ACC Roundtable Roundup #2

Would you like to take a survey?

Welcome to the roundup of this week’s ACC Roundtable. Our esteemed panelists for this week are Myself, BC Interruption, Block C, College Game Balls, From Old Virginia, Gobbler Country, and The Legacy x4.

Okay, first things first: could someone please explain what the hell just happened this past Saturday?

The general consensus here is that the events of Saturday are less unexpected than at first glance. Sure, Wake, UNC, and Virginia Tech may have all been ahead in the standings. But, as From Old Virginia points out, those were all conference road games, which are never, ever easy.

BC Interruption sees the reason for the ACC’s “fluctuation” has less to do with the teams themselves and more to do with that the media “is easily distracted by shiny things” and constantly re-assesses the state of the conference from week to week.

College Game Balls, however, may have the best answer of anyone:

Heather Dinich used her Greek Goddess abilities to flip the league on top of its head, again.

Dinich bathes in the schadenfreude emanating from the ACC. Of course, CGB’s statement requires the suspension of disbelief that Ms. Dinich has abilities, is Greek, or is anything close to Godliness.

I happen to be of the belief that what happened last Saturday was less a product of superstition and more a product of the three offenses scoring nineteen combined points in regulation. An extra fourteen, of course, came courtesy of Chris Crane throwing to Hokies.

Block C takes his answer in another direction, answering what happened to Clemson against Georgia Tech. The saga of their beloved Tigers’ season is enough to fill a book. Hopefully, it has a happy ending with a new, smashingly successful coach. Wait, did I just use the word smashing?

Good Maryland, Bad Maryland, we’ve seen a fair share of both in 2008. Good Maryland may be the best team in the ACC, while Bad Maryland could probably lose by 20 to anyone left on their schedule. Which Maryland do we see for the rest of the season and where do you expect the Terps to finish?

No one on the panel is particularly optimistic about the Terps for the rest of the season. Currently at 5-2, No one except me expects them to do any better than 8-4, and everyone expects the Bad Terps to show up at least once. Most panelists, like From Old Virginia and The Legacy x4, point out their now-backloaded schedule will keep them from winning more than 3 games. Both Virginia Tech panelists mentioned that the Bad Terps usually show up on the road, while the Good Terps come out of the shell at home. (Hooray for more bad puns!) Most interestingly, Gobbler country discusses Maryland big weakness:

The key for the Terps this year has been their rush defense. If you can run on Maryland, you can beat them handily. But if they stop you from running the ball, things aren’t going to go well for you.

Whatever the case may be, the Roundtable is unanimously bursting Maryland’s Atlantic bubble.

Injuries are a part of college football, but they seem to have ravaged ACC offenses this year. Wake Forest has been without Sam Swank, Clemson is without C.J. Spiller, UNC is without T.J. Yates and Brandon Tate, Virginia Tech is without Kenny Lewis Jr., and NC State is without just about everybody. Which team misses their fallen star(s) most and why?

There seem to be two distinct camps here. Both BC Interruption and College Game Balls say that the conference’s most costly offensive injury is the one to Wake’s Sam Swank, the closest thing to an automatic kicker in college football and a big difference in close games. Which makes sense, until you consider that is reasonable to expect the Wake Forest offense, with all its talent, to score more than one TD in three conference game. Then there’s the factor that Wake’s defense usually keeps them in every game and–

You get the idea.

From old Virginia goes a different direction and points to the gradual loss of staff in Virginia Tech’s offense that has led, in part, to their 110th ranked offense. (And UNC gave up a 14 point lead to it? Yeesh.)  On defense, FoV references the injury to BC linebacker Brian Toal.

With four votes, however, the player whom the panel thinks is missed the most is UNC quarterback T.J. Yates. This completely florred me, not because it isn’t a good answer but because I never expected my conference brethren to have any sympathy toward the injuries of my beloved Tar Heels. Then again, I probably probably shouldn’t confuse sympathy with acknowledgement.

The primary reason seems to be, despite the admirable job that Cam Sexton has done in his stead, that the Heels just plain don’t lose that game of Virginia Tech if Yates had remained healthy. And that’s probably true. But that throws into question all of the other games that followed. Of course, if we have the same 5-2 record but with losses to Miami and Notre Dame instead of those teams from the Commonwealth, we’re probably in much better shape in the conference race.

Last one: the pretty much unanimous division champs were Virginia Tech and Wake Forest last week. Given all the craziness that just happened, give us your updated ACC Championship scenario.

But enough about my team. With two losses to teams ahead of them in the division, it would take a miracle for UNC to win the Costal at this point.

Many panelists (CGB, Gobbler Country, BC Interruption, and The Legacy x4) are opting for homerism and picking their own teams to go to Tampa. Fortunately for them Virginia Tech, Boston College and Georgia Tech are three of the teams in better position to win. Both BC and GT have daunting schedules, though, and the Jackets would lose any tiebreakers with the Hokies. Despite the Terps’ lights-out performance this past Saturday, no one has the guts to put Maryland in the Championship game as of yet (see Question 2). Of all the CG predictions, my own FSU-Miami pick was probably the most ambitious, and while I had reason to defense the pick, it ultimately boiled down to “this conference is crazy”.

In the final tallies, though, it’s 2.5 votes for Georgia Tech, 3.5 vote for Virginia Tech, 1 vote for Miami, 3 votes for Boston College, 2 votes for Florida State, and 2 votes for Wake Forest.

No team won a majority, but the plurality points to a rematch of last year’s championship game between Virginia Tech and Boston College.

You can almost feel the cynicism oozing out of your screen right now.

If you are an enterprising ACC blogger and are interested in joining the roundtable, just send an email with a link to your site. The more panelists, the merrier.

UNC vs. South Carolina Live Blog

Today North Carolina plays South Carolina in perhaps UNC’s biggest game of the year. If the Tar Heels can pull off the upset, it would change the entire scope of our season.

3:33 pm: UNC gets the kickoff to start the game. 1st down at the 25.

3:34 pm: Elzy gets the carry, and he’s stuffed at the line.

