If you are a optimist what you took out of the North Carolina (1-4 & 0-2 in the ACC) versus Virginia Tech (5-1 & 2-0 in the ACC) game is that head coach Larry Fedora’s squad was a lot better, in almost all facets, than a week before against East Carolina. If you are a pessimist, you are saying… better or not, the 2013 edition of the UNC Football team just took another loss, this time by the final score of 27 to 17. And then there is me… who said in my preview that this game to me was feeling a lot like the one that the team had against Georgia Tech, where they could have won, but in the end they would not.
Unfortunately, due to physical and mental mistakes by the the Tar Heels, that is exactly what happened. They played a decent game, but just not good enough to overcome the mistakes they would make in the sixty minutes of playing time. With the loss UNC falls to 10-19-6 all time against VT and 2-4 when playing in Blacksburg.
After having watched the game a second time, there are parts of the game where the thought of winning the game were there. However, reality would set in. The offense, with Marquise Williams replacing Bryn Renner due to an injury to the senior, played well in stints, but is still struggling with the running game. The defense, who in the second half looked a lot better (allowing just 64 yards on 27 plays after intermission), still gives up big plays and mistackles. But what has not changed is how many penalties the team is accumulating. Even worst, when they are getting them.
UNC had over twice as many penalties (11 to 5) than VT for over three times the yards (79 to 24). One denying a punt return for a touchdown that could have changed the momentum at a time where the defense had kept the Hokies’ offense in check. This is the third week in a row that the team has had a touchdown called back due to a penalty. Another flag on a third down, where they could stopped the opposition and made them kick a field goal, gave Tech first down and another shot at seven, which the Hokies took full advantage of. Add to that the fact that Carolina had three turnovers to Virginia Tech’s none, and that is pretty much the game in a nutshell.
Getting back to the positives, many thought that back up QB Marquise did a very good job, especially against the defense he was facing. The numbers would back that up, as the sophomore went 23-35 for 277 yds, two TDs and two INTs in his first game under center. The key now becomes, with almost two weeks before the Heels are back in action, if Renner is back to full health, will a QB controversy erupt both in the main stream media, with the blogs and in the UNC web boards? Which reminds me, on a side note, I broke my first rule of not getting involved in discussions on social media right after a game, and a hundred-fifty posts later… I did not change others mind and they did not change mine.
After having given the game a second viewing, being able to let go of the the knee jerk reactions that you can have right after a game, I can say this pretty securely… it won’t matter from now until the end of the 2013 season who is under center if this UNC Football squad does not stop with penalties, doesn’t play a full game both on offense and defense, the losses will continue to pile on.
Can we say that if this team had played against East Carolina like they did yesterday they would have won? Possibly, but a win more really does not hide that this team has a lot more kinks in its armor than we all thought coming into the campaign. The coaching staff needs to stop gushing of yards coming from the yellow hankies, the missed chances on offense and the aerial defense that seems to be, to steal a phrase from Stephen A. Smith, “an accident waiting to happen”. And unfortunately the accidents are plural in most games.
As a Miami program, looking to stay close to the Top 10 ranking they have achieved, makes its way toward Chapel Hill and the friendly confines of Kenan Stadium for a Thursday night game, where it’s the only game of the night, the coachea have a lot to do in order to keep the game respectable, but if the Heels keep making the same mental mistakes, it won’t matter much what else happens. It will be ugly!