North Carolina concludes the 2012 season Saturday, Nov. 24, when the Tar Heels welcome Maryland to Kenan Stadium. Carolina will honor 17 seniors in a pregame ceremony prior to kickoff. Over the last four years, those seniors have won 30 games and advanced to three bowl games. A win would give the Tar Heels an 8-4 record, marking their best winning percentage in a season since 1997 (11-1).
Carolina and Maryland are meeting for the first time since 2008 in a series the Tar Heels lead 35-33-1. In 2008, Carolina let a late lead slip away as Maryland came back for a 17-15 Terps victory in rainy College Park. The last time Maryland visited Chapel Hill came in 2007 when the Tar Heels won 16-13. Carolina leads the series at Kenan Stadium, 17-11-1.
Carolina is 5-1 at home this year and a win over Maryland would match UNC's 6-1 mark at home in 2011. The Tar Heels have never won 12 games at home over a two year stretch since Kenan Stadium was constructed in 1927. On four different occasions the Tar Heels have won 11 games in back-to-back home seasons, most recently accomplishing the feat in 1993 (6-1) and 1994 (5-1).
The Tar Heels are coming off a 37-13 victory at Virginia last Thursday night. QB Bryn Renner completed 29 of 36 attempts for 315 yards and three touchdowns, while the UNC defense completed a remarkable turnaround from its previous outing against Georgia Tech. After allowing 68 points to the Yellow Jackets, Carolina surrendered just 13 points to UVA and twice shut down the Cavaliers in the red zone.
Maryland, which is playing with a converted linebacker at quarterback, lost 41-14 to Florida State.
85 Years Ago Today
- Saturday's game vs. Maryland marks the 85th anniversary - to the day - of the Kenan Stadium Dedication Game against Virginia in 1927. The Tar Heels won that game 14-13. It was actually the second game played in Kenan Stadium. The first was played November 12, 1927, a 27-0 whipping of Davidson.
- The Dedication Game was played November 24, 1927 against Virginia and played on Thanksgiving Day. An overflow crowd of 28,000 filled Kenan on the 24th. The original capacity was 24,000. North Carolina Governor Angus W. McLean was in attendance as was Virginia Governor Harry Byrd.
- That game vs. Virginia was the 32nd in the series and Carolina held on to win 14-13. UNC had a 14-0 lead going into the fourth quarter. Virginia scored twice in the final stanza. The Cavaliers missed an extra point after their first score which proved to be the deciding factor.
Seniors Make An Impact
- Carolina's 17 seniors this year include PK Casey Barth, OL Travis Bond, WR Jheranie Boyd, LB Josh Bridges, OG Jonathan Cooper, DE Adam Curry, B Dion Guy, WR Erik Highsmith, OG Peyton Jenest, DB Pete Mangum, OL Jordan Marsh, FB Kenny Owens, FB Devon Ramsay, LB Kevin Reddick, S Gene Robinson, OT Brennan Williams and DT Sylvester Williams.
- Not counting specialist Casey Barth, that group has combined to start 227 games. OG Jonathan Cooper (46), LB Kevin Reddick (42) and WR Erik Highsmith (41) have started more than 40 games in their careers.
- DT Sylvester Williams has started every game since he enrolled from junior college last year (24) and will be making his 25th and final start of his college career this Saturday against Maryland. Williams is projected as an NFL draft pick and he leads the team with six sacks.
- Although he will not be available Saturday due to an ankle injury suffered in the Georgia Tech game, PK Casey Barth is Carolina's all-time leading scorer with 358 points. A starter since his freshman year, Barth made a school-record 66 career field goals and 160 extra points.
- Four-year starter Kevin Reddick is the leader of the Tar Heel defense. He tops the team with 78 tackles and 15.5 tackles for losses. He also had 5.5 sacks and five pass breakups.
- WR Erik Highsmith has started since his freshman year and enters the Maryland game with 164 receptions, which ranks fourth in UNC history. He is just one shy of Na Brown (165 from 1995-98) for third place.
A Win Over Maryland Would...
- Improve the Tar Heels to 8-4 overall, 5-3 in ACC action. The last time Carolina won eight games was the 2010 season after beating Tennessee in the Music City Bowl in Nashville. Carolina last won eight regular season games in 2008 and 2009, but those wins were vacated due to NCAA penalty.
