Party Like It’s 1999

This season the defense has been awesome and the offense has been terrible. I admit that I wasn’t expecting the offense to improve by leaps and bounds this year, but i don’t think anyone believed it would be this bad. All in all, this season has had a very Torbushian feel to it.

At first I thought this was pure coincidence. But then I saw this team run a screen play. On 3rd and long. Shoop’s playcalling is predictable, but even he knows better then that.

Then I happened to stumble across this COMPLETELY untouched photo of “Butch Davis” at practice earlier this week:

butchdavis_2

Look familiar?

You just couldn’t stay away, could you Carl. This, of course, leaves us with two questions:

1. Where have you kidnapped and hidden the real Butch Davis?

2. This means we’re losing to Georgia Southern 3-2, aren’t we?

Tar Heel Mania + Norman Einsteins = Marvin Austin Jokes

As I type this we are less than 48 hours away from the start of college football. After a long trek through the desert, the oasis is nigh. The Norman Einsteins have assembled quite a satirical college football preview this week, and I was given the opportunity to provide a look into the future, through the eyes of defensive tackle/enigma/possible alien Marvin Austin during the Virginia Tech game. Go down toward the bottom of the page to view my part, but really read the whole thing. It’s just a giant bundle of awesome. Not unlike Mr. Austin himself.

bewareofawesome

Super Speedy UNC Spring Football Review

The offseason is a tremendous lull for most sports, but we Americans have found out that if you poke at football long enough during hibernation, you can find something to talk about. So let’s all grab a stick, shall we?

Players Who Should Get You Really, Really Excited for September

WR Dwight Jones: Will burning the redshirt last November pay off? For the moment, the answer is yes. Jones, the man in the center of that practice photo, has developed rapidly since the 2008 season, and while he certainly hasn’t reached Hakeem Nicks-levels of route running, he doesn’t have to. The projected top 3 receivers (Jones, Greg Little and Josh Adams/Rashad Mason) are all 6’4″ or taller, leaving  T.J. Yates with the ideal “throw it up and see if they catch it” scenario when things go wrong. If it brought down the undefeated Patriots, it can bring down Virginia Tech, right?

TB Jamal Womble: Aside from the spring game, very little is known about Womble except for all the records that he broke in high school. The Spring Game has proven to be an unreliable data set, but it seems apparent that Womble will get a lot of carries this season. He’s has speed and strength, but most importantly he has vision. He seems to have a keen eye for which alleys to attack at the line and in the secondary. With less than 10 carries in an exhibition game, he has shown more vision and elusiveness than Draughn and Houston showed last season.  Unlike Draughn and Houston, Womble will also be an effective receiver out of the backfield. Having lost the top three receivers from 2008 and looking for T.J. Yates to stay healthy, UNC will need to bolster its backfield production in 2009. Jamal Womble looks like he can make an immediate impact.

LB Zach Brown: Bruce Carter and HIS HIGHNESS QUANTAVIUS have established themselves as two of the most athletic linebackers in the ACC. Zach is faster than both of them. Whether that translates to pure defensive awesomeness is yet to be seen, but Everett Withers would be hard-pressed to find a better college linebacking corps to suit his Cover 2-esque scheme.

Really Tall Punter Guy: I don’t remember this guy’s name, but he’s the tallest player on the team, he wore #39 at the spring game, and he has a cannon for a leg. He punted three or four times, and each of them went for about 60 yards and had tremendous hangtime.

Players Who You Really Hope Made the Most of the Offseason


CB Jordan Hemby: Kendric Burney is a lockdown corner, but Hemby is still a projected starter by his side. This should concern you because his play in 2008 was, to put it diplomatically, enigmatic and inconsistent.

SS Da’Norris Searcy: Trimane Goddard left some pretty big shoes to fill. Searcy is talented, and he displayed flashes of brilliance against West Virginia in the bowl game. Still, it’s yet to be seen how easily he can fill Goddard’s role.

Defensive-End-By-Committee: It’s close to certain that Robert Quinn will spearhead one side of the line, but the other side looks to be a revolving door of inconsistent veterans and talented but inexperienced freshmen.

The Offensive Line: The offensive line kept some stability from 2008, but the absences of Garrett Reynolds (graduation/NFL) and Aaron Stahl (foregoing last year of eligibility due to injury) will be felt.

WR Greg Little: Greg goes back to his natural position this season as the most experienced receiver on the team and, perhaps ironically, the non-QB best acquainted with John Shoop’s playbook. Fans are beginiing to wonder if he will justify the hype surrounding his arrival in Chapel Hill. This is the year where he will either silecne the critics or prove them right. I think he’ll do well, but the jury is out for now.

T.J. Yates’ Health: Wolfpack Fans, if I don’t see frisbees on the field at Carter-Finley this November, I will be severely disappointed in you.

Am I being a bit opitmistic here? Probably. But the summer is the time for optimism, a time for anticipating what’s to come. Grumbling, cynicism and reduction of expectaion should wait, at least, until UConn scores on a devastating 90-yard drive in the third quarter. Until then RESERVE THE HOTEL TO MIAMI WERE GOING 11-1 OMG WHOOOOOO!!!

