Two years ago, when North Carolina beat Notre Dame at home, coach Mack Brown pointed to the controversy ahead as a sign. The Tar Heels' 45-32 loss to the Irish on Saturday at Kenan Stadium showed they still have a lot of catching up to do in those areas.
Notre Dame dominated offensively with a running game that hadn't produced much in its previous three games. And Carolina's offensive line couldn't push the Irish defensively enough to open up holes for its running backs to move.
When quarterback Drake Maye finished as Carolina's leading rusher in the game, it was often a bad sign. This was the case against Notre Dame, as Maye led the team with just 36 yards rushing.
Aside from Omarion Hampton's 12-yard run and his other nine attempts, he only gained 16 yards. He wasn't alone. The Heels gained just 66 total yards on 28 attempts.
"They were getting us hot in the first place to stop the run," Maye said. "...They supported us and clicked when they should."
After Carolina scored on its first play, it ran a combined 11 plays on its next three possessions and totaled 11 yards.
Georgia State had a similar game plan in a 35-28 win over UNC on Sept. 1. 10. The Panthers held Carolina's running game for half before Hampton broke off a 58-yard run late in the third quarter to cap off 110 yards rushing.
"I felt like they said, 'We're not going to let you play football,'" Brown said. "They're running so fast with their coaches that they're going to throw us.