When I did my PTE podcast this morning I said that the schools from the Triangle would go 2 and 1, with Duke being the only team losing on the road at Standford. After having watched the game at BB&T Stadium I know that my prediction was wrong, as the North Carolina football program suffered its first loss under new head coach Larry Fedora, falling 28 to 27 to Wake Forest. The game did not begin well as severe weather delayed the start from 3:30 p.m. to about 4:15 p.m. EST, and, as you can see by the above stated final score, it did not end well, as the Demon Deacons scored with about 2 minutes to go taking the lead for good.
In my preview of the game I had my keys to the game…
No turnovers. Unfortunately North Carolina had two of them, both of which were costly. The first one, a fumble by Bryn Renner on the possession following the major hit on the UNC quarterback (more on that later) gave Wake the ball on the Carolina 20. Three plays later the Demon Deacons were scoring a touchdown and taking the lead for the first time in the game, 21 to 14. The second one, again by Brenner, was an interception after the opposition had gone up 28 to 27, and even if the Heels would get the ball back the pick basically sealed the deal in this game.
Go, Gio, Go! This should be changed to No, Gio, No, since the running back did not play in this one and coach Fedora went with A.J. Blue (19 for 106 yards) and Romar Morris (14 for 70 yds), with both of the running backs scoring a touchdown in the game. While some people might say that the absence of Bernard could have made a difference I am not of that opinion, as the two that took his spot did just fine.
Coach Fedora said of the two backs in the game…
“I thought they did a really nice job. Both of them ran the ball very well. They did a nice job in protection. I didn’t see many mistakes from them. I thought they ran extremely hard and they took care of the football.”
And on the conditions of Giovani Bernard…
“I’m not concerned. I really thought he was going to be able to go today and I don’t think he’s that far away in all indication from just talking to him, because, as a running back, if you don’t have your wheels and things don’t feel right, especially when you’re his style of runner, you can’t do much. I’m not concerned. I’m hoping he’ll be ready to go this week.”
Winning in the trenches. We could say this did happen on the offensive side, for the most part anyway. However it can not be said on the defensive side, as the front seven did not apply enough pressure and Wake’s Tanner Price went 27 for 38 for 327 yards, 13 of those completions (for 164 yds) going to Michael Campanaro. For most of the game, with the exception of the last part of the 3rd quarter and most of the 4th, Wake Forest was able to hit any of its receivers at will and if not for a few drops on the part of the Demon Deacons this game might not have been as close.
Coach Fedora said this about Wake’s passing game…
“I didn’t see too much pressure on the quarterback (Tanner Price) all night. I didn’t see anybody close to any receivers. It will be interesting to see on film.”
Set the pace early. The pace might have been like what UNC coaches wanted, but I highly doubt that the execution was what the coaching staff wanted out of the squad. Both squads had eight penalties, but it felt like UNC’s came everytime the team did not need them at all. This includes two personal fouls that cost the team dearly. On the other end it seemed that every time that the Carolina D had held tight against Wake’s offense for the first two downs they would give up a first down to a wide open wide out on the third snap of the series.
Having talked about the game itself let me talk about Bryn Renner. For those that watched the game, as North Carolina was going down for their second score the quarterback rolled to his right, did not see anyone opened, tucked the ball and tried to run it in himself. He was pummeled at the goal line, to the point that he seemed to have passed out on the field for a few seconds. (If you watch the video you can see the hit at about the 1:22 mark) The Carolina QB was back in the game the next time the Heels were on offense, and even if he did not look quite himself and in that series he fumbled, overall he did not look too bad, but just did not seem like himself. He did throw some so-so balls and had the interception which seemed way off, but the junior said he got the wind knocked out of him and that’s it. However, if you look at the video and the picture below you have to say it’s a pretty scary sight.
In a season where everyone, in one way or another, wants to forget about the past this squad just repeated itself once again. In the new millennium North Carolina football has gone 2 and 11 in ACC opening games, the only two wins coming in 2000 (vs Wake) and in 2011 (vs UVa). Which means that a team that is not at the top of a conference which is definitely not at the top of college football is putting itself behind the eight ball from the get go. If you want national recognition you need to win, by losing the first game of the conference schedule you are just giving everyone an excuse not to bother with your program. In my “12 for 12″ I spoke about momentum. Today the Heels lost a lot of it.
But right now, for the North Carolina football team, there is no time to get down on themselves as they have to regroup, work out the kinks and then travel to Louisville, Kentucky to take on what many believe is the front runner to win the Big East. When doing my season break down this was the one game I thought that UNC would lose until they were to face Virginia Tech in what the school is calling “the white out” game. Without a doubt it’s going to be a long week for both the players and the coaches, hopefully it will be a productive one as well. For more on North Carolina football and/or basketball make sure to check back to isportsweb!