The best show in Chapel Hill, N.C., this football season has been watching Rod Broadway turn the University of North Carolina defense into a hit.
Broadway has been nothing but trouble to opponents, who have been able to beat the Tar Heel defenders for only 44 points in seven games so far this year.
Carolina's defense, ranked 10th in the nation, is the main reason why the Tar Heels, and not defending ACC champion Maryland, are leading the league entering Saturday's showdown between the schools at Byrd Stadium.
Although Carolina won nine games last year and went on to Peach Bowl, coach Bill Dooley was not satisfied with the way his defense finished the season. In its last three regular season games, it surrendered 460 yards, 241 (to Virginia) and 460 again. And three of that unit's best players have graduated.
Broadway missed last year with a knee injury and had to win back a starting spot. Once he did, the unit gained the continuity it never had in 1976.
Opponents have not been able to run up the middle against the Tar Heels' interior force of nose guard Dave Simmons (6-foot 4, 205 pounds), Dee Hardison (6-4, 251) and Braodway (6-3, 244). This trio has helped limit foes to 141 yards per game on the ground.
Hardison, a candidate for player of the year, is Broadway's roomate. While Broadway is quiet and aggressive, Hardison who wants to be a kindergarten teacher, is happy-go-lucky. The strongest man on the team, he is more effective against the run while Broadway derives his pleasure from sacking the quaterback.
And to make matters more uncomfortable for Claiborne, Carolina is getting loads of defensive help from ends Ken Sheets (Woodbridge) and T.K. McDaniels (Bladensberg) and free safety Bernie Menapaoe (Broad Run).
Dooley will come to Byrd Stadium with his usual contingent to Washington area players, including starting tackle Steve Junkmann (Woodbridge), wingback Mel Collins (W.T. Woodson) and fullback Bob Loomis (Spring-brook).
Collins, once the Washington area high school player of the year, has caught eight passes for 102 yards and a touchdown and has gained 44 more yards on nine carries. Loomis has picked up 158 yard on 32 tries in Dooley's tailback-oriented offense.