3:35 pm: Elzy takes it on second down, and this time he gets a big loss. Ugh. 3rd and 14, and SC is #4 in the nation in 3rd down defense.

3:36 pm: Run, run, incompletion, punt. If you watched UNC in the Carl Torbush era, this would be very familiar.

Terence Brown’s punt is very nearly blocked, and South Carolina will start at their own 40.

3:38 pm: The Gamecocks are running a pseudo-hurry up offense. A nice gain on the 1st down screen, but the outside run is stuffed.

3:39 pm: Smelley overthrows the swing pass–badly–and the UNC defense holds their own on defense. After a touchback, the Heels will start at the 20.

3:42 pm: Yates throws a floater on first down, but it’s nearly intercepted. Hakeem Nicks did a good job of breaking it up.

Elzy runs again, and he’s stuffed again.

3:43 pm: SACK, Eric Norwood! The Heels are forced to punt again. 6 plays, -8 yard. After another bad punt, USC will start in UNC territory.

3:45 pm: Smelly throws on first down, and he finds his tight end in the middle of the field. First down, and the Gamecocks are already in field goal range.

3:47 pm: A pass is tipped, and Deunta Williams very nearly comes up with the interception–and in fact, he may very well have picked it off. The play is under review.

3:49 pm: The pass stands as incomplete. Booooo…..

3:51 pm: Hilee Taylor is caught offsides, and SC has a first down in the red zone. Cory Boyd takes the next draw play, and he runs down to the 3.

3:52 pm: TOUCHDOWN. Smelley is given all kinds of time, and he fires a bullet to Lecorn in the end zone. UNC played zone, and they paid for it. South Carolina leads, 7-0.

3:57 pm: UNC is called for block in the back on the return, and they have to start inside their own 10.

South Carolina is called offsides.

3:58 pm: Yates throws a quick pass to Hakeem Nicks, who catches on the slant for a first down.

3:59 pm: Yates throws another quick pass, this time to Brooks Foster for a 5 yard gain.

4:00 pm: There should have been a pass interference call, but when you run the same play three times in a row, the defense is going catch on.

Hakeem Nicks gets another first down catch, and UNC gets another 5 yards after a defensive holding call.

4:01 pm: The Tar Heels run a direct snap to Greg Little, and it works to perfection; he gets a big gain to the left side, and now UNC is at the SC 37.

4:02 pm: Joe Dailey takes the direct snap at quarterback. Shockingly, nothing bad happens, and he gets 5 yards.

4:03 pm: Yates is flushed out of the pocket, and he’s forced to throw across his body on the left side. The pass is quick, but Tate can;t come up with it. Fourth down.

4:04 pm: Barth misses! He misses the 49 yard field goal, and his streak of 19 FGs made is snapped. UNC still trails, 7-0, but the Tar Heels seem to finally be moving the ball.

4:07 pm: South Carolina gets good field position off the missed FG. Maike Davis gets a big gain on first down, and already SC is near midfield.

4:08 pm: TOUCHDOWN. McKinley is left in man-to-man coverage, and Smelley puts the ball right where it has to be. South Carolina leads 14-0, and UNC is already in big trouble. If the defense can’t make a stop, then we have no chance.

4:11 pm: Great another block in the back.

4:12 pm: Elzy takes the handoff and he gets a first down. Those are the kinds of run plays that we need.

4:13 pm: 3rd and 2, after a catch by Pianalto and another decent run by Elzy.

Little takes the direct snap again, and this time he gets a first down up the middle. He does an excellent job with the fake handoff.

4:14 pm: Kenan Stadium does not have an empty seat right now. As God intended. Elzy takes the handoff and runs for another first down. Nice to see that the Tar Heels didn’t abandon the run after the early struggles.

4:16 pm: Quick pass to Hakeem Nicks on the outside, and he gets 9 yards. Elzy give the Tar Heels another first down, and hopefully he’s finally starting to keep the USC defense honest.

4:17 pm: That’s the end of the first quarter. South Carolina leads 14-0, but North Carolina is knocking on the doorstep.

4:20 pm: Bobby Rome needs to look that ball into his hands. He worried too much about the run after, and he dropped it.

4:21 pm: Johnny White gets the carry. His carry is underwhelming, and it’s third down.

4:22 pm: Yates scrambles for a few yards, but it’s short of the first down. Fortunately, Barth’s kick is right down the middle this time. South Carolina’s lead is now 14-3.

4:25 pm: South Carolina gets the ball back. UNC’s defense must step up.

4:26 pm: The Gamecocks get a quick first down on two run plays. UNC has not done a good job of controlling the line of scrimmage.

4:27 pm: How does a fullback get left so wide open in the middle?

4:28 pm: Cory Boyd past midfield, and he gets a first down inside the 40. A facemask penalty now brings them to the 35.

4:29 pm: The D-line finally makes its presence felyt. Marvin Austin comes unblocked up the middle, and forces an intentional grounding from Smelley. 2nd ad 24 on the 14 yard loss.

OH! E.J. Wilson predicts the swing pass, and he very nearly has the interception. But he can;t hang on to the ball.

4:30 pm: Mike Davis takes the short pass, but it’s well short of a first down, and South Carolina has fourth down at the 38.

4:31 pm: UPDATE: LSU 7, UK, 7.

Succop’s punt is terrible, and UNC will start with decent field position. Marvin Austin may have potentially saved this game for UNC…at least for now.

4:34 pm: Brandon Tate takes the quick pass, and he gets big yardage after the catch. First down, UNC at the 42.

4:36 pm: Yates finally gets time, and Yates fires it downfield to a wide open Tate…but he’s just a half-step too short of the catch and near certain touchdown.

4:37 pm: Little’s catch on third down is well short, and UNC has to punt. This time, Brown’s punt is excellent, and Munnerlyn fair catches at the 8 yard line.

4:39 pm: FUMBLE! Davis fumbles on third down insode their own red zone, and “Quantavius Sturdivant” recovers inside the 15. UNC now Has great field position–and momentum.

4:40 pm: Just when we have the momentum, another penalty on the Tar Heels. This time it’s a holding call.

