Kenan Stadium Update: New Lights Yay!

Kenan Stadium was purty to begin with, but this season’s upgrades make it ready for its close-up. First it was the Football center; now…LET THERE BE LIGHT!

I attended both of the last two games at Kenan when the lights went out (Marshall 2000, UConn 2008; at the Marshall game they even kept playing!), and I have to admit those games were fun in their own way. But hey, aint nothin’ wrong with being all fancy lookin’.

(Photo from Tar Heel Fan)

Photos: Kenan Football Center Renovation Nearly Complete

And I have to say that it looks very, very nice.

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.


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.

Previewing UNC vs. South Carolina

Five ways for UNC to pull off the upset:

  • If Anthony Elzy has a big day. Carolina now finally has an established running back in Elzy, who has 169 rushing yards, over 200 total yards, and 2 touchdowns in his last two games. Keep in mind that these stats were against two tough defenses in Virginia Tech and Miami. The Heels will need him to have a big day against the Gamecocks; while they’re #1 in the nation in pass defense, they’re also 99th in run defense.
  • If T.J. Yates doesn’t spend most of the game on his back. T.J. Yates first three games at QB: 58 for 88, 902 yards, 9 TDs, 3 interceptions, 5 sacks. His next three games: 42 for 75, 485 yards, no TDs, 5 interceptions, 12 sacks. Yates has steadily improved over the time frame of three games, and he didn’t turn the ball over against Miami. However, he can’t be very effective as a quarterback when he’s constantly under. If he gets time to throw from his young offensive line, he’ll be able to do what he did best early in the season: throw to his three main receivers (Tate, Nicks, and Foster) in position to get yards after the catch.
  • If the defense can stop South Carolina’s offense from getting momentum. In each of UNC’s last three losses, the Tar Heels were forced to play from behind the entire game because their defense let the opposing offense score a touchdown on their first drive. In two of those games, they were in essence the only offense touchdown the team would score and thus the difference in the game. (I’m counting VT’s second half touchdown as a defensive touchdown, since Xavier Adibi returned a Yates interception to the 4 yard line before Brandon Ore punched it in.)

And that starts on the defensive line. Hilee Taylor, E.J. Wilson, Kentwan Balmer, and Marvin Austin are capable of controlling the line of scrimmage. If they’re effective in stopping the run and pressuring Chris Smelley, the entire defense can be effective.

  • If UNC can win the turnover battle. In UNC’s two wins, their turnover margin is +4, including forcing 4 turnovers against Miami (5 if you include “Quantavius Sturdivant”‘s punt block). In their 4 losses, the TO margin is -7. UNC’s offense will need to take care of the ball, while players in the secondary such Deunta Williams will need to take advantage of any mistakes that Smelley makes in the game.
  • If UNC can perform well on special teams. Connor Barth has yet to miss a field goal this season. Brandon Tate is one of the best kick and punt returners in the nation; he’ll need to have a good game, if not for scoring then for field position. As stated before, the blocked punt by Sturdivant became the difference in last week’s game against the Hurricanes.

Five ways that the Tar Heels can lose this game:

The exact opposite of the preceding five points.

Five players who must come up big for the Heels today:

  • Elzy. See above.
  • Sturdivant. Not only has he been an essential special teams player, he’s established himself as UNC’s linebacker of the future, playing well in his last few games alongside Durell Mapp.
  • Jermaine Strong/Tavores Jolly. Kendric Burney has solidified himself at one side of the defensive secondary, but the other side was left open after Kendric Willams tore his ACL against Virginia Tech. Strong played well against Miami before shoulder issues set in. Jolly stepped in for the second half and got absolutely burned in the third quarter, responsible for at least two of Miami’s four touchdowns. The first touchdown was the result of a Jolly holding penalty in the endzone, and it was Jolly who got burned on Darnell Jenkins’ 97 yard touchdown. Talk about a baptism by fire. If neither of them can come through, we may see a lot of nickelback Charles Brown in this game.
  • The guys at the line of scrimmage. If our offensive and defensive lines lose the battle in the trenches, we’ll lose. It’s simple.
  • Hakeem Nicks and Brooks Foster: They have a responsibility to keep Yates off the turf as well. If they can’t get open, the result will be a lot of coverage sacks for the Gamecocks. UNC’s passing offense also depends on the receiver’s ability to get yards after the catch.

