Blogging a Football Game-UNC vs. Wake Forest

(Note: for the next few weeks, I’m going to be writing as a sportswriter for the Daily Tar Heel. Today I’m going to blog the game between UNC and Wake Forest from a bar in West Franklin Street. For my Professor Brian Carroll, this is the Week 11 Assignment.)

Okay, I think I owe you an explanation. You must be thinking, Why isn’t he blogging this from the game? I have several reasons:

  • It’s a HUGE hassle trying to get a computer into Kenan Stadium, especially since I am technically not a member of the press. Hassles include getting a computer into the game (which I can’t), accessing the Internet (which I can’t), and accessing power (I can’t plug it in anywhere, and my battery is toast).
  • A ticket costs $40. I just looked into my pocket and found exactly $24.56.
  • If the game is going to go the way I think it’s going to go, I’m going to need a drink. (Now would be a good time to let you know that I am 19 years old).

So there you have it. Today I’m reporting from Shorty’s Bar and Grill on West Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC. I would have reported from the Carolina Brewery, but they have neither wireless Internet nor ESPNU, on which today’s game will be shown.

Interesting subplots: John Bunting’s firing, our QB issues, and Wake Forest’s surprising season.
3:35 pm. The game has just started (on ESPNU). Tar Heels get the ball first.

3:45 pm. Tar Heel offense quickly sputters. They line for the punt…and its blocked! Wake recovers and returns the ball for a touchdown. It isn’t looking good. I am not the least bit surprised; mistakes like this have been characteristic of this season (and really, Coach Bunting’s tenure, but that’s another entry).

3:50 pm. Heels get the ball back, and are showing signs of life on offense. Quarterback Joe Dailey seems to be getting a rhythm.

3:55 pm. Touchdown! on 3rd and goal from the 1, instead of running it in UNC uses the play action, Dailey runs to the right and throws to a defensive lineman (Andre Barbour) in the end zone. It’s now tied, 7-7.

4:10 pm. The quarter ended without much else happening. Wake is moving the ball nicely; I don’t whether that means their offense is good or our defense is bad. Wake has been the story of the ACC this year. They’re 6-1 and would probably be 7-0 if not for a few 4th quarter mistakes that Clemson took advantage of. It’s especially remarkable because Wake was predicted to finish last in the ACC Atlantic Division and has played nearly its entire season without starting Quarterback Ben Mauk or starting Running Back Micah Andrews. After that, almost everyone else in the ACC has underachieved this season. The commissioner of the Big East and its three undefeated teams (Louisville, West Virginia and Rutgers) must be laughing right now.

Interesting side note: Wake Forest actually began as a university in 1953 in its namesake town of Wake Forest, NC, but moved to Winston-Salem to expand. The old campus is now occupied by the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. I know this because when I went to Louisburg College from 1999 to 2001, I would commute to Louisburg (in Franklin County, NC) from Chapel Hill, and I would pass by the Seminary off NC Route 98 every day. I should note that I was 12 at the time and thus had to be driven back and forth by my parents. Perhaps this information is unimportant to you, but now your brain is stuck with it.
4:15 pm. The Deacons run a reverse and the UNC defense was completely fooled. Touchdown Wake, it’s now 14-7.

4:20 pm. Out goes Joe Dailey, in comes Cam Sexton. He has a completion percentage of 41% and twice as many interceptions (8) as touchdowns (4) this season. With the exception of the Furman game, Carolina has scored 8.8 points per game with Cam at QB. Something tells me this isn’t going to end well.

4:25 pm. I have to give credit to the folks at ESPNU. They only went to one commercial break in the entire first quarter. On an attendance note, I just took a look into the stands; at the beginning of the game the stands were practically empty; now the stadium has filled up. I have no idea what to make of this, but ‘fair weather crowd’ comes to mind.

The Heels just went three and out. I could have seen this coming a mile away.

4:35 pm. I stand corrected. Cam and Ronnie McGill led the Heels to another score to tie the game 14-14, AND ESPNU is showing ads galore.

4:40 pm. An ambulance just drove through West Franklin Street, sirens ringing. Just thought you should know.

4:45 pm. Checking the other TVs in here, Ohio State is leading Minnesota 17-0, Florida is leading Georgia 14-0, Miami leads Georgia Tech 13-10, and Oklahoma State just scored a touchdown but still trails Nebraska 16-13.

4:50 pm. Out with Cam, in with Joe Dailey. Huh? This is either strategy or someone not paying attention to the game. A certain someone who won’t be here in 2007. I don’t know what to think.

4:55 pm. Well, we knew this was coming eventually. Dailey throws an interception on 3rd and long. Wake runs out the clock to end the first half. Wake 14, UNC 14.

5:20 pm. Just got back from stuffing my face with a cheeseburger. Ronnie McGill rushed 22 times for 100 yards and a touchdown in the first half. Where was this all season? In other games, USC is down 16-7 at halftime to Oregon State (upset watch), and Nebraska now leads 23-20 versus Oklahoma State.

5:25 pm. The second half has started. Wake gets the ball first; they get a few good runs but are forced to punt.

Interesting side note: One of the commentators at the ESPNU studio at halftime complimented offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti‘s playcalling. Before today, UNC has scored more than 10 points against Division 1A opponents exactly once. You can just taste the irony, and the flavor is E.coli infested spinach.

CORRECTION: UNC scored 20 points against USF on October 14th. But you get my point.
5:30 pm. Joe Dailey stays in the game, right after he threw an interception; this comes not long after they pulled him for Cam after Dailey threw a touchdown pass. Way to go, Frank!