4:42 pm: INTERCEPTION! NOOOOOOO!!! Yates is under deep pressure from the inside, and he’s about to get sacked out of field goal range. Instead of taking the sack or throwing it away, he throws a floater into double coverage. Predictably, it gets picked off. That was exactly what we needed not to happen. We had first down at the SC 15, and for the drive to end like that… just terrible execution by every member of the Tar Heel offense.

4:49 pm: UNC’s defense holds for a 3-and-out. They seem to have finally adjusted to the Gamecocks.

4:51 pm: The USC defense is definitely winning the battle of the trenches right now. The Tar Heels offensive line has let them through too many times in the first half.

4:52 pm: SACK. Yates has nowhere to go on third down, and UNC has their 15th play for 0 yards or a loss today. Even worse, Captain Munnerlyn returns the punt into UNC territory.

4:54 pm: I knew that UNC was young, but even I didn’t know that 51 of the 84 players on our roster had not played a down until this season.

4:55 pm: Steve Spurrier is angry. He has little reason to; his team is dominating.

South Carolina faces 4th and inches, and they are going for it.

4:57 pm: Smelley tries the sneak, and he gets the first down…barely.

5:00 pm: Cory Boyd runs again on 3rd and short, and he gets it easily. Less than 30 seconds left in the first half.

5:01 pm: TOUCHDOWN. Once again, a receiver is left wide open in the middle of the field, and this time it’s a touchdown for Jared Cook. South Carolina leads, 21-3 before halftime, and this game may already ge out of reach for the Tar Heels.

5:04 pm: T.J. Yates takes the first down, and he immediately throws into a defender’s hands. Yates now has more interceptions than touchdowns, and has thrown seven straight picks without a score.

Halftime mercifully arrives, and South Carolina leads 21-3. If UNC has any chance of coming back, they need to do pretty much the opposite of whatever they were doing in the first half.

The defense did a decent job, especially in the secon dquarter, but they leave way tto much open space in the middle and it’s costing them big time. As for the offense..they need to go back to the runnning game and the short passes for yards after the catch. Those were the only plays working for the offense in the first half.

5:27 pm: The second half has begun, and South Carolina gets the ball to start the second half. Apparently, with 3 TDs Chris Smelley already has a career day. Is he getting that good, or has our defense just been that bad?

5:29 pm: UNC forces a punt, but we have some very bad news: Brandon Tate is out of the game, apparently with a concussion, and Hakeem Nicks has a bad ankle. The one strength we had on offense, and it seems to have been taken away from us.

5:31 pm: Elzy gets the carry. He barely gets past the line of scrimmage.

5:32 pm: We still have at least one big play receiver in Brooks Foster, who made a big catch on third down to move the chains.

5:37 pm: The USC defense continues to put pressure on Yates, and he’s sacked on third down. The defensive line hasn’t allowed North Carolina to do anything on offense.

5:30 pm: The good news: South Carolina roughs the kicker, and UNC has a first down. The bad news: UNC commits a personal foul after the play, and it’s 1st and 25.

5:40 pm: Correction: it wasn’t a first and 25, but it might as well be, Carolina is called for holding again! There have been at least several instances in which UNC has been given opportunities, and each time the Heels have made a big mistake to throw their chance away.

5:43 pm: What is wrong with the Tar Heels today? After taking a big step forward in their win against Miami, they seem to be taking big steps backward today: questionable decision making, lack of concentration, and an inability to take advantage of the opportunities that South Carolina has given them.

5:49 pm: Ryan Houston is getting a few carries now. On third down, he finally gives UNC a nice run, and finally some spark.

5:52 pm: Just like that, UNC is forced to punt again. The passing game is not working at all. With less than 20 minutes left in the game though, I think it’s 4 down territory from this point on.

5:56 pm: After yesterday’s Late Night with Roy, and with the way this game is turning out, many UNC fans, may already be looking toward basketball season. I say not yet; UNC’s defense forced another 3-and-out, and this is the toughest opponent we’ll face all year.

5:58 pm: How did that punt not get blocked? Bruce Carter went right up the middle untouched, but he was half a step too slow.

5:59 pm: Yates gets a big pass on first down to Bobby Rome, and UNC is now in SC territory.

6:00 pm: Hakeem Nicks returns to the game with authority! He gets the ball and big yards after the catch, and suddenly the Heels are back in the red zone.

6:01 pm: The third quarter ends with, guess what, another sack. South Carolina leads 21-3 after 3 quarters, and it would take a miracle fourth quarter for UNC to come back.

6:04 pm: TOUCHDOWN! Greg Little takes the pass, makes the entire secondary miss, and dives in for the score. Ryan Baucom misses the extra point, but UNC now trails 21-9 off of Yates’ first TD pass since the Virginia game. The crowd is back in this game, and UNC isn’t quite out of this yet.

6:08 pm: SACK! E.J, Wilson (and really, the entire defensive line) puts the pressure on Smelley. After a broken up pass, it’s now third down. The crowd is alive.

6:09 pm: Delay of game on South Carolina.

6:10 pm: SACK! Hilee Taylor gets to the QB, and Smelley has no chance. 3 and out. UNC may yet have one more opportunity in this game.

6:14 pm: Foster makes the catch on third down, but it;s a few yards short. With time running out, UNC is going for it.

6:15 pm: Wait a minute…They’re not seriously going to run in a jumbo formation on 4th and a long 2…wait, a timeout. Thank God.

6:18 pm: FIRST DOWN! UNC goes for it, puts everyone on the line, and Yates runs the play action. Hakeem Nicks is wide open downfield, and UNC gets a huge first down right when they needed it.

6:19 pm: Ref: “Please reset the Gamecock to 11:02”.

6:20 pm: It’s a miracle that Yates managed to avoid the pressure. Third and long.

6:21 pm: What a catch by Nicks, and another first down for the Tar Heels!

6:22 pm: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!

UNC tries a fake play, an end-around to Joe Dailey, who throws the ball under pressure. If you watched Joe dailey last year, you know exactly what happens next. This game is now pretty much over.

I know people are going to criticize this play, but I don’t think it was a terrible call. Terrible execution, but not a terrible call.