Five players to watch for South Carolina:

  • Chris Smelley. He’s SC’s quarterback because he’s able to manage a game and, unlike Blake Mitchell not make big mistakes. If he has time, he’ll have a good day throwing the ball against a non-SEC defense.
  • Cory Boyd. UNC’s defense has struggled against the run in earlier games. Boyd is the best running back they’ve seen yet. If the front seven can’t keep him in check, the Tar Heels are in for a long game.
  • Eric Norwood. He’s the centerpiece of the Gamecocks’ top defense, an excellent defender against the run and the pass. He was responsible for two key touchdowns on fumble returns against Kentucky last week.
  • Ryan Succop. He’ll be doing double-duty today as kicker and punter, and he’s among the best in the SEC at both.
  • Captain Munnerlyn. His name alone is enough, but he’s also the anchor of South Carolina’s secondary and kick return units.

People are trying to make a big deal out of Spurrier returning to Kenan Stadium for the first time since his Duke team crushed UNC 41-0 in 1989. I actually don’t care much about it, as it was before my time; Florida State is far more likely to draw my eternal football ire*. This is more about pulling off the big upset as establishing the Tar Heels as a team on the rise.

As always, stay tuned for the live blog at 3:30 pm.

*No, I still haven’t forgiven the Seminoles for that cold November might 10 years ago.

Men, In This Can Lies The Solution To All Of Our Problems!


Our record says 2-4, and our statistics are roughly at where a 2-4 team should be (50th nationally on defense, 84th on offense). However, I can point to three plays this season–one in each game–that could have made us 5-1 if they played out differently.

All we had to do was not fumble.

  1. Fourth Quarter, about 10 minutes left. UNC is driving to score against the Pirates, game tied at 31. Hakeem Nicks catches a pass and runs to a first down at the 34. but he fumbles the ball, and ECU recovers. If he holds on to that ball, the continuing drive would have almost certainly led to a score. if UNC scores a touchdown or a field goal, ECU’s final drive is to go for the tie. UNC’s defense holds its own in the red zone, as they have the entire second half, and hold on to win. TheTar Heels are now 2-0.
  2. Fourth Quarter, eight minutes left. UNC is driving, down 22-14 to UVa. Yates completes a pass on 2nd and 4 to Zack Pianalto who gets a first down inside the 35. But the ball comes clean out on a fumble, and UVa. recovers. If he holds onto that ball, UNC would have gotten themselves at least in field goal range. Yate’s touchdown pass to Quinn with less than two minutes left gives UNC a 23-22 win. The Tar Heels are now 3-0, 1-0 in the ACC.
  3. Third Quarter, three minutes left. UNC is at the 5 yard line. It’s second and goal, the Heels are down 10-3, and they looked poised to tie the game. They hand the ball off to Ryan Houston, who is stopped at the 5 yard line comes flying out of his arms into the endzone. If he does nothing else but hold on to the ball, or even the Heels outhustle the Tech defense to the loose ball, UNC is almost assured of points in that drive. With a score, Yates doesn’t throw that interception to Xavier Adibi, and Carolina hangs on for a close victory on the heels of a great defensive performance. The Tar Heels are now 4-1, 2-0 in the ACC.

Other plays which could have turned the tide:

T.J. Yates’ botched snap: If he finishes the 2nd down play on the final drive, UNC gets a first down and continues running down the clock; UNC, not ECU, gets the game-winning FG as time expires.

Chris Long’s interception: That was a freak play, that required unbelievable athleticism on the part of long. Without the INT, the score remains 19-14, and UNC’s last-minute TD wins the game.

