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Times wires

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Nearing the midpoint of the season, North Carolina still hasn't figured out how to get its offense moving like last year.

The Tar Heels host No. 10 Miami on Thursday night knowing they'll have to move the football better to give themselves a chance.

Their line hasn't protected quarterback Bryn Renner as well and hasn't opened as many running lanes. The tailbacks haven't consistently made plays. And there have been smaller breakdowns - a missed block here, a miscommunication there - throughout the lineup.

As a result, UNC's numbers are down in several categories, most notably by 17 points from last year's record average of 40.6 per game.

"We're not playing up to our expectations and our goals this season," offensive tackle James Hurst said. "You want to play better than we have. But those games have been played and there's nothing we can do about them now besides look at them to correct ourselves. That's the kind of attitude we're having."

The biggest drop has come in the running game, where UNC is averaging just more than half of last year's total at 100 yards a game. And the Tar Heels have given up 11 sacks this year, matching the total for all of last year.

The Hurricanes could make things tougher. They have the nation's No. 9 scoring defense (16 points a game) and No. 12 total defense (307 yards). And coach Al Golden has his defense ready for the fast tempo UNC wants to run.

AUBURN: Quarterback Nick Marshall will start against Texas A&M, returning after missing a game with a knee injury.

Nebraska: Spencer Long, the team's top offensive lineman, is out for the season with a left knee injury. Surgery is scheduled for Thursday.

N.C. State: Defensive back Jarvis Byrd is out for the season after tearing an anterior cruciate ligament for the third time in five years.

Texas A&M: Grass from Kyle Field went on sale Monday. A pallet of about 450 square feet of sod costs $400 and comes with a certificate of authenticity. A new playing surface will be installed for next season.

Basketball: The SEC officially made Nashville its primary home for the men's tournament with the league holding championships there in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2023, 2024 and 2025. The deal also includes dates for women's tournaments in 2018, 2022 and 2026.