, who compiled 204 passing yards and 96 rushing yards against Notre Dame in his first career start. The transfer from Louisville displayed playmaking skills.

“I’m excited to see him build upon that,” Norvell said.

Brown, a Florida State alumnus, is 0-9 vs. his alma mater (0-3 with Tulane, 0-6 with North Carolina).

This is the 20th meeting between these teams, and only the third time that Florida State doesn’t hold a national ranking.

For the third straight meeting, the teams will collide in Tallahassee. North Carolina won on trips in 2010 and 2016, both by 37-35 scores.

–Field Level Media

Dec 27, 2019; Annapolis, Maryland, USA;  North Carolina Tar Heels head coach Mack Brown walks down the sidelines during the fourth quarter against the Temple Owls at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

North Carolina suspends athletic activities for 24 hours

North Carolina has suspended all athletic activities for 24 hours amid a growing number of COVID-19 cases on campus.

The university announced the suspension until Thursday at 5 p.m., at least, including the campus recreation facility.

“After consulting with our health experts and University leadership, we are taking this action to protect our students, coaches and staff,” North Carolina athletic director Bubba Cunningham said in a statement. “We want to make sure we continue to do everything we can to ensure that that our teams, campus and community remain healthy.”

The move comes the day after the university announced that all undergraduate studies would shift to remote learning amid 130 positive cases among students in the first week of the fall semester. Student-athletes have been allowed to remain on campus.

The ACC plans to hold a conference-only football season that is set to begin Sept. 12 against Syracuse for the Tar Heels.

“They’ve had very few distractions,” UNC football coach Mack Brown said Tuesday, per WRAL. “And that’s what we’re trying to do is make sure that our players and our staff understand that we’ve got three months here where we cannot go outside for social reasons or to eat or anything else if we want to have our football season.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 22, 2018; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; Pitt Panthers receiver Maurice Ffrench (2) runs the ball as North Carolina Tar Heels safety D.J. Ford defends during the second half at Kenan Memorial Stadium. The Tar Heels won  38-35. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Trio of DBs opt out at North Carolina

Three North Carolina defensive backs will sit out the 2020 football season amid concerns about the spread of the coronavirus.

The school confirmed Friday to The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., that D.J. Ford, Bryce Watts and Javon Terry will skip the season, leaving the Tar Heels lacking depth at the position.

Their move follows that of redshirt freshman offensive lineman Triston Miller, who on Thursday opted out for “personal reasons,” per the newspaper.

Ford, a senior, appeared in all 13 games and made seven starts at defensive back in 2019. He recorded 54 tackles, one sack, 2.5 tackles for loss, three hurries, two breakups, one fumble recovery and one interception. He was expected to contend for a starting role at safety.

Terry, a sophomore, saw limited action in all 13 games, making four tackles, including one for loss, and adding a sack.

Watts, a junior, has yet to play for the Tar Heels. He transferred from Virginia Tech and sat out the 2019 season under NCAA transfer rules.

In the preseason Amway Coaches Poll, released Thursday, North Carolina was ranked No. 19.

The Tar Heels are scheduled to host Syracuse on Sept. 12 to open the season.

–Field Level Media