Louisville at North Carolina

Sports Xchange

September 06, 2017 at 5:37 pm.

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Saturday, noon ET
SITE: Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill, N.C.
TV: ESPN
SERIES: Louisville leads 4-3. Louisville won the last meeting 39-34 in 2012.
RANKINGS: Louisville No. 17

PLAYERS TO WATCH
Cardinals

–QB Lamar Jackson completed passes to nine different receivers in kicking off his campaign to repeat as the Heisman winner. With 2,638 yards, Jackson is 169 yards short of setting an ACC career rushing records for quarterback.

–TE Jordan Davis was playing in his first game last week since his transfer from Texas A&M. He had a three-yard touchdown reception for Louisville’s first points.

–LB Trevon Young returned after missing 2016 to injury and totaled three tackles. He was credited with 1.5 sacks and three quarterback pressures.

–S Chucky Williams started off his final season in a nice way. His late interception — the seventh of his career — basically ended the win over Purdue.

Tar Heels

–QB Chazz Surratt came into the game on the third series and gave some life to the passing game and also was an effective runner. He passed for 161 yards and a touchdown and rushed for a touchdown, gaining 66 yards on 16 rushes.

–RB Michael Carter had a big game in his collegiate debut. The freshman rushed 11 times for a game-high 94 yards and two touchdowns in the loss to California, an 8.5 yards-per-carry average. He showed his speed on a long run of 47 yards. On the downside, he also lost a fumble.

–LB Andre Smith led the Tar Heels defense in tackles with 10 stops and also had a 73-yard interception return for a touchdown. It was the second score of the junior’s career. He also broke up another pass.

–CB M.J. Stewart is a veteran in the secondary and a leader of the defense. Stewart broke up a pass and had three tackles against California.

KEYS
TO THE GAME

Louisville and unranked North Carolina are in very different places when it comes to the most visible position on the field.

The No. 17 Cardinals go into the game with the returning Heisman Trophy winner, Lamar Jackson, at quarterback. At least early in the week, coach Larry Fedora was unsure who would start at quarterback for the Tar Heels.

The teams meet in an Atlantic Coast Conference opener at noon Saturday at Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill on ESPN.

Jackson came out firing in Louisville’s opener. He accounted for 485 total yards in a tough 35-28 win over Purdue in a game played in Indianapolis. Known for his running, Jackson threw for 378 yards and two touchdowns.

“He put some balls in small windows,” Louisville coach Bobby Petrino said. “His accuracy allowed us to get yards after the catch. He’s doing a really nice job with his sets, and when he sets, he gets on line and he’s really accurate.”

As for North Carolina, LSU graduate transfer Brandon Harris passed for only 60 yards and threw two interceptions in last week’s season-opening 35-30 home loss to California. He seemingly was outplayed by redshirt freshman Chazz Surratt, who passed for 161 yards with one touchdown and no picks.

But Tar Heels Fedora isn’t so fast to make a change on the depth chart.

“We’ll go through this week and decide what we’re going to do,” he said. “Based on Saturday what we saw whether that was enough to make a change, I don’t know yet.
“We’ll see how they handle this week in practice.”

Harris and Surratt came out ahead in a four-way competition in the preseason, separating from last year’s backup Nathan Elliott and redshirt freshman Logan Byrd, but not from each other.

Fedora’s comments, however, perhaps do indicate a way he is leaning.

“Really, I’m looking for the guy that’s going to put us in a position to win,” the coach said. “Taking care of the football is still No. 1 with us. You’ve got to take care of the football.”

Harris had the two picks and also missed a wide-open receiver in the end zone for a potential touchdown. He completed 7 of 16 passes, rushing for 5 yards. Surratt started the second half. He completed 18 of 28 passes and ended up with 66 yards rushing.

“I thought both of them did a nice job with their poise,” Fedora said. “Their poise and their communication on the field with their teammates, plus with the coaches on the sideline, was good.

“Brandon threw the two picks, which we can’t afford to do, and we’ve got to get better in that area. I thought Chazz made some good decisions with the ball and when he was running.”

Freshman running back Michael Carter was a bright spot, with 11 rushes for a game-high 94 yards and two touchdowns. He showed his speed on a long run of 47 yards. On the downside, he also lost a fumble.

It was not known as of Tuesday if Louisville All-American cornerback Jaire Alexander would play after suffering a knee injury last week. He was considered day-to-day.

Petrino said he liked the chemistry between his star quarterback and freshman wide receiver Dez Fitzpatrick, who caught four passes for 95 yards in the second half. His 20-yard touchdown reception with 9:01 left gave Louisville a 32-28 lead.

“I thought he did a really nice job,” Petrino said. “The thing that was good to see was the first catch down the middle. They both saw the coverage; they knew what was going to happen. It was perfectly thrown and caught. On the touchdown pass, they were both exactly on the same page.”

The Tar Heels simply made too many mistakes on both sides of the ball to beat Cal, throwing two interceptions, losing a fumble and giving up big plays on defense.

Louisville intercepted three Purdue passes last week.

Petrino praised his defense this week, but left room to compliment the Tar Heels.

“They look good on video, they run the ball well and we got two quarterbacks again to prepare for,” he said.

“Defensively, they’ve got a lot of experience — you turn the video on from last year and this year and it’s a lot of the same players playing, particularly at linebacker and in the secondary. We just have to have a great week of preparation.