UNC vs. Rutgers Live Blog

Big game for the Tar Heels tonight in Piscataway.

7:50 pm: Okay, the Cover It Live software isn’t cooperating, so we’re doing the live blog the old-fashioned way for now.

7:51 pm: Greg Little ran for 4 yards on 2nd and 10, but the pass on third was incomplete, as Brooks Foster couldn’t stay in bounds.

7:53 pm: Meanwhile, Rutgers has run three pass plays and is already inside the UNC 35.

Deunta Williams went for the run blitz, but went too far outside, and Kordell Young gets a big gain and a first down.

7:54 pm: OOHHHHHHH…Trimane Goddard should have picked the ball off.

7:56 pm: After a penalty, UNC stops a 2nd and 15 run to force 3rd and 12 from the UNC 28.

A receiver was left wide open in the flat, but he’s tackled just short of the first down.

7:57 pm: Rutgers nails the field goal. 3-0, Scarlet Knights five minutes into the game.

7:59 pm: For me, the jury is still out on the Navy pants. Regardless, this is certainly a harbinger of navy jerseys later in the season.

8:01 pm: Tate with another good return to the UNC 33.

8:02 pm: Uh-oh. Anthony Elzy is down.

8:03 pm: Elzy apparently landed on his head. By the looks of it his injury could be serious.

8:06 pm: What a catch by Tate. A very effective rollout play by Yates and the offensive line.

8:07 pm: Even the prospect of a Tate end-around helps give Greg Little a few extra yards.

8:09 pm: A safety blitz stuffs Little at the line of scrimmage to force 4th down. Carolina looks like they’re going to go fo it on 4th and 3.

8:12 pm: Tate drops it! He dropped it! Granted it was a bit behind him, but Brandon absolutely must make that play.

8:13 pm: Rutgers takes the momentum immediately, as Kenny Britt takes the first down pass across midfield.

8:15 pm: I hope Tiquan Underwood is okay. No one wants to see a player get injured. Hopefully, he just had the wind knocked out of him and will be back in this game.

Having said that…WHOOOOOOOOOOOO! I haven’t seen UNC make a decleater like that in years.

8:17 pm: Underwood will be okay. He walks off the field under his own power.

8:18 pm: Teel throws another pass too high, and Rutgers is forced to punt.

8:19 pm: Elzy’s back in the game, and he has to fight to get back to the line of scrimmage.

8:20 pm: Nicks very nearly drops the ball, but he makes the catch to set up 3rd and 2.

Little busts his way up the middle for a first down.

8:21 pm: Has ESPN reminded you of UNC’s drought in games outside of North Carolina?

8:22 pm: Rutgers needs four defenders to bring down Brooks Foster.

8:23 pm: Another first down run up the middle by Little.

8:24 pm: Yates is sacked on 3rd down. Too bad, the drive started with a lot of promise. If nothing else, the Heels ate up a lot of clock on that drive and gave their defense a rest.

8:26 pm: That first quarter went fast. Rutgers leads, 3-0, but no one has taken control of the game as of yet.

8:31pm: E.J. Wilson forces Teel to throw the ball away.

INTERCEPTION! Charles Brown (#12) reads the play and jumps in front of the ball up the middle. What a play.

8:32 pm: Little tries the outside, but he goes nowhere.

Yates scrambles for a decent gain on second down.

8:34 pm: Yates reeeallly overthorws Tate, but UNC is in field goal range.

Wooten hits the field goal right down the middle. The game is tied, 3-3.

8:36 pm: Both Yates and Little have had their moments in this game, but they’ll need to be a little more consistent for the offense to be effective later in the game.

8:37 pm: It’s the birthplce of college football versus the birthplace of the forward pass!

8:39 pm: more big hits by the UNC defense. That’s the physicality they were missing against McNeese State.

8:40 pm: QUANTAVIUS THE MAGNIFICENT stops Underwood short of the first down. Smart defensive position on the part of the Heels.