6:24 pm: INTERCEPTION! I take that back. Mark Paschal picks off the pass by Smelley. Just when I think they’re out, the defense pulls me back in.

6:25 pm: Johnny White gets a huge run, and suddenly the Tar Heels are back inside the USC 25.

6:26 pm: Johnny White runs to the left again, finds a seam, and picks up a first down at the 11.

6:27 pm: NO! another potential turnover, this time a Greg Litlle fumble. Fortunately, UNC recovers.

6:28 pm: Yates is hit as he throws on third down, and it’s way out of bounds. UNC has no choice but to go for it…wait…WHAT?!?! What is Butch doing sending the kicker out there?!?!?

6:32 pm: Yates throws a fade on fourth down, and the ball goes through the arms of Greg Little. A near perfect pass, and Greg Little misses. South Carolina takes over, and barring another USC turnover this game is in the books.

6:34 pm: UNC forces another 3-and-out, but it’s too little, too late.

6:38 pm: Johnny White takes the pass up the middle and gets a huge gain to the 26, and then Nicks makes a huge grab at the 4 yard line. UNC, why must you toy with my emotions?

6:39 pm: TOUCHDOWN! TJ YATES TAKES IT IN HIMSELF! The heels fail on the 2 point conversion, but UNC now trails 21-15 with 3:03 left. If the Heels can force another 3-and-out, they can get the ball back with a chance to win. I simply cannot believe it.

6:42 pm: What is UNC doing running the onside kick?!? Barth makes a near perfect kick but the ball goes out of bounds, and South Carolina ball. I did not understand that call at all. Our defense has been playing out of their minds in the second half; why give the USC offense momentum?

6:44 pm: After two huge defensive plays, Cory Boyd runs a screen for twelve yards. South Carolina now faces fourth and short. Will they go for it?

They will kick the field goal.

IT’S OFF THE POST! IT’S OFF THE POST! AND NOW, UNC WILL HAVE 40 SECONDS AND GREAT FIELD POSITION!

6:48 pm: White is open, but he drops the ball.

6:48 pm: Little makes the catch. 28 seconds left, in SC territory.

Kenton Thornton catches again. Inside the 40.

6:49 pm: Greg Little nearly stays in bounds when he absolutely need to go out of bounds. 11 seconds left.

6:50 pm: Four seconds left. Little almost gets the catch in the endzone.

6:52 pm: Yates’ hail mary is…short. South Carolina knocks down for the incompletion, and South Carolina wins, 21-15. A lot of mistakes and missed opportunities for North Carolina, but they still have a lot to be proud of, coming back from three scores down to stay alive and give South Carolina the fight of their lives. The defense stepped up when they had to–not allowing a single first down in the second half!–but the offense just could not take advantage.

UNC vs. #23 USF Live Blog

Today UNC is in Tampa to play the USF Bulls, who are ranked for the first time in history. To get ready for the game, see the UNC-USF preview.

12:03 pm: USF gets the ball to start the game. A good start on defense is crucial.

12:05 pm: On third down, Matt Grothe runs the draw, and gets through a big hole to get 15+ yards and a first down.

12:07 pm: We’re starting with the exact same problems we had against Virginia. The D-line is getting overpowered, the secondary is being caught out of position, and when we get to the ball, we can’t wrap up.

12:08 pm: TOUCHDOWN! Mike Ford runs to the outside, and he runs untouched into the endzone. 7-0, USF early in the first quarter. Junior Ben Williams brought them down the field, but Ford finished off the drive. Thing’s aren’t looking good for our defense early. The D-line is, once again, allowing themselves to be dominated physically at the line of scrimmage.

12:12 pm: Our Mascot’s name is Rameses. Get it right, Pam Ward.

12:13 pm: With the short kickoff, UNC starts at the 40 yard line.

12:14 pm: Yates complete his first two passes, first to Hakeem Nicks and then to Brooks Foster, and UNC gets the first down.

12:15 pm: SACK! George Selvie gets a huge jump on the ball, sacking T. J. Yates and forcing a punt. Selvie ran off the line of scrimmage so fast, I had to watch the replay to make sure he wasn’t offside. That guy is fast.

12:17 pm: Jamar Taylor takes the swing pass on first down, and he’s able to get through several defenders for the first. Our secondary HAS to stop arm tackling.

12:19 pm: I’m not saying anything, but my first impression of ESPN’s Rob Simmelkjaer was this:

12:20 pm: With USF advancing the ball again, UNC takes a timeout on 3rd and 3.

12:24 pm: Either the UNC secondary is really lapsing, or USF’s receivers are fast eoungh to get wide open in the middle. My guess is both.

12:26 pm: TOUCHDOWN! Grothe fires a bullet in the red zone to Amare Jackson, who breaks yet another UNC arm tackle to get in the endzone. 14-0, USF, as the Bulls have their way early on offense. UNC needs to respond with a score on this next drive, or else this game could get ugly.

12:29 pm: Brandon Tate’s kick return bring the Tar Heels in good field position again. They’ll start at the 36.

12:30 pm: UNC run their first rushing play of the game. Johnny White gets 4 yards.

USF brings the cornerback blitz on second down, and Yates’ bootleg fails miserably.

12:32 pm: INTERCEPTION! Yates rolls out on third down, and he fires a deep pass intended for Brooks Foster. The pass isn’t even close, and USF takes over inside their own 20.

12:33 pm: MARVIN AUSTIN WATCH: Marvin gets a huge tackle on first down, for a loss of 4 yards.

12:34 pm: UNC finally catches a defensive break, forcing a three and out after Deunta Williams breaks up a pass on third down and forces a punt.

12;35 pm: ESPN showed this interesting stat: UNC has as many freshman on their roster as they have players in all other classes, combined (42). We might be losing now, but the future is bright, for sure.

12:36 pm: Johnny White gets a first down on a 10 yard gain to open the drive.

12:37 pm: Holy crap, stop the presses! UNC may actually have an effective running game today! three runs, 25+ yards, two first downs.

12:38 pm: I knew it! Selvie is jumping offside. He’s quick, but he isn’t that quick.