5:35 pm. Joe throws a deep pass downfield, caught by Brooks Foster for a 40 yard gain. Wake Forest challenges the call (it looks like the catch might have been broken up), but the call stands. The play leads to a field goal, and UNC leads 17-14, the first lead for UNC against a Division 1A opponent this season. Have I mentioned how happy I am that we’re going to get a new coach in 2007?


5:45 pm: About that last statement: there are few, if any, better people in college football than John Bunting. I would like to borrow perhaps the most backhanded complement I’ve ever heard, courtesy of the Athletic Director of Notre Dame describing the tenure of their former head coach, Tyrone Willingham: “From Sunday to Friday, he’s the best coach in college football.”

CORRECTION (10/29): I found the actual quote in an ESPN article: “From Sunday to Friday he exceeded all expectiations, in every way. But on Saturday, we struggled.” The one you saw above was a paraphase, and I should have said so.

5:50 pm: I just saw the following ad: “Are you tired of feeling fat? Has your sex life slowed down or even come to a halt? Hi, I’m Dan Marino, and I lost 22 pounds on Nutrisystem for Men.” Completely Bizzare. Four things about that ad:

  1. Dan’s before picture and his after picture don’t look much different.
  2. During the ad I saw Dan bite into perhaps the wimpiest burger ever. The roach whom I’m sure is under my fridge would consider that an appetizer.
  3. Nutrisystem actually sends you their meals by mail, without refrigeration. Do you have any idea how many preservatives are needed for that kind of transport?
  4. Nutrisystem is actually a publically owned company in the American stock market. I’d sell it now if I were you. Seriously, stop reading this, go to your online broker and sell Nutrisystem NOW!…I don’t care if the stock market’s closed! Now means NAAAOOOOWWWWWWH!!!

CORRECTION (10/29): Have you seen Dan’s before and after photos on the Nutrisystem website? It looks like they photoshopped Abraham Lincoln’s head onto Dan’s body!

Also, I looked at Nutrisystem’s stock, and it might actually be worth buying. It’s Price-to-Earnings ratio is slightly high, but it has strong support from both Wall St. analysts and institutional investors, it has a high 1 year target estimate, and its competition is sparse. Perhaps you should keep an eye on it.

5:55 pm. Wake Forest holds the ball for the rest of the 3rd quarter. UNC 17, Wake 14. I might actually cover a win! I don’t know how to describe this.

6:00 pm. Wake kicks a field goal to tie it, 17-17.

6:10 pm. Why am I not surprised by the following course of events? UNC completely abandons the run, the tight end catches a pass and fumbles, Wake recovers, they throw a 39-yard pass for the touchdown on the very next play, the Wake constituency in Kenan Stadium cheers their lungs out, Tar heel fans fall silent, it’s 24-17 Wake, and guess what ad ESPNU shows? “Hi, I’m Dan Marino and I lost 22 pounds on Nutrisystem…”

6:15 pm. Cam is in the game. When I think of a quarterback who can get us back into this game, I think of a struggling Freshman QB. I’m convinced Bobby Bowden is controlling John Bunting’s mind using voodoo headphones after we beat FSU 41-9 in 2001. That is the only possible explanation for everything that’s happened since.

6:20 pm. Upset Watch: Oregon State 33, USC 17. UNC gets into a quick 3-and out. Then I see the only ad wierder than the Nutrisystem one, courtesy of GEICO and Mini Me: “Yeah, I got the check. Got my car fixed, it’s my birthday, fixed my bumper, new taillights, go GEICO, its my birthday…”. This is the kind of subplotting and free association you just couldn’t be reading if I were in the stadium.

6 :30 pm. Less than 4 minutes to go, and Joe Dailey’s back on offense. I can’t stand the ready to play rule in college, which means the clock runs on first down after a change in possession. It robs college football of valuable and exciting football.

6:35 pm. Upset Watch: Oregon St. 33, USC 25. UNC converts on 4th down, but time is running out. If not for the blocked punt and the fumble, it’s 17-10, UNC. That’s Coach Bunting’s specialty: snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. I can think of at least ten different games lost precisely this way.

6:40 pm. Once again, I’ve spoken too soon: UNC converts on fourth down AGAIN! 55 seconds left, 24-17..and Dailey throws a bomb caught by Hakeem Nicks and taken to the 3 yard line!…

…And then it all comes crashing down. Joe Dailey slips on first down, on second down he spikes the ball, and on third down Wake picks it off in the end zone. Game over, 24-17 Wake. This game was lost in the worst way. The only thing that could make it worse? “Hi, I’m Mini Me and I lost 22 pounds on Nutrisystem.” Did I mention how happy I am that we’re getting a new coach in 2007?

6:45 pm. That ambulance just went racing down West Franklin Street again. Just thought you should know.

7:10 pm. Upset Watch: This game just went final: Oregon State 33, #3 USC 31. Another Top 5 team goes down. USC came back from 20 points down, but missed the two-point conversion to tie the game.

Final Comments: I have to give credit where credit is due. Wake is a good football team, and UNC played much better that I had expected them to. This game came down to opportunities. Wake took full advantage of the opportunities that were given to them, and UNC did not. UNC inexplicably abandoned the run in the second half; after Ronnie McGill ran for 100 yards in the first half, he ran for 17 yards in the second half, proving the old adage that it doesn’t matter how you start; it’s how you finish. My mom has said from the beginning of Bunting’s career that he was a good person but a bad coach. I had spent 2002 until August 2006 arguing with her about this, defending him. But in the 2006 season his team took away my ability to defend him.

Tune for my next post, as I give my personal eulogy of John Bunting’s career at UNC, and I begin speculating who might replace him, from the “He might actually be worse” to the “realistic” to the “longshot” to the “No Chance in Hell”.

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