8:42 pm: UNC will get the ball at the 48 yard line.

Nicks snatches thae catch from the waiting arms of two Rutgers defenders.

8:43 pm: Elzy takes the pass in the flat and takes it to the red zone.

UNC is showing a lot more physicality on both sides of the ball.

8:45 pm: TOUCHDOWN CAROLINA!!! UNC passes on 3rd and short, and Nicks is left all alone in the back right corner of the endzone. UNC takes the 10-3 lead.

8:50 pm: Greg Little has 11 carries for 34 yards thus far in the game.

8:51 pm: Jabu Lovelace comes in as a change of pace, and he gets a first down.

Note to Everett Withers: Never assign Bruce Carter to cover Tiquan Underwood.

8:53 pm: Teel looks completely different after spending a few plays on the sidelines.

8:55 pm: Carolina has converted four of eight third downs. Rutgers has yet to convert on third downs. That’s why Rutgers has to settle for another field goal, and why UNC still leads, 10-6.

8:59 pm: TTTOOOOOOOOOOOOOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCHHHHHHHHHHH- DOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!

9:00 pm: On the first play of the drive, Yates fires a perfect deep ball to Tate, and he outruns the secondary for the 69 yard score. 17-6, UNC on the huge play.

9:02 pm: The Heels can wear as much Navy as they damn well please if they keep playing like this.

9:06 pm: What a hit by Robert Quinn on the draw play.

9:07 pm: UNC left wayyy too big a hole in their zone coverage on that play, a Britt goes inside the 40.

9:08 pm: INTERCEPTION! Teel makes a poor throw, but Burney makes a big play to leap for the interception.

9:10 pm: Does anyone remember the last time UNC led by double digits at halftime outside of the state? Does anyone remember?

9:14 pm: It’s officially halftime, and UNC has a 17-6 lead. The first half could not have gone much better for the Tar Heels. T.J. Yates has two passing touchdowns already, and Greg LIttle, while not having had spectacular numbers, has done enough to keep the defense honest.

On defense, there’s the obvious problem of Teel exploiting holes in the zone. But the front seven has been physical for most of the first half, and the secondary has taken full advantage of Teel’s mistakes.

Overall, we also have to deal with the possibility that Rutgers just isn’t playing very well, and could make vast improvements in the second half.

9:37 pm: The second half is about to begin.

9:38 pm: A horrible miscommunication on the part of Rutgers, and Tiquan UNderwood is forced to field the ball and go out of bounds at the 2 yard line.

9:40 pm: UNC is putting the pressure on Teel.

9:41 pm: Three and out.

9:42 pm: Worong camera, dude.

Anyway, Carolina gets the ball in Rugers territory.

9:44 pm: Yates really, really wanted that first down.

9:45 pm: That’s what Greg Little can do. He gets good blocking on the outside, and bursts for a 26 yard gain. Carolina is now in the red zone.

9:48 pm: TOUCHDOWN CAROLINA!!!

They run the end-around to Tate, and it works to perfection. UNC now has a 24-6 lead, and I doubt that Heels fans could have asked for a better start to the second half.

9:51 pm: Ugh. Jay Wooten kicks the kickoff out of bounds.

9:53 pm: If one player is going to get Rutgers’ running game going, it’s probably going to be Jourdan Brooks.

9:54 pm: YYEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAaHHHHHHHHHHHH!!! Bruce Carter intercepts the ball on the tip, and his defense does its best job of blocking, and he waltzes into the endzone uncontested. 31-6, UNC in a game that has caught me completely by surprise.

9:59 pm: UNC has yet to turn the ball over. Conversely, Rutgers has turned the ball over three times.

10:01 pm: Rutgers is 0 for 7 on third down. Part of that is sure tackling by UNC, but it’s also because Rutgers keeps throwing short of the marker and fails to get yardage after the catch.