12:39 pm: The first quarter ends, as USF has grabbed a 14-0 lead. UNC faces 3rd down to start the second quarter, and they need to convert to help get back in this game. It’s still early, but USF can make a blowout out of this.

12:43 pm: T. J Yates fires it to Hakeem Nicks, and he gets big yards after the catch and gets inside the USF 30.

12:44 pm: UNC is really committed to the running game on this drive. Johnny White gets another nice run to get to the 20.

12:45 pm: After a loss on 2nd down, Yates throws to Nicks again. This time, Trae Williams breaks up the pass. UNC settles for a field goal. USF leads 14-3, But UNC is finally on the board, and finally having a good running game will help both our offense (opens up the passing game) and our defense (Time of possession).

12:52 pm: USF starts with good field position off of the kick return. Ben Williams gets a big run, and suddenly the Bulls are past midfield.

12:53 pm: What a catch by Cedric Hill. I thought Deunta Williams had the interception, but the huge tight end out jumps him for the ball.

After Ben Williams goes nowhere on first down, Grothe finally misfires on two passes, forcing the Bulls to kick a field goal. USF leads 17-3, but thankfully we’ve yet to allow this game to get out of reach. If we can get it together for the next two and a half quarters, the Heels could still get a win today.

12:58 pm: Brandon Tate has a chance for a big return, but he does WAY too much dancing around, and UNC will start on the 22.

1:00 pm: Anthony Elzy gets a decent gain on the swing pass, but he gets a big hit from Gachette, who hit so hard he has to to leave the game, at least temporarily, with a concussion.

1:01 pm: Yates finds Nicks again for a first down, but UNC has yet to make a big play in the passing game, save Nick’s run after the catch to get in field goal range.

1:02 pm: Nicks drops a pass that was right on his hands in stride. Fortunately, USF is caught offside.

1:03 pm: I know the bootleg didn’t go well, but why aren’t we using play-action yet? That run play was way too predictable.

1:04 pm: A big cornerback blitz catches Yates by surprise, and his pass was thisclose to being intercepted and returned for a touchdown. The Tar Heels have to punt.

1:11 pm: We are very fortunate, as Grothe nearly misses a deep pass downfield, and USF is called for holding on his big 3rd down run. Now we finally have a favorable 3rd down situation.

1:12 pm: Are you kidding me? Grothe finally gets some pressure, but he fires a bullet to the sidelines, and a wide receiver is there to catch, and juuuuuuuust get the first down. If we can’t stop these guys on 3rd and 15, our defense doesn’t stand much of a chance in this game.

1:14 pm: Kentwan Balmer is about to choke someone. He is angry at this defense.

1:15 pm: Grothe is finally forced to throw it away, at it brings up 4th down. Marvin Austin did a good job of pressuring the Bulls.

1:16 pm: This is the worst mistake that the Tar Heels could possibly make. The defense finally holds, and then the UNC punt team is caught offsides on 4th and 3, and now the defense has to get back on the field.

There are a lot of mistakes that UNC could make, but I have to believe that jumping offside on 4th down is the worst. You have to know the situation!

1:18 pm: Great. More arm tackling. USFkeeps advancing the ball.

1:22 pm: Finally, we finally get a sack on Matt Grothe. He is elusive.

1:23 pm: Way for Burney and Williams to break up the pass. They almost got an INT on that.

1:23 pm: FUMBLE! Wesley Flagg strips the ball as Grothe tries to run for the first, and Trimane Goddard recovers. Finally, the defense forces a turnover, and has something go their way as halftime approaches.

1:25 pm: INTERCEPTION! UNC commits yet another mistake at the worst possible time. Yates tries to get the ball to Foster, but Gachette intercepts the ball at the USF 40 yard line. The Tar Heels keep relinquishing any and all momentum that they’ve gotten in the first half.

1:27 pm: Grothe finds a wide open receiver in the middle, and he gets out of bounds inside the 20.

1:31 pm: USF kicks a field goal before halftime. The Bulls lead 20-3 and crank dat Soulja Boy. UNC doesn’t feel like dancing.

And we’ve hit halftime. If UNC wants any chance is coming back, 3 things need to happen.

  1. T.J. Yates needs to get back in a rhythm and get the passing game going. Of course, the receivers need to help him out on that.
  2. On defense, we need to finish the tackles that we start. USF is getting too much yardage after contact.
  3. NO MORE MENTAL MISTAKES! We’ve been beating ourselves more than anyone this season. I know this team is young, but we need a better presence of mind. There was no presence of mind with the 4th and three offsides, or with the second interception.

1:49 pm: Oh no…another Lou Holtz pep talk. Penn State is doomed.

2:04 pm: Rejoining the game a bit late. After UNC’s pffense opened with a punt, Grothe fumbled the ball, Hilee Tayolr recovered, and UNC is back in good field position.

2:06 pm: Just like that, T. J. Yates throws yet another interception. He now has 3 bad interceptions and 0 touchdowns. Fir the first time in his UNC career, Yates has the look of a QB who has only played 3 games in college and 14 games in his life.

2:08 pm: USF gets within field goal range after the interception return. they quickly go three and out, but make the field goal to make it 23-3, Bulls. Fortunately, UNC’s defense held to keep it a 3 score game. If Yates can get it together, he might be able to mount a comeback, but it looks like the South Florida secondary has just been too much for him to handle.

2;11 pm: Brandon Tate, one of our few bright spots today, gets another nice kick return, and UNC will start at the 39.

2:13 pm: You know that the Bulls defense is dominating this game when they nearly intercept a screen pass.

2:14 pm: T.J. Yates is sacked again, as absolutely no one is open downfield. The Tar Heels are forced to punt.

2:20 pm: Finally, UNC is making some big defensive stops. If not for Yates’ interceptions, it would still be a more manageable 17-3.

2:22 pm: I know that USF has a great defense, and I know that Yates has finally been flustered in this game. But throwing 4 picks in any game, including two to linebackers, is inexcusable.

After his first three games, UNC fans were talking big about T.J. Yates, myself included. The Tar Heel faithful felt that he was the best QB we’ve had since at least Durant, and he still could be that. But the fact remains that he’s very inexperienced, and we should have seen a bad game coming from him. Even so, I doubt that anyone expected it to be in this game, or for it to be quite this bad.