- Be Carolina's first win over Maryland since a 16-13 victory in 2007. It would be just the second win over the Terps in the last seven meetings. Maryland won four straight from 2001-05.
Three-Straight Over Virginia
- North Carolina improved to 7-4 overall and 4-3 in the ACC with a 37-13 victory over Virginia. It was the Tar Heels' third-straight win over the Cavaliers and second consecutive win in Charlottesville. The three-game streak is the longest over Virginia since Carolina won nine straight from 1974-82.
- Carolina's 97-yard touchdown drive across the third and fourth quarters against Virginia was its longest of the season. The Tar Heels also had a 91-yard scoring drive earlier in the game, making it back-to-back weeks with two drives of 90+ yards. The Tar Heels had scoring drives of 93 and 94 yards against Georgia Tech.
Rookie Davis provides spark
- True freshman WR Quinshad Davis was inserted into the starting lineup in the second week of the season and has provided the Tar Heels with a team-high 52 catches for 641 yards and three touchdowns.
- Against Virginia, Davis finished with Carolina single-game freshman records of 16 catches and 178 yards. The previous records were nine catches (Octavus Barnes vs. Texas, 1994 Sun Bowl) and 171 yards (Hakeem Nicks at Notre Dame, 2006). The 16 catches match the ACC record for all players, tied most recently by Wake Forest's Michael Campanero. Davis is one of six ACC players with 16 receptions in a game. Davis has now established a new season high for catches in each of the last three games and a new high for yards in each of the last two weeks.
- Davis also has established a new school record for receptions in a season by a freshman with 52. Giovani Bernard held the record previously with 45 catches in 2011.
- Davis now ranks tied for fifth in ACC history for catches by a freshman and seventh in receiving yards by a freshman.
- Davis scored his first career receiving touchdown against Idaho, a 35-yard catch in the first quarter. Davis also scored another 35-yard receiving touchdown in the third quarter.
Offense On Record-Setting Pace
- North Carolina's offense is on pace to set single-season records for scoring average, passing offense per game and total offense per game.
- The Tar Heels are third in the ACC and 11th in the country with a 40.2 scoring average. The single-season school record for points per game is 35.1 set in 1993. Carolina has scored 30 or more points in eight of 11 games this season. UNC has scored 43 or more points in games against Idaho (66), Elon (65), Georgia Tech (50), Virginia Tech (48) and NC State (43). The Tar Heels also scored 30 at Duke, 34 at Louisville and 37 at Virginia.
- At home, Carolina is averaging 49.3 points per game in six contests.
- Carolina is third in the ACC and 17th in the country in total offense, averaging 484.2 yards of offense per game. As long as Carolina registers positive yardage against Maryland, the Tar Heels will top the single-season school record of 441.8 set in 1983. Carolina has accumulated 500 or more yards of total offense four times this season - 524 vs. Elon, 575 vs. Idaho, 533 vs. Virginia Tech and 570 vs. NC State. Carolina's fewest yards this season was 410 vs. Louisville.
- The Tar Heels are third in the ACC and 26th in the nation in passing offense, averaging 290.5 passing yards per game. The single-season school record of 266.6 was set in 2002. QB Bryn Renner has thrown for more than 300 yards in each of the last three games.
- UNC set a single-game school record for points with 66 against Idaho. The previous record was 65 against Virginia Medical in 1914 and Wake Forest in 1928. It marks the 12th time in school history Carolina has scored 60 or more points in a game. This is the first time Carolina has scored 60 or more points twice in the season. Carolina also set a school record for its largest margin of victory at 66 points, breaking the former record of 65 in 1914 against Virginia Medical and 1928 against Wake Forest.
Bernard & Blue One Shy Of Combo Record
- TB Giovani Bernard and A.J. Blue have combined for 27 total touchdowns so far in 2012, one shy of Curtis Johnson (16) and Leon Johnson's (12) school-record 28 in 1993. Bernard leads the team with 18 touchdowns and Blue ranks second with nine.
