- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Here's a tip for future punt teams who face North Carolina: Get Carter.
Tar Heels linebacker Bruce Carter pulled off something that might be unprecedented in major college football. He blocked three straight punts in Saturday's 38-12 win over Connecticut, giving him four consecutive blocks dating back to last week's victory at Miami. Three other players in FBS history have blocked three punts in a game, but it's unknown if anyone has put together a streak quite like Carter's block party.
North Carolina basketball coach Roy Williams, who watched the game from a box upstairs, probably would like to see Tyler Hansbrough get three blocks in a game.
"Bruce is a freakish athlete," North Carolina defensive lineman Marvin Austin said. "He's one of the strongest, most explosive guys I've ever seen in my life."
Carter got a hand on Miami punter Matt Bosher's kick late in the fourth quarter last week. The kick went only 24 yards, setting up the Tar Heels with good field position and helping lead to their go-ahead score.
On UConn's first attempt in the second quarter, Carter deflected Desi Cullen's punt, though the kick still traveled 47 yards.
"I was really surprised it went as far as it did," Tar Heels coach Butch Davis said.
The next two weren't so fortunate. Carter got a bigger piece of Cullen's second attempt, and the wounded duck was recovered by another UConn player one yard behind the original line of scrimmage. The third block was the most productive, as teammate Matt Merletti pounced on it in the end zone for a touchdown.
"It came as a surprise to me," Carter said of his special night on special teams. "I think I was just rushing hard. I go hard every play. If everybody goes hard, you never know who might open up."
Actually, Davis had some idea. He said Connecticut had changed its personal protector, the guy who lines up directly behind the snapper, because of an injury.
"We felt like if we could kind of confuse them a little bit with some of the alignments, we might get some pressure off the edge," he said. "It wasn't anything spectacular by scheme, other than guys giving great effort. And certainly Bruce made some great plays."
Carter said UConn moved the personal protector toward him on the third block, "but I was lucky enough to get there." Against Miami, he said, he wasn't really supposed to rush the punter.
"I've kind of been doing my own thing," he said. "But as long as I get there, coach doesn't say anything."
He works on punt blocking in practice and studies film and technique. He learned from a missed opportunity last year against South Carolina.
"I could have got one but I jumped in the air," he said. "You've got to shoot your hands down, not up."
Carter sure seems to have it figured out now. Future punt teams better beware.