by Jacob Swiger
It didn't affect the outcome of Saturday's 19-6 victory over nearby rival Duke, but running back Shaun Draughn fractured his shoulder blade on the first play from scrimmage and will miss the remainder of the 2009 season, a UNC spokesman wrote in an e-mail release Sunday.
Draughn is UNC's leading rusher with 567 yards on the season and has scored a touchdown. He joins Jamal Womble and A.J. Blue as running backs with season-ending injuries for the Heels.
The short yardage back, Ryan Houston, filled in for Draughn against the Blue Devils and carried the team, racking up 164 rushing yards on 37 carries. Houston's carries had been increasing the past several games in an effort to advance the rushing game and many have thought he should start for the Tar Heels.
At this point in the season, depth becomes even more important, and the loss of Draughn leaves the Heels to rely on fullback Anthony Elzy to backup Houston. UNC has used wide receiver reverses in the rushing game the past several games and the lack of a speed rusher will cause John Shoop to use more of the plays to get rushing yards outside of the tackles.
Houston recorded his first 100-yard career performance against the Blue Devils and has 451 yards and seven touchdowns on the season. The big backs bruising style alleviated some of the offensive line's inconsistencies early in the season, yet Shoop and the coaching staff must revamp the offense to suit his strengths.