UNC 20, Virginia Tech 17: The Serious Post

Frankly, Virginia Tech, we’re just as surprised as you are. After the horrible month that the Heels had, there was almost nothing to indicate that we would be able to execute well enough to beat perhaps our toughest opponent of the season on the road. There were only three indications that we stood a chance:

1. Carolina has played the Hokies close each of the last two years, and neither the Heels nor Tech were markedly different from the 2007 and 2008 editions.

2. The Heels have a fantastic defense, and Virginia Tech’s offense has struggled consistently. If the front could keep Ryan Williams in check, the offense might have a chance.

3. This is the ACC; whatever the most bizarre result might be, tends to be what happens.

So, in spite of what might be the worst interception you’ll see all year, the perfect storm happened. The defense shut out the Hokies for two quarters, and had Tyrod Taylor fumbled three inches sooner it would have been three quarters. Somehow, someway, John Shoop and the UNC offense put together two creative and well-executed touchdown drives in the second and third quarters. The team had the guts to go for it on 4th and 7 with five minutes left in the game, and they converted with a big pass play up the middle to set up the game-tying field goal.

The fumble was just a big break, and the Heels were able to take advantage. Like many UNC fans, I thought the game was lost after the pick. But the team did an excellent job of not allowing a bad break to affect the rest of the game.

This was the game I thought Carolina was most likely to lose, and the 0-3 start in the ACC did nothing to quell those fears. After this game, the rest of the season is looking a lot less gloomy. On to Duke.

Some Last Minute Thoughts on Florida State

A few reasons why this game is so important for UNC.

1. For Bowl Aspriations. With two FCS opponents on our schedule, the Heels need to finish 7-5 or better to be bowl eligible. After the opening two performances in conference, that task is looking a lot harder. A win here will build momentum in the right direction, while a loss coupled with next Thursday’s game in Blacksburg could send Carolina into a freefall.

2. Because Florida State’s defense is bad. As stated in Tomahawk Nation’s excellent and relentless coverage, Florida State defense ranks 101st in the nation, and pass defense is their particular soft adng ooey center. If there’s a game to get the offense on track, this is it.

3. Because everyone’s watching. For the next two weeks the heels are going to get exclusive or near-exclusive primetime coverage against big-name teams (even if FSU is 2-4). Good performances could not only propel us to 6-2, but bolster our standing in the ever-growing college football jungle.

4. Because of what Florida State has done here. The Seminoles’ last trip to Kenan Stadium in 2003 ended in 37-0 thrashing that remains one of the worst team performances I have seen in person. And I saw the 1999 Houston game. Perhaps even more enraging was their visit on November 8, 1997, still the most vividly hyped UNC football game in my lifetime. 9 hours before the game, and it was already like a rock concert at Kenan. With a win, UNC put themselves into the National Championship discussion. Then Thad Bleeping Busby had to kill the mood and the Noles won 20-3.

An then there was my first UNC game ever, the 1995 FSU game. It rained, extra points were blocked, Seminole fans were at the peak of their vintage bravado, and the kept playing that damn song over and over. Needless to say, this did not leave a good impression on an 8 year old boy. So yeah, we really don’t care much for Florida State.

5. To finish what we started. UNC’s lone win against Florida State was perhaps my favortie game ever as a UNC fan. The Heels are 0-3 in 2001 after taking beatings at Oklahoma, Maryland, and Texas. Then after 9/11, the SMU game was rescheduled and our home opener was…Florida State. Most fans, myself included, expected the worst. To everyone’s delight, UNC won by a score of 41-9 in perhaps the most satisfyingly dominant performance by the Heels I have ever seen. Before that game Bobby Bowden had lost only 2 ACC games in 10 seasons. in the 8 and a half seasons since, his teams have lost 24. A loss tonight, and a 2-5 start, could be the final hook that pulls Bobby off the stage.

