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Under The Radar: Javonte Williams proves to be an offensive catalyst for UNC, one of the ACC’s most-efficient backs

With most of the North Carolina Football headlines dedicated to Mack Brown or freshman quarterback Sam Howell — including here — it seems as though the production of sophomore running back Javonte Williams has flown under the radar. If that’s the case, well, then he’s do some more recognition.

Through the first six games of the season, Williams has carried the ball 83 times for 492 yards (5.3 yards per carry) and three touchdowns. Williams already has two 100-yard rushing performances, including his outing against Georgia Tech: a career-high 144 yards.

The sophomore back’s 492 rushing yards mark just the sixth time since 2000 that a UNC player has rushed for 450+ in the team’s first six games. Williams is the first Tar Heel to eclipse that number since Elijah Hood in 2015. Giovanni Bernard did it twice — 2011 and 2012.

Williams ranks second in the ACC with 19 carries of 10+ yards (23 percent of his total carries) and six carries of 20+ yards. In the ACC: only Boston College star AJ Dillon has more carries of 10+ yards, with 20. Dillon has also carried the ball 144 times this season — 61 more times than Williams. (Halfway through his junior season, Dillon already has 671 career carries, which, whoa.)

Similar to Howell, the fourth quarter has been a bright spot for Williams. During the final quarter, Williams has averaged 6.8 yards per carry; two of his rushing scores have come in the fourth quarter, too.

UNC ranks 48th nationally in offensive efficiency, according to ESPN. Williams has played a major role thus far; as the Tar Heels chase their first bowl bid since 2016, Williams must continue to create big plays out of the backfield.

With three wins, North Carolina is already halfway to bowl eligibility. The win over Georgia Tech marked the first time this season UNC finished a game that wasn’t a one-possession result. North Carolina has a bye this week, which will be followed by a road trip to Virginia Tech (Oct. 19).

 

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