OMG We’re 5-2 the Season Is Ruined AHHHHHH

In the last 48 hours, UNC fans have, er, what’s a delicate way to put this…LOST THEIR FREAKING MINDS over UNC’s loss to Virginia on Saturday. Most on the message have been asking a lot of questions, all circling around the same theme: WHO’S TO BLAME?!?

Most of the blame has been put on the coaches. Everett Withers for the prevent defense that allowed the tying touchdown, John Shoop for not putting the game away when he had the chance and Butch Davis for kneeling with 47 seconds to play in a tie game.

Some of this criticism is justified. The type of offense that teams tend to run in a 2-minute drill has usually been the type that UNC’s defense has been weakest in defending, dating all the way back to the Rutgers game. It strikes me as odd, to say the least, that our top wide receiver Hakeem Nicks only touched the ball once in the first half. And it’s particularly baffling to kneel when UNC did given that, just last week, UNC was able to gain 46 yards in 30 seconds against Notre Dame in a very similar situation to end the first half. Adding to the unrest is that the fans, myself included, so desperately wanted to win THIS game, to shed the demons of Charlottesville in the George Welsh era. (Let it be known that before Welsh, UVa football was flat-out bad. One winning season in the previous 29 years bad. Since 1983, when the streak started, the Cavs have had 22 winning seasons out of 25. This, more than anything else, is why we haven’t won at UVa in 14 tries.)

But what’s so frustrating about this game is also one of the biggest positives that fans should take away from it: the Heels played, to put it kindly, average football yet were still in control of this game for 58 minutes. We now have a true running game with the combination of Shaun Draughn and Ryan Houston. The goal for the defense coming into this game was to contain the running game, and they did just that. And on Saturday we were able to maintain control for most of the game, even though we never led by more that 7 points.

I still doubt that our receiving corps is an issue. We still have two great, experienced receivers in Hakeem Nicks and Brooks Foster. The most obvious difference on offense without Brandon Tate is that, coupled with the injury to T.J. Yates, the Heels no longer have the deep passing threat they had earlier in the year. However, our new found running game should give the ability to run playfakes and get receivers more open downfield, so the margin for error is greater if John Shoop were inclined to make Cam throw deep.

One type of offensive play that was strangely absent was the one-step drop throw to Nicks that has been so effective for the last season and a half. I understand if the Heels tried to give the ball to Nicks in those situations, and VIrginia were to anticipate and stop the play. However, thaty never seemed to try the play with Nicks. The few times they ran the play, it would often be to Cooter Arnold or Greg Little, neither of whom are very experienced at the WR position.

As for the defense, understand the the soft zone coverage has been Everett Withers’ defense of choice all season, regardless of circumstance. That is why, through seven games of the season, the Heels haven’t put that much pressure on opposing QBs and given up more passing yardage than most fans are comfortable with. That is also the reason why UNC had the most interceptions and the highest turnover margin in the nation through six games. It has been effective for us in 93% of game situations. However, for the two minute drill this type of defense plays right into the offense’s hands. (It almost makes you wonder why teams don’t play the 2-minute offense against us for the entire game.) The Heels were bailed out by well-timed turnovers that ended the chances for Miami and Notre Dame to score in the final seconds. Not so in this game. While it is true that the Heels need to change their 2-minute defense, for the rest of the game it’s been working justfinethankyouverymuch.

Finally, the issue of turnovers. Give credit where credit is due: the Cavaliers made sure to take caare of the ball, never really put themselves at risk, and really took away one of the strengths of our defense. in a way, our offense has looked good partly because defense and special teams can usually account for at least one touchdoen per game the first half of the season. The Cavs took care of the ball, we didn’t. The -5 turnover margin in the two losses are what cost this team more than anything else, and the +13 margin in five victories tended to hide flaws that have been present all season, but are only truly discussed in the past 72 hours.