Really, the last three only matter to fans, but it’s fun to put those thoughts to paper. So yeah…no pressure, guys.

Your Encouraging Statistic 48 Hours Before the Florida State Game

Using the sheer, awesome power of science, we are about to prove why UNC is going to beat Florida State Thursday night.

FACT! Both of UNC’s losses were noon games on Raycom.

FACT! UNC’s near-loss to UConn was also a noon game on ESPNU.

FACT! This game will be played at night on ESPN.

FACT! Florida State has incurred all four of their losses this season on the ESPN family of networks. Their ideal TV network: Versus

THEREFORE! We’ve got this game in the bag. It’s science!

(On a bummer tangent, there is only one word to accurately describe the death of Jasper Howard: sad.)

Party Like It’s 1999

This season the defense has been awesome and the offense has been terrible. I admit that I wasn’t expecting the offense to improve by leaps and bounds this year, but i don’t think anyone believed it would be this bad. All in all, this season has had a very Torbushian feel to it.

At first I thought this was pure coincidence. But then I saw this team run a screen play. On 3rd and long. Shoop’s playcalling is predictable, but even he knows better then that.

Then I happened to stumble across this COMPLETELY untouched photo of “Butch Davis” at practice earlier this week:

butchdavis_2

Look familiar?

You just couldn’t stay away, could you Carl. This, of course, leaves us with two questions:

1. Where have you kidnapped and hidden the real Butch Davis?

2. This means we’re losing to Georgia Southern 3-2, aren’t we?

Virginia 16, UNC 3: Tar Heel Mania Is a Sad Panda

UNC is now 7-20-1 against UVa in the Welsh era.

There is no positive way to spin this. We lost at home to a team who lost at home to William & Mary.

Against BCS teams we are averaging less than 200 yards of offense per game.The offensive line is decimated, the wide receivers are still green, and John Shoop hasn’t changed up anything. At all.As bad as T.J. Yates has played, Dave Shinskie is in a better offensive situation than he is. And that’s saying a lot.

If the situation does not change–and there is very little indication that it will–missing out on a bowl is a very real possibility.

Considering what the preseason aspirations were, it’s very difficult to face the truth: despite talented players and a good defense, Carolina is a bad team right now.

And that makes me a sad, sad panda.

ACC Roundtable: Conference Paranoia Edition

It’s that time of the week again, time for an ACC fan to be picked at random, ask questions, and have even more random ACC fans answer them. This week’s ACC Roundtable is from BC Interruption.

Now that most ACC teams’ non-conference schedules are winding down and we are starting league play, it’s time to take the vitals of the ACC’s play in non-conference action. Here is how the ACC fared against the rest of college football through 4 weeks (based on my back-of-the-envelope math):

BCS Conference Record Win Pct.
vs. Big East 2-2 .500
vs. Pac 10 1-1 .500
vs. Big XII 1-2 .333
vs. SEC 0-2 .000
The Rest Record Win Pct.
vs. MAC 1-0 1.000
vs. I-A Indep. aka Army 1-0 1.000
vs. Conference USA 2-1 .666
vs. Sun Belt 1-1 .500
vs. Mountain West 1-2 .333
vs. FCS I-AA 9-2 .818
Overall 19-13 .593

Comment on your team’s (if applicable, sorry Miami) and the conference’s non-conference performance through 4 weeks. As a conference, what head-to-head record against another conference stands out to you most?

Carolina is going to go 4-0 for the out of conference slate. That’s pretty good, but considering the four opponents (Citadel, UConn, ECU, Ga. Southern) any loss other than the UConn game would have been disastrous. As for the conference, it doesn’t look good. Even if you take Bird GT’s point and take off Duke, Virginia and Maryland’s 2-8 record, you also have to eliminate the 7 other FCS wins from the other 9 teams in the conference. The top 9 ACC teams have a record of 10-5 against FBS competition. It’s okay, but aside from Florida State’s win in Provo, no one has beaten a particularly good OOC team. In essence, we’ve learned nothing.

