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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.