Photos: The venerable Inside Carolina.

The Nightmare After Christmas

Programming note: You damn right we’re live-blogging the Car Care Bowl. Stop by on Saturday afternoon for that. In leiu of bowl analysis, I will provide you with a fake story. If you’ve read this blog before, it’s probably what you would have preferred anyway. Enjoy.

December 27, 9:45 am. West Virginia coach Bill Stewart addresses his team at breakfast before they leave for Bank of America Stadium.

Bill Stewart: And one more thing before we head onto that field, men. We may not have accomplished what we wanted to this year, but dammit if we didn’t give our full effort!

Pat White: (is pumped)

Noel Devine: (plays Wii in the back corner)

Bill Stewart: Now, we’ve got a good opponent today in North Carolina. They’re going to be fierce today. But they won’t be as intense as us, and I know why.

Noel Devine: (reaches level 5 on whatever the hell he’s playing)

Bill Stewart: Because this game…is about honor. Guys like Pat have spent the last four years playing their hearts out and representing this university better than I possibly could. When this game is over, could you really look at our seniors in the face, after their final game in uniform, knowing that you gave anything less than your very best?

Everyone: (silence, nodding)

Bill Stewart: Of course not. This game is about them, the seniors. Let them end their time here on a high note. Now let’s go out there and have some fun!

Team: WHOOOOOOOO (rushes out of hotel conference room)

Noel Devine: (takes attention off Wii) Where’ed everybody go, coach?

Bill Stewart: Darn it.

————–

Later, in the coaches “bus”…

Bill Stewart: Gosh, Ed. These boys are gonna win today. I can feel it.

Ed Pastilong, WVU AD: Yeah, yeah.

Bill Stewart: By the way, I like your idea of putting the coaches and players on seperate buses to the team can collect their thoughts ‘fore the game.

Ed: Thank you, Bill.

Bill Stewart: I have just one, question, though.

Ed: Go ahead.

Bill Stewart: Why are we in an unmarked black van?

Ed: Umm…we’re saving gas?

Bill Stewart: Works for me.

Ed: Good.

Bill Stewart: Hey, the bus is going that way.

Ed: I know, I know. But we’re going THIS way.

Bill Stewart: Why?

Ed: Because the coaches and players arrive at different parts of the stadium.

Bill Stewart: But they’re headed away from Charlotte.

Ed: They probably just decided to get a pregame snack.

Bill Stewart: Oh.

Bill Stewart: Say, aren’t those the Tar Heels?

Ed: Yep.

Bill Stewart: So are we goin’ to say hi?

Ed: Yep.

Bill Stewart: That was a pretty ominous yep.

Ed: Where’d you learn a word like “ominous”?

Bill Stewart: I work at a university. Heck if I know what it means, though.

Ed: Oh. Anyway, your old coach Dick Crum is here to greet you.

Bill Stewart: Oh hey! I’ll go out and meet him!

Ed: Yeah. You do that.

Butch Davis: (talking to Everett Withers): and whatever you do, fix the prevent–

Ed: Hey Coach Davis! Can yhou come over here for a second!

Butch: No way! I don’t trust you, shady guy driving that unmarked van.

Ed: (Holds cartoonishly huge sack of money)

Butch: You’ve just earned my trust. (walks up to van)

Four burly arms come out of the van and grab coach Davis

Butch: What the fu–(is dragged into van)

Ed: GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO

The van speeds off to the interstate, never to be seen again.

Dick Baddour: (noticing the ruckus) What just happened?

BillStewart: Aw, well shucks, it’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Baddour. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it looks like you’ve got a coaching vacancy.

Dick Baddour: WHAT?!?

Bill Stewart: Yeah, they just drove off with Mr. Davis and, well, I was wondering if you were interested in giving me the job.

John Blake: THE HELL YOU ARE I’M A STONE COLD FREAK AND I GOT DIBS ON HIS DAMN SEAT FOOL

BIll Stewart: Now, that’s not very nice.

John Blake: WHATCHA GON DO BOUT IT FOOL

Random NC State fan passing by: IN YOUR FACE 41-10 41-10 41-10 STATE CHAMPIONSHIP AWOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO (does that stupid wolf thing with his hands)

Dick Baddour: AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

Dick Baddour: (wakes up, panting heavily) Oh…oh my God. Thank the Lord. Just a bad dream.

(phone rings)

Dick Baddour: Hello?

Hi, this is Jay Jacobs. It looks like Chizik’s gonna get run out of town after goin’ 4-8 next season, and in 2009 it’s pretty much down to your guy or Muschamp to save my job. Just though you should know. (hangs up)

Can’t ANYONE let this program win 8-9 games a year in peace?

Your Weekly Reminder of This Season’s Unbridled Awesomeness

(Photo: IC)

It’s been a week off from football for the Heels, so maybe this week you need a quick reminder of how great this season has been.

