As I do most every game that I do a recap of, I watched twice the game before talking about it. The one between North Carolina (1-3) and East Carolina (3-1) has almost left me speechless. Not so much the score, with the guest winning 55 to 31. The first win by the Pirates in almost forty years by ECU in Kenan Stadium. It was the way both teams arrived at their respective scores that has me wondering one thing… what has happened to this UNC Football squad?
Let me warn you that if you are not into bashing when the team loses I would avoid most every web board, as well as twitter accounts and Facebook, having to do with UNC Football tonight (and probably for the next couple of days). And while I am not one to want to lay blame on young men, this game was as ugly as I seen the Heels play under head coach Larry Fedora. Yes, it was worst, far worst, than the one that the Heels lost to the Yellow Jackets last season. It was also a far cry from what North Carolina did with this opponent last season, practically shutting them down 27-6.
The defense for the Tar Heels was basically non existent, as it gave up over 600 yards to East Carolina. This is the fourth game in a row that the Heels’ D gives up at over 400 yards. It would be hard for a good offense to counter balance that, and unfortunately Carolina’s offense isn’t good this season. Actually, it’s not even mediocre right now, especially when it comes to the running game. Not to begin with cliches, but for this campaign it seems that “nothing changes if nothing changes” fits the bill, since there is not much in form of replacements to make a huge change in this department, while the improvement does not seem to be there right now.
The team has a whole just played sloppy, shown by the way too many penalties, nine in all, for 94 yards, several being being personal fouls and one a roughing the passer call. And while some negated offensive plays, two of these penalties were on fourth down, giving East Carolina first down and kept them moving, not that they needed it this game. Even special teams had their problems with the yellow hankies, as a block in the back nullified a 55 yard return, something that might have given UNC some sort of momentum.
Even if this game was above average for UNC Football in penalties, in all the Tar Heels have been flagged 27 times for over 250 yards this season. That is just 150 less than the team has gained on the ground in 2013.
In all East Carolina punted twice in the game and had an interception, meaning that Carolina stopped its opponents three times for the whole game. Last time that happened? Last season, when UNC lost 68 to 50 to Georgia Tech.
On offense the numbers would say that quarterback Bryn Renner had a good game, but like in plenty of instances, numbers alone never tell the whole story. A lot of the passes by the senior gun slinger were not on the mark and it was more thanks to the great effort of his receivers than his accuracy that they were completed. One of the few highlights in the first half was a 33 yard touchdown pass, but Renner had nothing to do with it…
If we want to sum up the game in one simple sentence… East Carolina outplayed North Carolina, be it on offense, defense or special teams.
Coach Fedora began his post game presser by saying the following…
Very disappointing performance by the Tar Heels today. It was hard for me to find something positive from the sidelines, I’m going to have to look at the film to find the positives in this game and to try to build on some things. We’ve got, as I’ve said before, we’ve got a long way to go. (There are) still too many missed tackles defensively, still too many penalties, not playing smart and still not clicking on offense, you know, unable to run the ball efficiently. So we still have to get a lot better.
The game was so unexpected and lopsided that there are articles coming out speaking about where this win ranks for ECU. It was just that one sided in Kenan, and whether we want to accept that or not, to use another cliche… “it is what it is”.
If we want to sum up the season in a single sentence, that too is pretty simple… if the team continues like this forget the ACC divisional title, which most have already done so, but also forget getting into a bowl game, as this squad won’t win six games if they keep playing like this.
There is a good chance, especially if this team does not turn it around, that head coach Larry Fedora will have a 1 and 5 team once Carolina plays Virginia Tech this week on the road and #15 Miami on Thursday night in Kenan. Not sure if the team can come back and win five out of the last six to achieve a .500 season. In a campaign where the conference has still four undefeated teams, being one of the only two teams in the ACC below .500 (WF is 2-3) just does not sit well with the fans. Doing it with a loss like the one Carolina just suffered just makes it worst.
I said in my recap about the last game for Carolina, when they lost to Georgia Tech, that a few plays going differently could have been the difference in the Heels winning that game. In this one, it would have taken a lot more than a few plays. A lot, lot more than a few plays.
Seeing the difference in talent of the two squads, that means that UNC took a step back from that game to this one. Or, even worst, as one tweet by a UNC Football player states, some of of the guys did not give their all today.
#UNC RB A.J. Blue said he could tell before the game "that certain guys knew they weren’t going to give it 100 percent out there today."
— Andrew Carter (@_andrewcarter) September 28, 2013
I truly hope this not to be the case, but if it is, I would expect things to take a turn for the worst and for rumors to begin to swirl around the football program. The last thing that a team like this one truly needs.
Whatever it is that is going on in Chapel Hill, the team needs to snap out of it, as they head to Blacksburg this week, where Virginia Tech holds the top spot in the Coastal and wants all the divisional victories they can get. If the Heels do not get the offense in a better state and the D somewhat on track what happened yesterday in Kenan might not even compare to the mess that could be next weekend.