Notre Dame Football: Preparing for Unproven “D” of Tar Heels


Sep 27, 2014; Clemson, SC, USA; Clemson Tigers wide receiver Mike Williams (7) catches the ball for a touchdown while being defended by North Carolina Tar Heels cornerback M.J. Stewart (6) during the third quarter at Clemson Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Without intentionally throwing an upcoming opponent under the bus, the North Carolina Tar Heels defense has been gashed and gutted throughout the team’s 2-3 start to the season. On average the Tar Heels surrender 42 points per game (124th in the nation) and are coming off three straight loses. The first, a 70-41 drubbing at East Carolina followed by a 50-35 loss at Clemson, before losing at home to Virginia Tech last Saturday. Any fan of college football could find it difficult for an ACC team traveling to Notre Dame Stadium not to rise-up to the occasion. Expect the Irish to challenge the Tar Heel secondary down the field to potentially open the stagnant running-attack fielded from Notre Dame thus far.

The Tar Heels defense, led by Dan Disch in his third season as defensive coordinator, have not been able to build upon success from the tail end of the 2013 season. The team ended up wining six of the last seven games in ’13, limiting teams to under 20 points in five of the contests. Disch runs a 4-2-5 scheme and will need all five defensive backs to hit their assignments to try and limit what the Irish can do offensively.

In the losses at East Carolina and Clemson, the ‘Heels defense gave up over 435 yards passing in each game while allowing ten touchdowns through the air in those two games alone. On the season, only ten teams in the FBS have given up more passing yards than North Carolina. Based on where Notre Dame is sitting in the national conversation, anything less than a stellar offensive performance could raise questions about what the Irish truly bring to the gridiron before the highly anticipated match-up with Florida State on October 18.

To find a bright spot on the Carolina defense you can look to sophomore cornerback, Brian Walker, who has three interceptions on the season, returning one for a touchdown against San Diego State. There is no question that North Carolina should serve as a tune-up game for the Irish and fans should trust in head coach Brian Kelly to have kept his team in check over the last week to subdue any opportunity for a let-down game.