  • Trimane Goddard has, by himself, more interceptions than the entire team has in 2002, 2003, 2004, or 2006.
  • What was in August considered to be the team’s biggest weakness, linebacker, may now be its biggest strength. Bruce Carter, Mark Paschal, and QUANTAVIUS THE MAGNIFICENT have played beyond anyone’s expectations for 2008.
  • Goddard’s performance has made him a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, the first time that a UNC player has been a candidate for a season-ending award since Julius Peppers in 2001.
  • This year’s team has forced more turnovers than in those four seasons combined.
  • Cam Sexton is 4-1 as a starter. The same Cam sexton who went 0-5 in 2006 and many fans had since considered to be a doomsday scenario at QB up until the beginning of this season.
  • For the first time in a while, we have a legitimate rushing attack, with Shaun Draughn getting most of the carries and Ryan Houston being used in short yardage and goalline situations. in years past, even getting inside the five was not the sure sign of a touchdown. This year, we have yet to drive inside the 10 yard line and come up with anything less.
  • As a byproduct of that, the Heels offense is more efficient. They don’t administer many self-inflicted wounds, as they would have in years past. The defense creates a lot of opportunities, and now the offense is capable of making them pay.
  • UNC is much more efficient on third down situations. The Heels have a more effective running game, which they use often on first and second down. Given a short field on third down, the offense converts 45% of its chances this year, second only to Florida State in conference.
  • Because they convert third downs and can run the ball, the Heels are now very good at sustaing long, prodding drives that take time off the clock and keep opposing offenses off the field. This deeply contrasts with Tar Heel teams of years past. The 2003 memory of Arizona State still haunts me. The Heels needed onlt one first down on 3rd and 1 with less than two minutes to go against the Sun Devils to seal the win. Unfortunately, no one was confident in the running backs. So instead the coaches called…a QB sneak. Naturally, Darian Durant was stuffed, UNC had to punt, and Arizona State drove down the field to score the game-winning touchdown as time expired.
  • Conversely, look at the Virginia game of this year. With each passing possession the Cavs were gaining momentum, and with 10 minutes to play in the fourth quarter the Heels started from their own six. thanks to some decent running and a few well-timed catches by Hakeem Nicks, the Heels were able to drive down the field for more than seven minutes and ultimately score a field goal, giving UNC a 10-3 lead with 2:22 to play. If not for the Everett Withers’ two-minute defense, that would have, and should have, been the drive that won the game and brought the Heels to 7-1. The times have certainly changed.
  • At least two of the players leading our offense, Cam Sexton and Shaun Draughn, were so deep down in the depth chart in August that few people expected them to have any factor this season.
  • By the end of next year, Brandon Tate and Hakeem Nicks may be the two most decorated receivers in school history.
  • UNC is 6-2 in November, and may win the ACC Coastal division without the help of T.J. Yates or Brandon Tate for most of the season.
  • Just for good measure, I have to say it one more time: Cam. Sexton. Is 4-1. As a starter. Meanwhile, four-star QB Mike Paulus has been relegated to standing on the sidelines and practicing his Blue Steel.

paulus_mike1Well, you can’t please everyone.

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 RB 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 the 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.

Time to Get Your Hopes Up

The symbol of optimists everywhere.

At the end of the ACC Kickoff, the media voted on how they thought the conference would shake out. As expected, Clemson and Virginia Tech are the favorites to win their respective divisions, with the Tigers expected to win the conference. Much like the Spanish soccer team, experts are expecting Clemson to do what their talent says they should have done for the past three years.

There was also the usual mild surprises such as Florida State and Miami finishing in the middle of their respective divisions (sweet) and NC State finishing last in the Atlantic (super sweet). What was the most shocking to me, however, was where the Tar Heels were ranked.

The media expects big things out of Chapel Hill this year. That, or they expect to enjoy pointing and laughing at ACC football this season. Either way, the Heels were voted to finish second in the Coastal this season. Yes, this is a down year for the conference and yes, we’re expected to make one of the biggest leaps of any team in the country this year. So why is it still surprising to a Carolina fan? Because the last time the media picked us to finish in the top half of the ACC, this guy was our quarterback. Hint: our team vaguely resembled a spice rack. (People often forget that he was supposed to be the next Charlie Ward.)

So, are the media expecting too much too fast, or are Heels fans still overly cautious to be emotionally invested in a potential 8-9 win season? I think it’s the latter. This is the year where Carolina can, and should, make the leap into a consistent bowl contender. The nonconference schedule is solid but not daunting, we dodged the top half of the Atlantic Division, and we get many of our most important games (especially Virginia Tech) at home. Virtually every game is winnable; we proved that we can stay close no matter who we play. And all of our young, talented players now have a year under their belts.

Granted, I would still be happy with just a bowl game. But the stars have aligned this season. It’s time…finally…for Carolina fans to expect great things from their football team.

UPDATE: Deunta Williams certainly has his hopes up. Way, way up. Hey, if Wake could win an ACC title in 2006, we certainly stand a chance to get it in 2008.