Not so sweet Homecoming: UNC vs. Ga. Tech

Today: The North Carolina Tar Heels (1-8, 0-5 ACC) host the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (7-2, 5-1).

Preview: It looks like Georgia Tech is going to run away with the ACC Coastal Division this year, as both Virginia Tech and Miami have faltered. Who would have thought that the ACC championship this year could be Georgia Tech vs. Wake Forest?

Georgia Tech might have the best defense in the ACC. Remember the Notre Dame offense that lit us up last week? GT held them to a season low 14 points on September 2 and almost pulled out the upset. This is due in no small part to the defensive schemes of defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta, who was the defensive coordinator at UNC in 2001, a year in the Heels ranked 15th in the nation in total defense. Maybe it was Tenuta, maybe it was the NFL-caliber talent we had that year (Julius Peppers, Ryan Sims, David Thornton, Dexter Reid, Michael Waddell, and whatever happened to Joey Evans?), but our defense hasn’t been the same since. Joe Dailey, who finally looked good against Notre Dame (200+ yards, 3 TD, 0 INT), will have his hands full. RB Ronnie McGill also needs to be effective if the Heels want to have a chance.

On the offensive side of the ball, Georgia Tech has perhaps the ACC’s best athlete in WR Calvin Johnson. At 6-5 and 235 lbs. he is the ultimate mismatch for the defense; he overpowers small cornerbacks and outruns everyone else. I’m shocked that 4-year starting QB Reggie Ball hasn’t gotten him the ball more. Our defense hasn’t able to stop anyone this year, and with our defensive injuries I doubt today will be any different.

The Yellow Jackets have plenty of motivation, as they have a chance to clinch the Coastal Division with a win. They won’t let this one slip away.

12:30 pm: Sorry I’m a little late. You don’t know the meaning of “bad hair day” until you’ve tried combing 20-inch long, curly, dry, tangled hair and turning it into something manageable. Fortunately, the game has been pretty uneventful so far; both teams have exchanged two punts. Wait, UNC has actually forced two punts?!? Wow….

12: 35 pm: Just saw a truck driving down Franklin Street that said “Inland Seafood”. When I think of Seafood, I think of a town over 100 miles from the sea.

Georgia Tech is driving the ball well now, but they’ve yet to connect with Calvin Johnson.

12:40 pm: The first quarter ends, still 0-0. Ga. Tech went for it on 4th and short late in the quarter, and of all things, UNC goes offsides! There’s no excuse for this.

12:50 pm: Touchdown, GT. On third and goal, RB Tashard Choice waltzes into the end zone. 7-0, GT.

I just saw this graphic: GT scored on a 20-play, 83 yard drive that lasted 10 and a half minutes. That is an old school drive if I ever saw one (almost literally 3 yards and a cloud of dust.

12:55 pm: Commercial alert. ESPN: College Football Lives Here. UNC: College Football has not been paying the rent lately.

1:05 pm: UNC seems to be running the ball well today. Joe Dailey wildly overthrows a pass downfield, and then Brooks foster drops a pass on 3rd down. Now there’s the UNC I know.

1:10 pm: Fumble! GT fumbles the ball at their own 30, and UNC recovers! WHOOOOOOO!!! The first and likely the last time I will say this: we might actually have a chance in this game.
COACH UPDATE: The rumors continue to spread about Butch Davis, but it looks like he’s our man. On another coach, JoePa isn’t coaching this week by doctor’s orders. As a condolence to him, Penn State students wrapped tape around the knee of his bronze statue outside Beaver Stadium. You gotta love JoePa.

1:15 pm: Vintage Joe Dailey. McGill runs to the 5 yard line after the fumble, followed by two failed played plays, and then on 3rd down Dailey lofts the ball in the end zone directly into the hands of a GT defender. This is the Joe Dailey I’ve come to know and love. Thank goodness we’re getting Mike Paulus next year.

1:20 pm: Nothing becomes of the turnover; GT still can’t get it to Calvin Johnson. UNC is driving the ball well thanks in no small part to a screen pass to McGill that completely fooled the defense.

1:25 pm: UNC drives into the red zone, and the vintage Joe Dailey strikes again with an interception in the endzone to end the half. We still have a chance in this game, GT is only up 7-0 at the half. Frankly, considering our play, I’m shocked. I will now pass the dissatisfying flavor of the first half with cheese steak.

UPSET WATCH: Georgia 10, #5 Auburn 0. Georgia’s been playing great defense, giving Auburn QB Brian Cox fits all day.

1:50 pm: COACH UPDATE: It doesn’t matter what the score is, John Bunting has exactly the same face. Can we check and make sure that Chuck Amato isn’t a woman? He has a hig-pitched voice, walks around around the sideline a bit “sassy” and looks like he a use a bra.

Why do I couple these coaches together? because in spite of their struggles, I want to see them continue coaching if for nothing more than the comedy.