(photo from IC)

I think it’s important to keep things in perspective. Let me make this clear: I am disappointed in this loss, as I am in any loss. I am disappointed in the playcalling, especially in the last two minutes and overtime. And I am especially disappointed that this game extended a road losing streak and pretty much put UNC out of the Coastal division race.

However, this team has been a success this season, and will be a success no matter what. UNC is 5-2 through seven games, and the first time in 11 years that we could say that. The Heels were ranked for consecutive weeks in the regular season for the first time since 1997. With the possible exception of 2001, this is by far our best team since the Mack Brown era. In August anything 7-5 or better would have been considered a rousing success, and the Heels are going to accomplish that barring a total collapse.

The team is not going to fret over this game. They are going to take the lessons from this game and work this week with extra motivation. Most importantly, they are going to move on and look forward to BC this Saturday. I strongly that we, the fans, do the same.

BlogPoll Week 8

Submitted for your approval.

Rank Team Delta
1 Texas
2 Alabama
3 Penn State
4 Oklahoma
5 Oklahoma State
6 Texas Tech 4
7 Florida 1
8 Georgia 1
9 Utah 7
10 Southern Cal 3
11 Ohio State 3
12 Boise State 4
13 LSU 1
14 TCU 12
15 Missouri 4
16 Pittsburgh 4
17 South Florida 9
18 Kansas 3
19 Georgia Tech 7
20 Minnesota 4
21 Boston College 5
22 Brigham Young 15
23 Tulsa 3
24 Ball State 3
25 Maryland 1
Dropped Out: Virginia Tech (#17), North Carolina (#18), Wake Forest (#19), California (#22), Michigan State (#23), Vanderbilt (#25).

Unfortunately, UNC is #26 right now after the loss to Virginia. Why put Maryland (who lost to UVa by a far greater margin) ahead of the Heels, then? Because I am slightly more scared of Maryland at their best. That, and they stand a far greater chance of winning their division.

As for the rest of the poll, it looks pretty ordinary, although I’ve made a point to keep teams ahead of oppnents they’ve beaten no matter what. That why you see Pitt-USF-Kansas at 16-17-18. Now that I think about, I may want to put the Jayhawks a bit lower, though they were impressive in defeat.

UNC vs. Virginia Live Blog

Program pic via Tar Heel Times

UNC has yet to win in Charlottesville during the Welsh/Groh era. Will that change today? Will Brooks Foster/Cooter Arnold/Greg Little/Kenton Thornton/some other player step nup in the absence of Brandon Tate? Can UNC stop Virginia’s running game? Why am I still asking these questions? Let’s just watch and enjoy. Click on the blue letters below for the live blog. starting at 3:30.

Click Here

Virginia Q&A with Extra P

This week’s Q&A preview of the UNC vs. Virginia game, where the Heels hope to end the Hooville House of Horrors, comes from Eric “Extra P” Angevine, co-editor of Storming The Floor, Charlottesville resident, Virginia fan, and freelancer extraordinaire.

1. After the 31-3 loss to Duke (!!!), this Cavaliers team seemed dead in the water. Since then, they?ve beaten Maryland and East Carolina by a combined score of 66-23. The return of running back Cedric Peerman has obviously helped, but one player can?t possibly be responsible for the 59 point swing between the Duke loss and the Maryland victory. What has changed in the last few weeks?

Cedric Peerman didn’t even carry the offense against Maryland. He simply made the most of his 17 carries, with 6.5 yards per carry, and a long run of 35 yards. I guess Cedric represents the threat of the big play for Virginia. The offensive line clearly pepped up a bit, as QB Marc Verica was only sacked once in each game after the Duke loss, and seemed to have more time to find his targets. The defense was stout against the Terps, but started bending again vs. East Carolina, giving up 20 points, so I’m not sure what to make of that side of the ball just yet.