But no one, I repeat, NO ONE start calling for Mike Paulus to start next week. Yates has had three great games, he’s earned himself a leash of at least 3-5 bad games.

2:27 pm: USF drives down the field, get a fourth down conversion in the red zone, and Ben Williams powers his way 6 yards into the endzone. USF leads 30-3, and they have likely ended any chance the Heels have of coming back.

2:33 pm: FUMBLE! USF muffs the fair catch, Brooks Foster ensures the fumble, and the ball is recovered at the 16 by Ryan “Bacon”, as the ESPN guy called Mr. Baucom.

2:35 pm: Yates is sacked for the fourth time, but a facemask brings them to the 11, and Ryan Houston runs to set up a first and goal. Yet another freshman getting PT for the Heels.

2:37 pm: UNC will face third down, as USF leads 30-3 at the end of the third quarter. At his point, kicking another field goal does nothing, so I think that if the Heels face a fourth down inside the 10, they need to go for it. Even if they miss, the Bulls will have bad field position, and it’s not like we can make this situation any worse.

2:41 pm: I stand corrected: a false start. Why isn’t there a silent count?

Selvie goes through the line completely untouched, and USF now has 5 sacks.

2:42 pm: Yates throws a floater, Trae Williams breaks it up in the endzone, and UNC has to turn the ball over on downs. It was the right call to go for it, but it doesn’t make coming up empty any less painful.

2:43 pm: Out goes Grothe, who had a pretty good game today.

2:50 pm: UNC makes another defensive stop and forces a punt, But the Bulls down the punt at the 1 yard line. Even when they’ve done something wrong, they redeemed themselves pretty quickly.

2:58 pm: USF’s defensive pressure, even with a big lead, refuses to relent, and UNC is forced into a three-and-out. Nicks almost catches a deep pass, but the Heels have to punt.

3:06 pm: TOUCHDOWN! Another USF tailback rushes it in, and the Bulls take a 37-3 lead. There’s no point leaving Yates in now.

3:10 pm: Hey USF, throw us a friggin’ bone. Let Brandon Tate take a kickoff for a touchdown. No one would lower their opinion of you, and we would get some semblance of happiness in this otherwise miserable game.

3:12 pm: Wait…T. J. Yates is still in the game? Keeping him in accomplishes nothing. He doesn’t need the extra 4 minutes of experience, and he might get injured.

3:14 pm: I know it’s garbage time, but Ryan Houston isn’t looking half bad. He;s fighting through tackles and has an very quick first step.

3:15 pm: I give huge credit to South Florida’s defense, who completely dominated this game. I hope to never again see T. J. Yates’ jersey get this dirty.

3:18 pm: TOUCHDOWN! Ryan Houston ends our scoring nightmare, using power and agility to get in the endzone. UNC now trails 37-10, but Ryan Houston has officially thrown his name into our running back battle, and he’s showing signs for becoming a very good back.

3:24 pm:  It’s officially over: USF wins 37-10. I don’t anyone expected the Bulls to beat us quite this handily, but their defense really stepped up, in particular George Selvie. T. J. Yates never got into any rhythm, and threw for 4 interceptions today.  Two bright spots though:

  1. UNC’s defense showed, for about a 30 minute stretch, that they are capable of shutting down a good offense. They just need to do it for 60.
  2. Ryan Houston may finally solve our problems on the ground.

USF is a talented team, but this huge loss foreshadows what might happen in our next three games.

 

Just So You Know…

This is the quarterback that our defense has to face on Saturday. Matt Grothe is the 20006 Big East Freshman of the year, threw for 15 touchdowns, and is perhaps USF’s most athletic player regardless of position. He can do this:

And this:

UNC’s defense is in for their biggest challenge yet. Tune in for the live blog at noon Saturday.

UNC vs. Tennessee: Wow, I Just Had the Worst April Fools Joke Played on Me

Yesterday someone tried to pull the WORST April Fools joke on me. Last night I was watching last night’s women’s final four game between UNC and Tennessee, and I saw UNC gain a 12 point lead with about 8 minutes to go, and then Camille Little and Latoya Pringle fouled out on questionable calls. Then the Heels couldn’t buy a basket late, committed 29 turnovers for the game, and the Vols stormed back to win by 6. I can’t believe I almost fell for that joke! The game and the comeback was so believable until the Little foul, and the late turnovers. People are getting really good at this April Fools thing.

Wait…that really happened? Oh, crap.

Some thoughts from yesterday…

  • I said at some point in my liveblog that if Larkins couldn’t score, we were going to lose. With 8 minutes left, Larkins scored UNC’s last field goal of the game. I don’t remember her taking a good shot after that, scoring only 4 points for the game. Tennessee did a very good job of keeping her in check offensively, even though she had her normal monster day rebounding.
  • Rashanda McCants played the game of her life last night. 13 points, 50% FG shooting, 9 rebounds, 5 steals, a block and an assist. She seemed fairly ineffective during the regular season, seemingly not giving complete effort. I certainly can’t say that about last night. She will be very exciting to watch next year if she can have more games like that.
  • Both teams played exceptional defense last night. McCants, Latoya Pringle, Shannon Bobbitt and Nicky Anosike in particular played some of the best individual defense I’ve seen in quite some time, in men’s or women’s basketball. The Tennessee-Rutgers game should be a defensive clinic by both teams.
  • I don’t care how good you are. If you turn the ball over 29 times in a game, you can’t win. Although, Tennessee had 21 turnovers in their own right, bringing the game total to 50. Again, phenomenal defense by both teams.
  • Next year’s lineup, as I project it (assuming no freshmen): Larkins, Pringle, Jessica Breland, McCants, and Alex Miller in the starting lineup, with Iman McFarland and Heather Claytor getting substantial minutes off the bench. UNC will continue to emphasize the paint.
  • I will sorely miss seeing Ivory Latta and Camille Little in Carolina Blue. I will be rooting for them both in the WNBA. In particular, Latta is about to take that league by storm. You go girl!

ivory_latta2.jpgcamille_little2.jpg

UNC vs. Tennessee Live Blog: NCAA Women’s Final Four

Tonight UNC plays Tennessee in game 2 of the Final Four for the right to play Rutgers in the National Championship. The game can come down to who will dominate the paint. Candace Parker is the most talented player in America, but UNC has four players that can make big contributions inside. The Vols will likely need good three point shooting if Parker struggles. Ivory Latta will also need to come up big for the Tar Heels.

ivory_latta.jpg candace_parker.jpg

9:10 pm: I may not be a Dook fan, but Trey Wingo, why do you have to make Lindsey Harding relive that moment? No one should have to put up with that.