1:55 pm: Commercial alert: LeBron.

UPSET WATCH: Georgia 30, Auburn 7. And it’s only halftime!

I just saw a GT player with dreadlocks. It’s hard to wear a big hairdo underneath a helmet because it takes up so much space. I remember playing rec football as a kid and having to wear a buzzcut just so my helmet could fit. I wore that haircut for at least 4 years after I stopped playing football. Maybe you don’t find this interesting, but it’s now in your brainspace anyway.

2 :00 pm: Now GT throws an interception. Linebacker Chase Rice makes a sweet play on the sidelines to get the pick.

2:05 pm: And then UNC punts the ball. The offense has squandered all the opportunities the defense has given them. It must be frustrating.

It was exciting to see Rutgers keep its Cinderella story alive by beating Louisville 28-25 on Thursday night. Dad was rooting for them because he’s from Jersey. My sister was rooting for them as thanks for the small role they played in UNC getting a new coach. I was rooting for them to throw yet another wrench into the BCS system.

2:10 pm: Our defense holds again. Eventually our offense has to take advantage of this, right? Right? RIGHT?!?

Something you might not know: Georgia Tech is a 4-time football national champion (1917, 1928, 1952, 1990).

2:15 pm: Commercial alert: There’s only one place to be on Gameday.

2:18 pm: UNC continues to shoot themselves in the foot. After UNC forces another 3-and out, they rough the punter, allowing GT to keep the ball. You simply can’t make mistakes like this and expect to win. Georgia Tech has not helped its cause much, either.

2:25 pm: The third quarter ends. If you had told me the UNC offense was going to stink and still have only a 7-0 deficit, I would have confiscated your preservative-laden Nutrisystem food for the sake of your sanity.

2:30 pm: Why isn’t UNC running the ball? Ronnie McGill is the offense’s biggest asset and yet UNC has only 56 yards rushing. It was the same thing with Willie Parker; now he’s a 1,000 yard running back for the Steelers. Have I mentioned how excited I am that we’re getting a new coach in 2007?

Interesting sidenote about that: College Gameday this morning mentioned the UNC coaching position, and Kirk Herbsreit said that this program has a lot of potential; he even suggested that our football program could become as good as our basketball program. This is very, very exciting, but it continues to remind me that Bunting, as good a person as he is, has underachieved.

2:40 pm: Irrelevant sidenote: This is the third time that I have blogged a game from Shorty’s on West Franklin Street. The bartender recognizes me now.

This game has very sloppy. Neither team has played well or taken advantage of opportunities. It has been a lot more fun to blog than it has been to watch. Fortunately, It’s 77 degrees and sunny today, in mid-November. I love Chapel Hill.

2:45 pm: UNC is driving the ball well, but I’ve said that before. I have no idea how to interpret this.

Commercial alert: Peyton Manning’s fake mustache. You have to love viral video.

UPSET WATCH: Georgia 30, #5 Auburn 15.

2:50 pm: Please explain this: UNC is on the GT 45, it’s fourth down, they’re down 7-0, there’s 3:28 to play in the 4th quarter, and they punt? Considering the new ready to play rule (which I hate) that’s basically giving up. Yeah, we got Butch Davis…got a new coach, it’s my birthday, fixed the offense, new recruits, Go Tar Heels, got a new coach, it’s my birthday…

3:05 pm: UNC gets the ball back, but with only 1 min left anf 80 yards to go. Jesse Holley drops a pass on a key second down, which has been a familiar sight the past two years.

UPSET WATCH: Georgia 37, Auburn 15, 4th quarter. Any hope Auburn still had of going to the title game is about to end.

3:10 pm: UNC turns it over on downs, the game is over. GT 7, UNC 0. Excuse me while I vent my frustration on the dartboard.

3:30 pm: UPSET WATCH: Final: Georgia 37, Auburn 15.

UPSET WATCH #2: Arizona 24, #8 Cal 20.
Final Comments: Neither team really reached out to win this team. As the game went final several questions went through my mind:

  • Where was this defense before today?
  • Where was the offense we saw against Notre Dame?
  • If UNC doesn’t go offside in the 1st quarter drive and Joe Dailey throws it away instead of lobbing up an INT in the end zone, the final score is UNC 3, GT 0.
  • Who will Georgia Tech face in the ACC Title game?
  • Which is more surreal-the unsatisfying result of this game, or the fact that these people who just came to Shorty’s after spending the afternoon playing rugby instead of watching the game are now playing ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” on the Jukebox and drinking Bud Light by the gallon?

These are the questions that no one could possibly answer. Congratulations, Georgia Tech on winning the ACC Coastal Division in 2006. Now scram.

Next Week: Bunting’s last home game is the 18th against NC State at Noon. At 3:30 pm #1 Ohio State will play #2 Michigan. For the first time ever, I will live blog two games in the same day back-to-back!