Boston Leads UNC's Interception Collection
- Safety Tre Boston scored his first career touchdown on a 36-yard interception return in the second quarter at Virginia. Boston caught the ball near the right hash and ran diagonally across the field before running over a would-be tackler at the goal line. The interception was Boston's fourth of the season and the eighth of his career.
- The Tar Heels rank 14th in the country with 15 interceptions. Eight different Tar Heels have recorded at least one pick. Boston and cornerback Tim Scott lead the team with four apiece.
Cooper Considered Nation's Top Offensive Guard
- Ranked by many analysts as the nation's top offensive guard, senior Jonathan Cooper made four midseason All-America teams (Phil Steele, SI.com, ESPN.com and The Sporting News). Cooper also made NFL draft expert Mel Kiper's Big Board (top 30 players regardless of position) and is part of an offensive line that was recently ranked best in the country by Kiper and ESPN analyst Todd McShay.
- Twice this season Cooper has been named the ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week. He earned the award after a standout performance in Carolina's 18-14 win over Miami and following the Tar Heels' 43-35 victory over NC State.
- Cooper played 85 snaps, posted 18 knockdown blocks and graded out at 90 percent as the Tar Heels recorded 570 yards of offense in a 43-35 victory over NC State. Carolina rushed for 212 yards, averaging 5.4 yards per carry. Cooper has not allowed a sack all season.
- Cooper played all 84 offensive snaps, graded out at a team-best 93 percent, posted 14 knockdown blocks and did not allow a sack in an 18-14 win at Miami. Cooper helped pave the way for Carolina's 272 rushing yards, which included 177 from Giovani Bernard, 77 from Romar Morris and 14 from A.J. Blue. Both of Carolina's touchdowns came on the ground. On the first scoring drive, Cooper had key blocks on three plays that went for 10-or-more yards, including the 10-yard touchdown run by Bernard.
- Cooper was the lead blocker on several of Giovani Bernard's long runs in the Tar Heels' 48-34 win over Virginia Tech. Cooper and the Tar Heels rushed for 339 yards, the first time the Tar Heels have gone over 300 yards rushing as a team since 2004. The 339 yards rushing are the third-most ever allowed by Virginia Tech.
- North Carolina is promoting Cooper for several postseason honors with a weekly video feature called "Hangin' with Mr. Cooper."
Carolina-Georgia Tech Set Records
- Carolina and Georgia Tech combined to score 118 points, the most in ACC history, in the Yellow Jackets' 68-50 victory. The previous record for a game involving an ACC team was 110 (Virginia def. Tulane, 63-47, in 1968). The previous mark for two ACC teams in the same game was 106 (Clemson def. Wake Forest, 82-24, in 1981). The 68 points by Georgia Tech and the 50 points by UNC are also the most for each team in series history.
- Georgia Tech's 68 points were the most ever allowed by UNC at home and the most ever allowed by UNC to a conference opponent. It was the second-highest total by an opponent in school history (69 by Louisville in 2005). The previous high at home was 59 by Maryland in 2002. The previous high by an ACC opponent was 63 by Florida State in 2000.
- The 50 points are the most UNC has ever scored in a loss (previous high was 47 against Syracuse in triple overtime at home in 2003). It is also the most points in a loss in an ACC game in history. The previous mark was 48 by Duke (54-48 loss against Wake Forest in 2010) and by Virginia (55-48 loss against Duke in 2010).
Big Rushing attack
- Carolina is averaging 194.3 rushing yards per game, the highest since averaging 226.9 in 1994. The 1994 season was also the last time Carolina averaged more than 200 yards rushing.
- Carolina rushed for 339 yards vs. Virginia Tech, 287 yards vs. Idaho, 272 at Miami and 212 vs. NC State.
- Carolina rushed for 339 yards against Virginia Tech, the first time the Tar Heels have had more than 300 rushing yards as a team since 2004 (341 vs. William & Mary). The 339 rushing yards were the third-most ever allowed by Virginia Tech.
- All three Tar Heel running backs are averaging more than 5.0 yards per rush, including Giovani Bernard (6.8), Romar Morris (5.6) and A.J. Blue (5.3).
- Carolina's 27 rushing touchdowns are the most since a school-record 39 in 1993.
