CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- A continuation of the consistency that No. 21 Notre Dame has displayed during a three-game winning streak will be important against struggling North Carolina on Saturday at Kenan Stadium.
That's one of Irish coach Brian Kelly's main points to his team, which could be facing a bit of adversity with quarterback Brandon Wimbush turning up with an injured right foot.
"I'm satisfied with our preparation and the mindset we've taken on Saturdays," Kelly said. "That leads to how we do on a consistent basis week-in and week-out."
But the status of Wimbush, a multi-threat quarterback who has rushed for eight touchdowns, could put a kink into some of the continuity. He also has thrown for six touchdowns.
"He experienced some foot soreness after the game, so we put him in a walking boot," Kelly said Tuesday, referring to the aftermath of Saturday's 52-17 whipping of visiting Miami of Ohio.
Wimbush is listed as day-to-day.
So that means backup Ian Book might receive more practice work prior to the matchup at North Carolina.
It would seem like a more glamorous setting for North Carolina if the Tar Heels (1-4) weren't simply trying to figure out what might work. Still, maybe this is the type of matchup that can energize the team.
"I'm sure our fans love it," North Carolina coach Larry Fedora said. "It will be great for Chapel Hill. It's good for everybody."
This marks the second ranked foe for the Tar Heels this season, with three more currently in the rankings on the slate for later in the season.
"It's a great opportunity for our team, having them coming here," Fedora said of the Irish. "We've got so much to worry about within ourselves right now, making sure we're right."
North Carolina's defense has had numerous holes and the Tar Heels lost linebacker Andre Smith to a season-ending injury. Run-oriented Georgia Tech posted 403 yards on the ground against the Tar Heels last week, so they ought to know what's coming from the Irish.
"They find a way to run the football," Fedora said. "So they've got to be doing a great job up front. Play-action pass and throwing the ball when they need to."
Notre Dame running back Josh Adams ranks fourth nationally with 658 rushing yards this season; he has more than 2,400 yards in his career. The junior posted his 11th 100-yard rushing game last week against Miami of Ohio.
Plus, the Irish have been opportunistic, scoring 70 points off opponents' 11 turnovers.
The Tar Heels have led in the fourth quarter in four of their games, yet won only one of those. That makes North Carolina's record deceptive, Kelly said.
"With four of five games, they've had a lead (in) the fourth quarter," he said. "We're going to have to play up to our standards."
North Carolina's offense has been sputtering despite the efforts of redshirt freshman Chazz Surratt, who'll make his fifth career start.
"He's still progressing," Fedora said. "We have to make sure to put him in positions where he's making good decisions."
Even with the losing record, Fedora said this is no time to be looking too far ahead in regard to Surratt. The goal is to win right away.
"Long-term development is not a concern at this point," Fedora said. "I'm not thinking about down the road with him. All I'm doing is trying to make sure we have a plan in place that he can execute this week."
The Tar Heels have been hurt by injuries, making it more difficult for Surratt. They lost senior receiver Austin Proehl for the season in the Duke game two weeks ago. He joined a list of receivers -- including Thomas Jackson, Rontavius Groves and tight end Carl Tucker -- who have also been lost for the season since the schedule began.
So Surratt is trying to develop new on-field relationships.
"That's definitely a challenge," Surratt said. "There's still some chemistry there. ... We have to keep with that philosophy, next man up."
That has left Anthony Ratliff-Williams, a converted quarterback, as perhaps the go-to target in the passing attack.
North Carolina has turned to Jordon Brown as the primary running back ahead of Michael Carter.
Notre Dame has won 17 of the previous 19 meetings with the Tar Heels, including a 50-43 decision in 2014 at South Bend, Ind. Both North Carolina victories came at home in 1960 and 2008.
This year, the Tar Heels are 0-3 at home, with losses to California, Louisville and Duke. Dating to last season, they have lost four in a row on home turf.