TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — North Carolina and No. 12 Florida State have two of the better offenses in the Atlantic Coast Conference. When it comes to defense, that’s another matter.
Going into Saturday’s game at Doak Campbell Stadium, both teams are struggling to find consistency when it comes to stopping opponents. The Seminoles (3-1, 0-1 ACC) are last among Power Five conference teams in yards allowed per play (6.78). They have also have allowed 30 or more points in all three games against Football Bowl Subdivision opponents after not allowing a team to score 25 or more during the regular season last year.
Most of the problems are rooted in teams taking advantage of a young secondary. The Seminoles have allowed 14 plays of 30 yards or more, which is tied with Oklahoma State for worst among Power Five teams.
Coach Jimbo Fisher hopes his unit has found some confidence though after last Saturday’s win at South Florida where they forced punts on nine straight possessions, including eight three-and-outs.
After four weeks of facing dual-threat quarterbacks, the Seminoles face a traditional passer in Mitch Trubisky. Fisher said that the junior, who has a 74.5 percent completion rate, might be the most accurate quarterback his team will face this year.
The Tar Heels (3-1, 1-0) are having problems again stopping the run and getting off the field. In last week’s win against Pittsburgh, they went from a struggle-filled first 45 minutes to forcing three-and-outs on the Panthers’ last two series to give the offense a chance to make its last-second comeback win.
“They fought all the way down to the end” to set up the comeback, defensive coordinator Gene Chizik said. “What we’ve got to find is how to do that throughout the game because we’re not there yet.”
North Carolina is allowing 240.3 yards per game which is second worse among Power Five schools. The Tar Heels face another top back today in Florida State’s Dalvin Cook, who is coming off a career-high 267-yard day against USF.
Here are some other things to watch as the Tar Heels and Seminoles meet for the first time since 2010:
D╔J└ VU? UNC lost its opener to South Carolina last year, then won 11 straight to win the ACC Coastal Division and play then-No. 1 Clemson in the title game. The Tar Heels have at least set themselves up for a shot at a repeat, shaking off a loss to Georgia in the opener with three straight wins. The road, though, this year is tougher with Florida State and then No. 14 Miami on Oct. 15.
COMPOSED TRUBISKY: Trubisky has thrown for nearly 900 yards with two of the top four single-game passing performances in program history over the last two weeks. He has yet to throw an interception this year, too, and has a program-record 202 straight passes without a pick to break a record that had stood for 19 years.
RETURN GAMES: UNC’s T.J. Logan ranks third in the ACC and 23rd in the nation in kick returns, averaging 27.7 yards per attempt. Florida State’s Bobo Wilson is first in the ACC and fifth nationally in punt returns, averaging 20.4 yards. Both also have a touchdown.
RELAXED FRANCOIS: FSU quarterback Deondre Francois accounted for 244 yards of total offense last week. He had only 169 yards passing but is doing a better job of making checks at the line. Last week he checked into a run play which resulted in a Cook 75-yard touchdown.
KEEP AN EYE ON: Florida State receiver Travis Rudolph. The junior leads the team in receptions (16), yards (233) and touchdowns (three) but has been held to three receptions for 54 yards the past two weeks.
AP sports writer Aaron Beard in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, contributed to this report.
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