- Carolina is averaging 74.6 plays per game. Last season, Carolina averaged 62.5 plays per game. Carolina ran 86 plays vs. NC State, 84 plays against Miami and 82 against Wake Forest. The 86 plays vs. NC State were the most for a UNC team since it had 87 in a triple-overtime game vs. Syracuse in 2003. It is the most in a regulation game since running 88 plays at Virginia in 2000.
- Twenty-nine of Carolina's 59 scoring drives this year have taken two minutes or less and 10 of those have been less than a minute.
Special Teams Under larry Fedora
- Larry Fedora emphasizes making game-changing plays in every game on special teams. Fedora's special teams have blocked three punts this season, returned a kickoff for a touchdown vs. Virginia Tech, returned punts for touchdowns vs. Elon and NC State, converted 2-point conversions against Miami, NC State (2) and Georgia Tech, and converted a successful fake field goal at Duke.
- The Tar Heels have 34 punt returns for 484 yards, compared to just 17 for 84 yards for UNC's opponents. Carolina ranks first in the nation with 484 punt return yards and is ranked 10th with a 14.2 average return. The punt return unit is coached by head coach Larry Fedora. The Tar Heels had just 128 punt return yards in 2010 and 74 in 2011.
- Giovani Bernard's 74-yard punt return for a touchdown against NC State came with 13 seconds remaining and propelled the Tar Heels to a 43-35 win. Prior to Bernard's 74-yard return, the longest punt return NC State had allowed this season was an 8-yard return by South Alabama. The punt return was Carolina's first for a score against NC State since Eric Lewis had a 84-yarder in 1986.
- Bernard's 74-yard punt return came on the 18th and final punt of the day (for both teams). Prior to that play, the teams had combined for just nine punt return yards on the previous 17 kicks. NC State finished the game with one punt return yard on two returns; Carolina had eight punt return yards on its first eight returns.
- Carolina blocked a pair of Idaho punts in the first quarter, one by Romar Morris (his second of the season) and one by Pete Mangum. It marked the first time that Carolina has blocked multiple punts in a game since Bruce Carter blocked three punts against Connecticut in 2008.
- Carolina established a school and ACC record for single-game punt return yards with 260 on nine returns against Elon. The previous UNC mark of 225 yards was set against VMI in 1935. The previous ACC mark was 227 by Clemson against Georgia Tech in 1987.
Extra Point Record Intact
- Carolina has made 170 consecutive extra points (Casey Barth 126, Thomas Moore 44). The Tar Heels have not missed an extra point since facing The Citadel in the 2009 season opener. Carolina ranks fourth in the country in games played (49) without a miss. The Tar Heels are also fourth in the nation in consecutive extra points without at miss (170).
Renner Throwing TDs
- QB Bryn Renner has completed 248 of 383 attempts for 3,051 yards, 23 touchdowns and seven interceptions this season. He ranks third all-time at UNC with 49 career touchdown passes, third with 488 career completions and third in career passing yards with 6,151.
- Renner is the only quarterback in UNC history to throw for 3,000 yards in two different seasons. He also threw for 3,086 yards in 2011. The only other quarterback to top 3,000 yards in a season is record-holder T.J. Yates, who had 3,418 in 13 games in 2010. Renner enters his 12th games of the season against Maryland 367 yards shy of Yates.
- Renner broke his own school record by passing for 708 yards in consecutive games, the second time this season he has established that record. Entering the season, Darian Durant held the record with 683 yards in consecutive games against NC State and Arizona State in 2002. Renner topped that mark with 684 against Louisville and East Carolina. He had 358 in UNC's previous game against NC State and 350 against Georgia Tech for 708.
- Three times this year, Renner has surpassed his previous year's single-game yardage high of 338. He passed for a career-best 363 yards at Louisville, 358 vs. NC State and 350 vs. Georgia Tech.
- Renner completed 30 of 47 passes for 358 yards in the win over NC State. Those were career highs in completions and attempts and the 358 yards are the second most in his career (had 363 earlier this year against Louisville). Renner's 30 completions are the fourth-most in a game by a Tar Heel in history. The 30 were the most since TJ Yates had a school-record 33 against the Wolfpack in 2010.
- Renner has thrown for multiple touchdowns in seven of 11 games this season and 16 times in his career.
