N.C. State sacked Tar Heel quarterback T.J. Yates seven times Saturday and pressured him on a handful of other snaps. Patching the holes in that leaky protection is one of the Tar Heels' priorities this week in preparing for Duke.
Butch Davis noted that Duke brings a lot of defensive pressure from a variety of angles, including a variety of zone blitzes in the manner of the Wolfpack.
"We have to do a significantly better job of protecting T.J. and keeping him clean this week," Davis says. "We have to do a better job identifying the pressures and where the heat is coming from. We did a poor job of that Saturday against N.C. State. It wasn't just the offensive line, either. Our running backs missed on four of the seven sacks."
Johnny White and Devon Ramsay provided experienced and savvy pass protection when they were manning the first-team slots at tailback and fullback. But White has been hurt since the FSU game and Ramsay has been suspended since playing the first four games. Walk-on Curtis Byrd has given great effort at fullback after Anthony Elzy moved to tailback, but he lacks the experience and physical package of Ramsay or Elzy. Tailback Shaun Draughn is good at pass protection when healthy, but it's hard to get a good base from which to block from if both ankles are tender.
Carolina gained significant yards against Virginia Tech and State on screen passes to Elzy-allowing the opponent to send a heavy rush and throwing the ball to Elzy over the pursuit. Yates' 411 yards throwing against State elevated him to No. 1 in Carolina's all-time lists of passing yards, completions and attempts.