10:03 pm: The Tar Heels are firmly planting their foot on Rutgers’ perverbial throat.

10:04 pm: Curiously, I have yet to see Shaun Draughn in this game.

It’s the middle of the third quarter, but Rutgers fans are already filing out of the satdium.

10:06 pm: TOUCHDOWN CAROLINA. Hakeem Nicks is wide open in the end zone again, UNC leads 38-6, and this game is pretty much over.

10:07 pm: At this point, I don’t know how to react to such an unexpected expect. Wait, yes I do.

WHHHHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

10:12 pm: In all honesty, I’m still not completely comforatble with the zone defense that Carolina is running. I fear that a better-performing offense might be able to tear it apart.

10:13 pm: But hey they’ve performed well so far, especially on third down.

10:18 pm: This is the first time UNC has punted in the second half. At this point, it’s counting down the minutes until Carolina’s victory is official.

10:27 pm: As you can probably tell from the distance between updates, UNC is pretty much in control of this game. The Heels lead, 38-6 after three quarters.

10:29 pm: TOUCHDOWN RUTGERS. An imprressive drive by the Scarlet Knights ends with Brock making a catch open in the middle of the end zone. The two point conversion fails, and the score is now 38-12, UNC.

10:37 pm: Draugh’s at RB now, as UNC is driving into the red zone again.

10:41 pm: Senor Craig James is a supreme lord of waffling.

10:43 pm: Jay Wooten hits a short field goal. 41-12, UNC. Simply unbelievable.

10:52 pm: Jabu Lovelace is in as permanent QB for Rutgers.

10:54 pm: QUANTAVIUS THE MAGNIFICENT strikes again, intercepting Jabu Lovelace. Quite possibly, Quantavius Sturdivant and Jabu Lovelace might be the best two names involved in a a single play this season.

10:56 pm: Mike Paulus is in for the Heels.

11:05 pm: This game mercifully comes to and end, UNC wins, 44-12. all things considered, It’s a huge win for UNC at this point in their development.

Getting A Read on Rutgers

The lull after the McNeese State game is finally over. It’s officially Rutgers Week.

Despite what the loss to Fresno State may indicate, the Scarlet Knights are a dangerous opponent. They retain a third year starting quarterback in Mike Teel, and they have two of the Big East’s best receivers in Tiquan Underwood and Kenny Britt. However, the shoes of Ray Rice might be two big to fill. Kordell Young may have had 94 yards and a touchdown against Fresno State, but he averaged 3.6 yards per carry, and he got absolutely no help from other tailbacks. Mike Teel obviously felt the pain, throwing two interceptions, zero touchdowns, and completing only 51.4 percent of his passes.

Of bigger concern may be the defense. While the secondary was effective against Fresno State’s passing game (Marlon Moore in particular), they let a few big plays past them at key moments in the second half. However, their biggest weakness was against the run. Ryan Matthews had 163 yards rushing, 20 yards receiving, and 3 touchdowns. In 2007 terms, that places Rutgers’ run defense with the likes of Nevada and San Jose State.

UNC’s performance against McNeese State, while a victory, was not any more impressive. Both lines seemed to be outplayed by the Cowboys, and the Tar Heels needed both a second half wake-up call and a record-setting performance from Brandon Tate to get the win. The Tar Heels share similar offensive problems with Rutgers. If Rutgers defends the pass as well as they did against Fresno State, another subpar rushing performance may be too much for Carolina to overcome.

Still, only so much can be interpreted from one game. The Scarlet Knights are a dangerous team until proven otherwise, and they should put up more than a good fight on Thursday night. After the disappointment against McNeese State, they should expect the same from the Heels.

Rutgers Sites to Read

Scarlet Knights Football

State of Rutgers

Scarlet R Nation

Rutgers Blogs

Rutgers Blog on NJ.com

Bleed Scarlet

Beat Visitor

So, What Did We Learn From McNeese State?