- Renner tied the UNC single-game record with five touchdown passes against Louisville, a mark he shares with Darian Durant (at Arizona State in 2002) and Kevin Anthony (vs. Wake Forest 1985). Renner finished with a career-best 363 yards, which is the eighth-best single-game total in UNC history. He completed 26 of 41 attempts and averaged 14.0 yards per completion. Renner's previous single-game high in touchdown passes was four vs. ECU in 2011.
Hibbard Among Top Punters In ACC
- Carolina is first in the league and 10th in the country in net punting (40.5 avg) largely due to the improvement of sophomore punter Tommy Hibbard. Hibbard ranks second in the ACC averaging 42.8 yards per punt, compared to 39.2 last year.
- Hibbard had nine punts for an average of 41.2 yards, including a long of 60, in the win over NC State. He also had a pair of successful 2-point conversions on passes to tight end Jack Tabb. The final conversion came after Giovani Bernard's punt return for a touchdown. Carolina planned to kick the extra point, but Hibbard dropped the snap and then rolled out to his right to find Tabb.
- Hibbard punted four times for 173 yards, a 43.2 average, including a long of 54, in Carolina's 18-14 win at Miami. However, his most the most impact after Carolina scored a touchdown to take a 13-7 lead. On the extra point attempt, Hibbard took the snap and passed to Eric Ebron for two points and a 15-7 lead. That proved to be an important 2-point conversion as the Tar Heels held a four-point lead (instead of 3) as the game wound down. Miami drove to the Tar Heels' 29-yard line on its last possession, but could not kick a game-tying field goal. Instead Miami was forced to try to score a touchdown and were stopped by the Carolina defense. Hibbard also successfully got off his last punt of the game with under two minutes remaining despite a poor snap.
Morris Does It All
- Redshirt freshman Romar Morris of Salisbury, N.C., is a dual threat out of the backfield. The speedy tailback has 69 carries for 386 yards and two touchdowns, while also catching 12 passes for 204 yards and two touchdowns.
- Morris posted a career-high 202 all-purpose yards in Carolina's 39-34 loss at No. 19 Louisville. He had 149 yards receiving, 23 yards rushing and 30 yards on kick returns. He also blocked a punt in the fourth quarter, which led to a Carolina touchdown on the next play. Morris became the first Tar Heel to block a punt since Bruce Carter blocked one at Rutgers in 2010. He was named the ACC's receiver of the week for his effort vs. the Cardinals.
- Morris became the first Tar Heel running back with a 100-yard receiving game since Anthony Elzy had 178 vs. NC State in 2010. Morris caught five passes for 149 yards and scored on a 44-yard wheel route down the sideline and a 50-yard catch-and-run that pulled the Tar Heels to within five with 4:23 remaining. Morris averaged 18.4 yards per touch against the Cards.
- Morris gained 70 yards rushing on 14 carries against Wake Forest. He scored his first collegiate touchdown, a 4-yard run in the third quarter. He made his Carolina debut in the win over Elon, rushing 10 times for 49 yards. He also caught one ball for 30 yards. Morris entered the season as the backup to Giovani Bernard.
Blue Provides Leadership At Tailback
- Junior A.J. Blue ranks second on the team with 79 carries for 415 yards and nine touchdowns.
- Blue carried eight times for 57 yards and a pair of touchdowns, his fifth and sixth rushing touchdowns of the season, in a 48-34 win over Virginia Tech. Blue scored on a 1-yard plunge in the second quarter and a 13-yard run in the third.
- Blue made his first career start at tailback in place of injured starter Giovani Bernard at Wake Forest. Blue came into the game with 210 career rushing yards, but gained a career-best 106 on 19 carries against the Deacs. His previous single-game high was 39 yards against Elon in the previous week. Blue played as a true freshman in 2009 as a wildcat quarterback, redshirted in 2010 and rushed for 138 yards in backup duty last year.
- Blue also got the start at Louisville and finished with 43 yards on seven carries, a 6.1 average.