9:19 pm: Candace Parker’s boyfriend is Dookie Shelden Williams. Boooooo….

Tennessee has played a extremely well, but they haven’t been challenged by a good team in the tournament yet.

9:30 pm: 2-0, Tenn. Parker gets the games first points of the game on the free throw line.

9:32 pm: Neither team has shot the ball well so far. This game is a lot faster than the LSU-Rutgers game. However, it is also decidedly sloppier.

9:35 pm: Latoya Pringle is playing great defense, but she already has two fouls.

9:36 pm: 4-0, Tenn. Parker gets the first field goal of the game, a floater inside. Alex Miller had no chance.

9:40 pm: 5-0, Tenn. I have been shocked by 1) how well both teams have played defense and 2) how bad UNC is shooting. I think both teams have combined for 1 of 20 shooting.

9:41 pm: 5-2, Tenn. Hallelujah!!! Rashanda McCants scores a layup off a great pass by Latta to end the scoring drought of the Tar Heels.

9:46 pm: 7-6, Tenn. The Heels bring the lead down to 1, as Ivory Latta hits a jumper over 5’2″ Shana Bobbitt.

Official Timeout. 11:30 left. Latta has two fouls.

9:49 pm: 8-7, UNC. Latta scores again over Bobbitt, and UNC takes their first lead of the game.

9:51 pm: This game has been really sloppy so far. Give credit to the defense, but when there are more turnovers than points on the board, something’s wrong. Tennessee has just committed their second shot clock violation.

9:54 pm: This is not good. Ivory Latta has 3 fouls, and is forced to sit on the bench. Parker is on the bench with 2. Let’s see if Alex Miller can step up.

9:55 pm: 10-9, UNC. Larkins gives the great pass to Iman McFarland, who scores to give UNC the lead back.

Neither Larkins nor Little have scored yet.

9:56 pm: 12-9, UNC. Little finally gets on the board with a turnaround shot inside.

This game is a lot more physical than I expected. It’s going to take a lot of energy out of both of teams, which benefits Rutgers no matter who wins.

Official timeout. 7:17 left, first half.

9:59 pm: 12-12. How do you allow Sidney Spencer to get such an easy layup? Even worse, how do you commit such a bad foul afterwards?

10:01 pm: 14-12, Tenn. UPDATE: Total points: 26. Total turnovers: 23.

10:02 pm: 16-14, UNC. McCants scores to tie game, and LIttle gives UNC the lead.

10:03 pm: 17-16, Tenn. Shannon Bobbitt hits the three to give the lead back to the Lady Vols.

Both of these teams are spending a lot of energy trying to win this game.

10:06 pm: No matter who wins, you have to commend the effort given by both of these teams. 3:22 left, first half.

Latoya Pringle is playing insane defense right now.

10:10 pm: 18-17, UNC. Larkins hits two free throws to give the lead back to the Heels.

21-17, UNC. Who knew that Rashanda McCants would be our biggest offensive threat? She drains a three to bring the lead to four.

10:11 pm: 21-20, UNC. After being decleated on a Camille Little screen, Bobbitt hits a three from the baseline to cut the lead to 1.

10:12 pm: 22-21, Tenn. Great passing by Tennessee give them a open look inside to give the lead back to the Lady Vols.

UNC continues to turn the ball over. I know it doesn’t concern Sylvia Hatchell, but it really concerns me.

Suddenly Tennessee is getting all the rebounds! What the hell?

10:16 pm: Tennessee commits another shot clock violation near the end. Tennessee leads, 22-21 at halftime. The game was very, very sloppy, but that was in part because of both teams’ defensive hustle. Parker and Latta have both been ineffective in foul trouble. For UNC, they to take advantage of the opportunities that their defense gives them. That means making their inside shots and continuing to dominate the boards. Right C. Vivian Stringer is smiling, because both of these teams are spending a lot of energy trying to beat each other. Which team does that favor? Rutgers!

10:32 pm: Wow. I just looked up that guy from the Orbitz commercials, Wink Martindale, and only now do I find out that’s he’s an actual former game show host. You know, I actually wish I didn’t know that.

10:34 pm: 24-21, Tenn. Anosike hits a shot inside to start the second half. UNC continues to turn the ball over. I think they have 17 now.

10:36 pm: 26-21, Tenn. Candace Parker gets the basket and the foul on Erlana Larkins. A great play by Parker.

But that reminds me: Larkins has yet to hit a field goal in this game. If she doesn’t score, we lose. Simple.

10:39 pm: 27-24, Tenn. Ivory Latta hits a three, only our second of the game, making it a one possession.

10:40 pm: 27-26, Tenn. Larkins hits a tough layup inside, her first basket of the game.

Shannon Bobbit is decleated again on a screen, this time by Latoya Pringle. She may have gotten a concussion. These teams are starting to play this like a football game.

10:42 pm: 28-27, UNC. Little’s turnaround jumper rattles in, and UNC takes the lead back.

10:43 pm: First official timeout of the second half. If UNC wins, Pringle gets the game ball. Her defense has been vital to our staying in the game.

10:46 pm: 31-27, UNC. A great pass by Larkins, and Latta hits another three. The Heels have scored the last 10 points.

10:47 pm: 33-27, UNC. Another empty trip for Tennessee, and another basket for the Tar Heels, this time by Little. The lead is now six.

10:48 pm: 33-29, UNC. What a play by McCants to get the block and keep the ball in bounds! And Shannon Bobbitt feels…rejected!!! Words can hardly describe that insane play.