2. Back to the subject of Cedric Peerman. In Chapel Hill last year, he torched the Tar Heels defense with 186 rushing yards. Carolina’s defense, admittedly, is vulnerable to giving up yardage and somewhat dependent on turnovers (#1 in the nation in TO margin). How effective do you think Peerman can be?

If he gets enough touches, odds are Cedric will get his. As I mentioned above, Peerman isn’t being run into the line 20 times a game – Mikell Simpson is still getting 12-15 carries per game. But Peerman was also the leading reciever against East Carolina with eight catches, so clearly Al Groh is trying to get his star RBĀ out in space by any means necessary.

3. Much has been made about Virginia’s 3-4 defense. How do you expect the Tar Heels to handle it?

I believe theĀ conventional wisdom holds that a team should pass early to open up the run. Forcing the linebackers to tend to their coverage duties early in the game should open up some holes and keep pressure off the QB. Don’t tell Coach Groh I told you that.

4. The Tar Heels last won at Charlottesville in 1981. George Welsh was hired in 1982. Clearly, this isn’t a coincidence. Prior to this year, when was the best chance UNC had to end their streak in the Hooville House of Horrors? (the 1996 game still gives me chills.)

I am a terrible choice to answer this question, as I only moved to Cville in 2000. Under those circumstances, your choice of 1996 seems like a good one. There were a lot of NFL-bound ‘Hoos on that team, and a raucous full house at the game, so maybe this year is it.

5. Last, but certainly not least, I’m gonna need a prediction. What happens on Saturday?

Hmmm. UNC has a lot on the line here – they want to win in Cville, become bowl eligible, and stay on course to the ACC championship game. My gut tells me they’re focused enough to do it, even in the face of UVA’s resurgence. The one danger sign that really stands out to me when I look at UNC’s stats, however, is the fact that opponents are putting up more yards than the Heels, both rushing and throwing. If the UNC defense doesn’t clamp down, this could be an upset.
Since I’ve been such a downer so far, I’ll delight everyone by making the homer pick – UVA continues their home streak against the Heels to the tune of 27-23. After the game, Al Groh thanks Clemson and Tommy Bowden for scaring him straight.

ACC Roundtable: Midseason Checkup

Welcome to the first ACC Roundtable, where blogs from around the conference answer questions about all things ACC This week’s questions is a conference football midseason report, and is led by BC Interruption.

1. We are about halfway through the season with the heart of the ACC football schedule upon us. Let’s take a temperature check. Who ya got in the ACC Championship game? Has this changed at all from the teams that you pemcilied in at the beginning of the season as part of your preseason predictions?

At this point, we’re down to six teams in the race to Tampa, three from each division. Virginia Tech, North Carolina, and Georgia Tech are still contenders to win the coastal, as well as Wake Forest, Boston College, and Florida State in the Atlantic. The rest have either played themselves out of competition (Miami, Clemson, NC State) or are just too unpredictable (e.g. Maryland).

I’d like to say that North Carolina is the team I expect to win the Coastal Division, but UNC has to win out and Virginia Tech needs to lose two games, and I’m not completely sold on either possibility. (And all of this could have been prevented had we kept our 17-3 lead. AHHHHHHHHH) Georgia Tech has a similar uphill battle. In the Atlantic Division, Wake is the only team still unbeaten in conference play. They own any tiebreaker againe Florida State or Clemson, and BC and Maryland are still enigmas.

Based on the current trends, it looks like the ACC Championship game will most likely be between Virginia Tech and Wake Forest, a nightmare scenario for John Swofford, who really, really needed the Tigers to pull through for him this time.

2. We’ve only played a few ACC games yet we’ve already seen some upsets of possible Championship game participants – notably maryland over Clemson, Georgia Tech over Boston College, and Virginia over Maryland. Looking at the remaining ACC schedule, pick one league game for each of your ACC Championship game participants where they could be upset.