In all honesty, not much. It was an ugly win against an FCS opponent. But we’re 1-0, and that’s what matters. So slowly step away from the panic button, if you would be so kind.

Here’s a quick look at what happened on Saturday.

On Offense:

  • John Shoop most likely showed us only the bare bones of the offensive playbook needed to win on Saturday. Nerve wracking, but ultimately the smart move.
  • Butch Davis said that he was committed to running the football to a fault. In response, McNeese State consistently put 8 or 9 guys in the box, especially on first down. Greg Little certainly didn’t look all that impressive, but he should improve over the season. Meanwhile, Shaun Draughn has established himself as the #2 back, making the move from safety look very smart.
  • T.J. Yates’s shoulder is completely healthy, and nothing about his performance is more important than that. Yates played well at times, but still made some of the mistakes he would make in his freshman year. It’s unclear how much of his play was affected positively or negatively by McNeese State’s defense, but he’ll need to improve on his 57.7 % completion rate.
  • Of greatest concern is the offensive line. They allowed Yates to be sacked twice, and only twice did the backs have a run of 10 yards or more. Most importantly, they never really seemed to control the line of scrimmage. Against most teams, that raises concerns. Against an FCS team, it sets off alarm bells.
  • There is nothing that can be said about Brandon Tate that has not already been said. He was simply outstanding.

On Defense:

  • The defense was on their heels against the spread option the entire night. Granted, it was the first time this defense has faced a true spread option offense, but the job of the defense is to act as the chaos to the order of the offense, and UNC never truly disrupted McNeese State’s rhythm.
  • The defensive line was not as effective as most expected. Not only was Derrick Forroux not sacked, but he was never truly pressured at any point in the game. On the bright side, E.J. Wilson did an excellent job of disrupting his side of the line, recording eight total tackles and three of UNC’s seven tackles for loss. Greg Elleby contributed four tackles, a forced fumble, and a TFL as well.
  • Not much was expected of the linebacking corps, but they kept themselves quite busy the entire game, with three of the team’s four leading tacklers. Quan Sturdivant QUANTAVIUS THE MAGNIFICENT led the team with eleven tackles, followed by Mark Paschal with nine tackles and Bruce Carter with eight. Paschal also forced a fumble. Chase Rice contributed with two tackles off the bench. None of these players were much of a factor behind the line of scrimmage, but they did a solid job overall.
  • The secondary had its ups and downs. Carolina didn’t have much of an answer for McNeese State’s version of Tate, Quentin Lawrence. The Carencro, LA junior had 73 yards receiving and a punt return for a touchdown. As for UNC’s defense, Kendric Burney had a solid game with five tackles (all in the open field), including one tackle for loss. Jordan Hemby had two tackles (one for loss) in his first start at cornerback, but he struggled at times, give up McNeese State’s only passing touchdown. Charles Brown did not play due to nagging injuries. The Heels will likely need his presence for when they Rutgers and their tough receiving corps. Trimane Goddard had the team’s only interception, and Deunta WIlliams contributed with five tackles, albeit only one solo tackle.

Special Teams:

  • Casey Barth got the nod for starting kicker, but missing his only field goal attempt opens the door for Jay wooten once again.
  • Marvin Austin’s block of an extra point, obviously, helped swing momentum back in UNC’s favor when the Heels needed it most.

As unimpressive a game by the Tar Heels as it was, the team isn’t completely to blame. The rain delay obviously killed momentum and helped to level the playing field, and the coaching staff did not want to reveal too much to future opponents such as Rutgers. Not to mention the fact that McNeese State is one of the toughest FCS teams that Carolina could have scheduled, not only for their quality ranking, players, and spread offense, but for their stunning victory over God in 2007. As disappointing as an eight point margin against an FCS opponent appears at first glance, we started the season 1-0, and this game should act as a wake-up call for this team team between now and their next game against Rutgers.

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