10:51 pm: 38-29, UNC. YYYYEEEEEAAAHHHH!!! More great defense by the Tar Heels, McCants in particular, leads to two straight easy baskets in transition, and UNC is blowing the doors open on this game, forcing Pat Summitt to take a timeout.

Da-da-da-DAAAA-da! U! da-da-da-da-da-da-DAAAA-da! N! da-da-da-da-da-da-DAAAA-da! C! da-da-da-da-da-da U-N-C!!! GO HEELS GO!!! da-da-da-da-da-da-da-Da! WHOOOOOO!!!!

10:53 pm: 38-31, UNC, 11:34 left. Official timeout. UNC is in control of the game right now, but they’re not out of the woods yet.

10:57 pm: 41-31, UNC. Miller’s three gets the lucky bounce, and UNC has the first double digit lead of the game. Meanwhile, Tennessee has only 9 points in as many minutes.

10:59 pm: 43-32, UNC. McCants has played absolutely lights out in this game. Which is strange, because I think she’s been dogging it for most of the season, not giving her full effort. But Rashanda has absolutely played the game of her life tonight.

11:00 pm: 43-34, UNC. The big blemish for us right now: fouls. Little has four, and Pringle and Latta each have three.

11:01 pm: 46-36, UNC. That’s what you want out of Latta! The drive, the basket, and the foul! WHOOOOOO!!!

11:02 pm: 48-36, UNC. Larkins drives inside against Anosike, and she gets the layup easily.

11:03 pm: 48-40, UNC. 7:13 left. UNC commits two straight turnovers, which lead to two straight baskets by the Vols. I hope the Heels don’t get sloppy with the ball and let their lead get away late.

11:07 pm: UNC commits another turnover, this time a shot clock violation. They can’t afford to come up empty on possessions late.

11:09 pm: I think we’ve lost the momentum we had earlier, as this game has returned to its previous sloppiness. If UNC doesn’t do something, this game could end the same way the men’s game ended against Georgetown.

Pringle picks up her fourth foul. I think God is punishing me for my hubris from about 20 minutes ago.

11:12 pm: 48-42, UNC. Camille Little fouls out on an offensive foul. I’m sorry but that call was bull. Spencer’s feet were moving. With five minutes to go, UNC is losing focus, and this game is feeling eerily like the men’s game against Georgetown.

11:14 pm: 4:35 left. Pringle fouls out as well. with time running out, it will be up to Jessica Breland to play alongside Larkins in the paint from now on.

11:16 pm: 48-46, UNC. Tennessee has scored the last 10 points. UNC hasn’t scored since Larkins hit the layup with 8 minutes left.

Final official timeout.

11:20 pm: 50-46, UNC. 3:43 left. Latta hits two free throws to extend the lead to 4.

11:22 pm: 50-48, UNC, 3:09 left. UNC is forced to take two straight timeouts. We now have only one left. This is not good. We are not executing well at all.

11:24 pm: McCants is hurt after missing a jumpshot. I know that Pringle and Little have fouled out, but we still need to drive inside.

11:26 pm: 50-50, 2:00 left. Anosike scores with a putback of her own miss. Anosike steals the ball on the next possession and Breland is forced to foul.

11:27 pm: 51-50, Tenn, 1:44 left. We still haven’t hit a field goal since the 8:00 mark. Anosikie hits one of two free throws to take the lead.

11:31 pm: 53-50, Tenn, :31 left. The Tar Heels look completely out of gas right now, but it’s hard to win when you commit 29 turnovers.

11:33 pm: 54-50, Tenn, :24.2 left. Latta’s three pointer hits the back iron, and Hornbuckle gets the rebound.

11:37 pm: The game ends, as Tennessee wins, 56-50. The Lady Vols outscore the Heels 20-2 to end the game, as UNC runs completely out of gas. This game ends freakishly the same way as the UNC-Georgetown game. The Tar Heels make a run to put themselves in control of the game midway through the second half. With seven and a half minutes left, the Tar Heels have the game in hand. But in the end, UNC looks completely out of sync, and the opponent gets a second wind out of their #55 center (in this case, Nicky Anosike). The Vols play great defense down the stretch, make all of their free throws, and UNC completely runs out of gas. It’s a shame to see the careers of Ivory Latta and Camille Little end this way; they’re two of the best players ever to don Carolina blue. Latoya Pringle played absolutely shutdown defense, and Rashanda McCants had the game of her life. But UNC was too sloppy the whole game, and they couldn’t buy shot late because, just like the men, they deviated from their inside game. The season was successful as a whole, and UNC gave a great effort even as the game was lipping away. But it is truly sad to see Ivory Latta, the best player in UNC Women’s basketball history, end her career short of a title.

I’ll be live blogging the National Championships on Monday and Tuesday on Digital Headbutt. I am definitely rooting for Rutgers, but I’m torn on the men’s matchup. Do I choose dignity and root for the Gators, or do I choose infamy, watch Ohio State win, and lose in my bracket challenge to a penny? I can;t believe I’m actually thinking about this one.l

UNC is Number 8? What the Hell!

This week, UNC was ranked #8 by the AP and ESPN men’s basketball posts. What?!? What’s the logic in this? I understand that we have 5 losses. But we were previously #5, a lot of teams around us in the rankings (Florida, Wisconsin, Pittsburgh) lost games, and our loss was on the road, in conference, to a 22-7 Maryland team who is now ranked in the AP poll. Seriously, #8? Behind the Memphis Tigers, who play in one of the weakest conferences in Division I? The pollsters must have had their minds warped. Like these guys:

(Yes, this is an excuse to post a bizarre Japanese clip.)

On the other hand, Joe Lunardi still has us as a #1 seed in the NCAA, which surprised me, to be honest. I think we still need to win out the rest of the season and make the finals of the ACC tournament to guarantee a #1 seed. But if the committee thinks we’re still worthy, I’m not complaining.

UPDATE (3/2): This post was made under the assumption that we wouldn’t lose to Georgia. But our defense decided to see a Lil’ Jon show in Atlanta while the Yellow Jackets absolutely lit the Heels up. WHAT?!?! So forget what I just said.