For the Hokies, they have to lose two game to be denied from Tampa. Their toughest game may be against Miami in November. This young Hurricanes team will be vastly improved by the time Tech comes to town, and they certainly have the talent to beat them in all factes of the game. in other games, a revived Virginia squad would love nothing more than to beat their in-state rivals and spoil their bid for a division championship; the Hokies are technically 1.5-2 point underdogs against BC; and we have not even discussed their trip to Tallahassee on October 25th. Virginia Tech could fall victim to any of those opponents.

The Deacons hold the tiebreaker against FSU, but do not have one against BC or Maryland. A loss to either of them could put their Atlantic hopes in serious jeopardy. They also could lose their matchup with the Hurricanes.

3. Last one, the first BCS standings come out October 19. While it in unlikely that an ACC team will play its way back into the National Title game conversation and a second at-large bid seems equally unlikely, at least we have the Orange Bowl! Is this the year the league puts an end to theor 1-9 BCS skid? Why or why not?

That all depends on who wins the ACC, and who why play in the Orange Bowl. If Virginia Tech or North Carolina win the ACC, and they play the champion of the Big East (say, Pitt), a mid-major other than BYU, or a truly odd at-large like Vandy or Michigan State, athe I like our odds. If Wake goes to the Orange Bowl, and has to face at at-large from the Big 12 (Missouri, Oklahoma) or SEC (Georgia, Florida, LSU), then we’re doomed.

Don’t count out the possibility of a BCS at-large just yet. North Carolina, Florida State, or Georgia Tech could hypthetically go 11-1 and miss the conference title game. Who knows, if UNC were to go 11-1 without winning the Coastal, I would say their chances of getting a BCS at-large are pretty high. 11-1 for Carolina wouldn’t surprise me at this point. Then again, neither would 7-5.

HeelTube: A Tribute To Our Pugilists of the Motherland

Now, that earlier post with the 1975 game was quite fascinating, but I also an ulterior motive for posting it: so I could provide this “Irish” video compilation without karmic retribution later today. It’s just all in good fun, though.

We’ll start with “Danny Boy”, as performed by Beaker, Swedish Chef, and Animal. Because honestly, who isn’t going to watch that?

Next, we bring you Wayne Campbell as “The Leprechaun”.

This news piece from Mobile, Alabama might be the funniest Leprechaun-related incident in modern history.

Bear Grylls spend time as a kid in Ireland, and even had an episode of Man vs. Wild in west Ireland. Therefore, I have full authority to show you Bear eating beetle larvae.

And now, moving on to the actual Fighting Irish. We start with the Obligatory Jimmy Clausen Yakety Sax video.

No one wants to see anybody, much less a coach, tear his ACL. Therefore, I will only show a re-enactment of Charlie Weis’ injury from the Michigan game. I will say this however: Charlie is the closest thing to a life-size plush toy I have ever seen.

And what Notre Dame compilation would be complete without everyone’s favorite fake Irishman, Lou Holtz?

If the Heels turn the ball over 6 times today, I would like to take the time to apologize in advance.

HeelTube: Notre Dame’s Last Visit To Chapel Hill

Much has been discussed this week about the last time Notre Dame came to Kenan Stadium. (BTW, in case no one told you, it’s ND WEEK YAY!) Carolina jumped to an early lead, as the offense took advantage of a botched punt snap and scored the first touchdown of the game. It was Followed by a 39 yard passing touchdown to give UNC a 14-0 lead. In the fourth quarter, however, Joe Montana led his first of many comebacks in his illustrious career. He lead the Irish to three consecutive scoring drive in the final five and a half minute to give Notre Dame a 21-14 victory.

Thanks to the Internet, we now have the video of that game.

One of the things that interests me about this video is the old Kenan Stadium. It appears to be before they built the upper deck (on the north side, anyway), there is no green walkway or hedge between the fans and the sidelines, and the luxury boxes seem to resemble elaborate treehouses compared to the seats they have now. How times have changed.