(Because we like to fan the ACC vs. Big East flames …) The only BCS conferences the ACC has a .500 record against so far this year is the Big East (4 games) and the Pac-10 (2 games). Yikes. In a weekend where 2 of 3 Big East teams knocked off ACC teams, we have to ask. The ACC is still > Big East, right? Right??

You’re not having any second thoughts about moving to the ACC, are ya? ‘Cause that’s mutiny.

Let me put it this way. Imagine this raw chicken is Tony Pike, star quarterback of Cincinnati, potential Heisman candidate and best offensive player in the Big East. Imagine that the 80s metal band Dokken is any ACC defense he would face in the Orange Bowl.

That is to say: I’m not worried about where we stand against the Big East. (thrusts hips, incinerates Greg Paulus)

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is losing to a CAA team and 10 is getting the ACC some much needed street cred by winning the BCS MNC, how satisfied are you with your AD’s non-conference scheduling this year? With the non-conference opponents your program has lined up over the next few years, will you be more or less satisfied?

I’m not very satisfied with UNC’s scheduling in 2009, if only because having two FCS teams on the schedule benefits absolutely no one. The good news is that UNC is playing SEC teams each of the next four seasons, including LSU next year. So that’s nice.

Last one, ESPN’s College GameDay is heading to Chestnut Hill this week for Florida State (2-2) at Boston College (3-1). Both teams are unranked. Parts of the blogosphere are going completely ape s**t over the WWL’s selection. Justify the selection (if you can). If not, tell us why you dislike the selection.

Honestly, I don’t know how to properly answer that question. Allow me to ignore it and post a picture of funny-looking Italian man instead.

Considering We’re Only Hours From The Georgia Tech Game…

…we should probably preview Georgia Tech.

beesThis is Georgia Tech at 11:59 EDT today.

Let’s get this out of the way. Both offenses are probably going to lose the battle at the line of scrimmage. Georgia Tech’s offensive line is too small compared to Carolina’s DTs, and the Heels O-line is so banged up that Shaun Draughn will have Derrick Morgan nightmares tonight. Morgan would probably have found his way into the backfield no matter what, but you get my point.

It’s not going to be pretty unless either team can develop the passing game. Tech, of course, will be focusing on this for most of the game after being torched by Kyle Parker and Jacory Harris in their last two matchups.  UNC clearly has the air advantage, especially after Erik Highsmith has been an absolute revelation at wide receiver. Coming into Spring practice, he the #6 WR option at best; now he’s on pace to put up Hakeem Nicks numbers. When Georgia Tech has the ball, if Josh Nesbitt isn’t throwing it to Dermaryius Thomas, he’s not throwing it. I’m not kidding; the rest of the team has caught exactly three passes from him all season.

Not all hope is lost for the offensive lines. Both lines know their weaknesses, and intend to diminish them somewhat. UNC is going to use a lot of play action and waggle passes, and while the Tech line is smaller than others, they are more nimble by the nature of the offense Tech runs. How well they are able to hold their ground at the point of attack will be the difference in this game.

And therein lies Tech’s biggest problem. The point of the option offense is to have as many points of attack available as possible, so that the defense has to account for them all and eventually a seam opens up. UNC has some of the fastest linebackers in the country in Bruce Carter, Zach Brown and LORD QUANTAVIUS, and they’ll have been coached to stay at home no matter what.

I don’t have much confidence in UNC’s offense today. Paul Johnson is really going to have his team fired up, and playing well on the road is always tough. I think, however, that the Heels defense will give the offense just enough room for error to leave Atlanta with the victory.

beesonfireThis is Georgia Tech at 3:15 EDT today.

Prediction: UNC 17, Georgia Tech 12.

For more about the Yellow Jackets, check out the excellent Tech blog From The Rumble Seat.

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