Ebron Sets Tight End Marks
- Eric Ebron has already set the single-season school record for receiving yards by a tight end with 546. He broke the record of 448 set by Mike Chatham in 1979 in the eighth game of the year at Duke. A native of Greensboro, N.C., Ebron has 37 catches for a team-best 568 yards and three touchdowns. His 37 receptions are a UNC single-season record for receptions by a tight end. The previous mark of 36 was held by Ryan Taylor in 2010.
Highsmith Highlights Receiving Corps
- Senior Erik Highsmith headlines Carolina's depleted receiving corps. Highsmith is tied for the team lead with 52 receptions for 560 yards and four touchdowns.
- Highsmith now has 164 career receptions, which ranks fourth all-time at UNC, just one behind Na Brown (165 from 1995-98).
- Highsmith had his second career two-touchdown game in the win at Virginia. He caught a 9-yard TD pass in the first quarter and a 20-yarder in the fourth. Highsmith also had a two-touchdown game vs. Wake Forest in 2011.
- Highsmith scored his first career rushing touchdown in the first quarter of the NC State game on a 45-yard reverse. Highsmith also gained 41 yards on a pass play earlier in the quarter when Marquise Williams lined up at quarterback and lateraled to Renner, who threw downfield to Highsmith.
Tapley Tar Heels Top WR target in End Zone
- WR Sean Tapley is tied with tailback Giovani Bernard with five touchdown receptions this season. He also has a kickoff return for a touchdown. Tapley scored on a 3-yard TD pass from Bryn Renner in the fourth quarter of Carolina's 43-35 victory over NC State. Tapley has 19 catches for 308 yards and is averaging 16.1 yards per catch.
- Tapley scored his first career touchdown, a 62-yard catch-and-run, in the third quarter of Carolina's 27-6 win over ECU.
- Tapley caught two passes for 43 yards including a 19-yard touchdown in the third quarter of Carolina's 48-34 win over Virginia Tech. He also returned a kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter and was named the ACC Specialist of the Week. It was Tapley's first kickoff return touchdown and the first for Carolina since T.J. Thorpe took a kickoff back 100 yards at Clemson in 2011. Tapley now has four touchdowns on the season. The kickoff return touchdown was the first allowed by Virginia Tech since 1993. The Hokies had gone an FBS-record 237 consecutive games without allowing a kickoff return touchdown.
Reddick Captains The Defense
- A preseason All-America candidate, Kevin Reddick is in his fourth year as a starter at middle linebacker. He is first on the team with 78 tackles and leads the team with 15.5 tackles for losses.
- Reddick had a pair of sacks against NC State, including one on the Wolfpack's final possession. That sack pushed the Wolfpack back nine yards and ultimately forced the punt which Bernard returned for the game-winning touchdown.
- Against Elon, he had five tackles and assisted on a tackle for loss in limited duty. He had nine stops and a tackle for loss at Wake Forest. Against Louisville, Reddick rebounded from a subpar first half performance to post four tackles, two tackles for losses and a sack in the second half.
- Reddick caused a fumble with his sack of ECU quarterback Shane Carden in the third quarter of the ECU game. The New Bern, N.C., senior finished with 9 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.
- Reddick recorded seven tackles, had 2.5 tackles for losses, assisted on a sack, added a quarterback hurry and broke up two passes in a 48-34 win over Virginia Tech. On Virginia Tech's last play from scrimmage, Reddick and DT Sylvester Williams combined to sack QB Logan Thomas for an 11-yard loss.
Sly Headlines Defensive Line
- Senior defensive tackle Sylvester Williams turned down an opportunity to leave early for the NFL and returned for his senior season. A junior college standout, Williams improved his resume with his outstanding play during his first season with the Tar Heels. He started every game and finished the season with 54 tackles, including seven for losses, and had one interception and three pass breakups. Williams is a raw talent, who had an interesting journey to major college football, which included stops at Modine Manufacturing Company and Coffeyville Community College in Kansas. After two seasons at Coffeyville, he earned junior college All-America honors in 2010 and accepted a scholarship to Carolina.
- Williams is first on the team with 6.0 sacks and third with 12.5 tackles for losses.
- Williams had three tackles, a tackle for loss and assisted on a sack in UNC's 48-34 win over Virginia Tech. Williams was part of a defensive effort that limited the Hokies to just 40 yards rushing, the fewest by Virginia Tech since the 2007 season opener.