I usually write up a recap of any UNC Football game either the same day or early the next, mostly depending on the time the game is played. This time I took a bit more time, mainly due to the fact it took time for the game and its meaning to truly sink in. Yes, the reality is that the Tar Heels once again went against the Yellow Jackets, this time at the Bobby Dodd Stadium, but they did it playing a lot better, losing 28 to 20 rather then the no defense score of a season ago, when final was 68 to 50.
Sure, if you watched the game, after one half of the game no one believing that North Carolina (1-2, 0-1 in the ACC) could have finally pulled out a victory against Georgia Tech (3-0, 2-0 in the ACC) could have been blamed, even if this was on the road. However, after sixty minutes, that would not be the case, as the Jackets came from behind and left both the Heels and its fan base hoping for another shot at this divisional foe.
Some could say that the less than good weather hurt the Tar Heels’ pass oriented offense while also helping the Yellow Jackets’ running game. On the other hand, watching UNC’s tight end Eric Ebron (6 catches for 108 yards and 1 TD) one handed catch, it is hard to blame the rain too much on this game. At least for this play, anyway. Listening to the head at the helm, when it comes to his tight end it is not the weather that will make a difference to him…
“When you catch the ball in the middle, you’re going to get the tar knocked out of you, and it doesn’t bother him,” Fedora said.
The reality is that the weather did make a huge difference, making UNC’s quarterback Bry Renner, who passed 218 yards, with 2 TDs and an INT on 14 of 29 attempts, floated a lot of balls due to the rain slick pigskin. The senior’s two touchdowns has him tied with T.J. Yates for second most in school history, ten behind Darian Durant’s 68.
All in all, bad weather, a not great running game (101 yards in 24 carries) and a still in need of improvement defense, head coach Larry Fedora had his squad ahead by 20 to 7 on the road with about 10 minutes to go in the first half, and still up by a score when halftime arrived in Atlanta.
But just like one of the song that has made that state popular by The Charlie Daniels Band, it was Johnny’s turn to play, and in this case the fiddler was Vad Lee. Between the quarterback and his two top backs, the Yellow Jackets pounded out over 250 yards on the ground and 100 through the air. Overall GA Tech rushed 77 times for 324 yards. In the meantime all things that were going right with the Tar Heels at the beginning of the game did not quite as well in the latter part of it. When it was said and done, UNC’s offense only had the ball for eight minutes out of the last 35…
“We were poor on our side (on third down conversions), too many third-and-outs. They did a nice job of moving the chains on their side. When you get them in a situation like that, that’s what they’re best at, getting three yards, four yards, and moving the chains. You’ve got to give them credit there. I thought our defensive played extremely hard throughout the game. Late in the game, we started missing some tackles, and that hurt us.”
Like many games, the turning moment of a game might a play that will never make it into the score box, since it would be voided by a penalty. In this instance that play was a pass from UNC’s Bryn Renner to Ryan Switzer (1 pass for 6 yards), which was called back by a hold. From then on the UNC Football offense could not find the right gear anymore, unable to get a good drive going for most of the remainder of the game.
So what can we pull out of this game? First off, weather or not, UNC Football is still a good running game and better defense behind Georgia Tech, as well as being behind Miami. On the other hand, the rest of the games for the Tar Heels should all be games where, if the Heels play to their potential, they should be all up for grabs. We need to also remember looking at the 2013 campaign, that anyone not wearing carolina blue shades had the two losses that this squad has penciled in an L when the schedule came out.
The key to this season might just be the next three games, with North Carolina hosting in-state foe East Carolina at home this week, then on the road against Virginia Tech and finally back in Kenan Stadium against Miami, which will be another Thursday night game. How the team handles the games and, even more importantly, improves in all departments, is going to pave the way for the back end of the 2013 campaign.
It also means that for those fans that are, no pun intended, fair weathered, they need to stop nit picking at what can be the beginning of the next step for this program and support the team through its growing pains, because, like it or not, believe it or not, there will be many of them, and some of them will be coming in the next three weeks!