Eddie Royal’s reverse: on Virginia Tech’s very first play from scrimmage, their offense caught the Heels defense red-handed in overpursuit, running the reverse for 50-plus yards down the right sidelines to set up their only offensive touchdown of the day. Without that play, it’s the Hokies coming from behind the entire game.

One final statistic: in these games, UNC’s turnover margin was -5 (7 giveaways, 2 takeaways).

In each of these games we were one, or at the most two, plays away from victory. With those victories, UNC would be 5-1, 3-0 in the ACC, and 1st place in the Coastal division.

Now, the vast majority of these players have less than 300 collegiate plays from scrimmage under their belts, so they have a lot to learn. The Tar Heels have played their hearts out all season, and have improved some facet of their play in every game. The mere fact they were competing in all of these games shows that strides that Carolina has made in 2007. Also there are many, many other areas in which the Tar Heels need to improve. However, this exercise shows how much the outcome of a game, or even a season, can change with one play, especially turnovers. At some point in the next few years (or even this year), The Heels will be making those kinds of plays instead of giving them to opponents.

We’ll need a lot of stickum for when Spurrier and the #7th ranked Gamecocks come to Chapel Hill on Saturday.

UNC vs. Miami Live Blog

Today, Butch Davis faces his former team for the first time. Miami’s last appearance in Chapel Hill resulted in a 31-28 upset by the Tar Heels, which was Connor Barth’s crowning moment…

…and sent Miami into a downward spiral from the national football picture. Under Randy Shannon, they hope to return to prominence.

The Hurricanes are 4-1 but have not always looked impressive this season. UNC, conversely, are off to a 1-4 start on the season, but they might be 3 plays away from 4-1. This game could be an upset special, assuming the the defense can pressure a struggling Kyle Wright, T.J. Yates can have a good game through the air, and we can have some semblance of a running game. What’s most important, however, is not to have ill-timed turnovers. That’s killed us this year.

12:02 pm: The student section is loud to start the game, but I have to say it; the navy blue in the endzone looks out of place.

12:03 pm: Tate takes the kickoff to the 35 yard line.

Anthony Elzy is the starting back today.

12:04 pm: Miami forces a 3-and-out, sacking Yates on third down. He stood no chance against the blitz, and that’s the 16th sack of the season that the Tar heels have allowed.

12:06 pm: The Tar Heels go on defense. Marvin Austin starts at DT, and he already has a tackle in the backfield. Jermaine Strong is at CB, replacing the injured Kendric Williams.

12:07 pm: The Tar Heels force a 3-and out of their own, looking pretty impressive on defense. After the punt, UNC will start at the 29.

12:10 pm: Elzy gets the call on first down, but he can’t get around the outside.

12:11 pm: There’s that “eating an elephant” quote again.

12:12 pm: Yates finally gets time to throw, and he fires a bullet up the middle. Joe Dailey makes the catch at midfield.

12:13 pm: TOUCHDOWN! Elzy takes the ball, shakes a couple of defenders on the right side, and he outruns everyone else into the endzone! What a play by Elzy, and UNC leads 7-0 off of UNC’s biggest run of the season. Finally a running game, and UNC has their first lead since the first half against East Carolina.

12:17 pm: That run may have earned Elzy the starting spot at tailback. I cannot emphasize how awesome that was.

12:18 pm: Miami takes the ball out of the endzone, but UNC gang tackles the returner at their own 8. UNC really has momentum right now.

12:19 pm: Lance Leggett makes the catch on first down, but runs his way out of a first down, Another 3-and-out, and for the first time, it looks like UNC can take a game by the horns. The Heels will begin with great field position.

12:21 pm: Elzy gets it again, and he gets 6 or seven yards to the right side.

Another carry, but this timeMiami stops it for only a short game. 3rd and 2.

12:22 pm: Yates’ pass is incomplete. Goog coverage by the defense, but Quinn should have had that ball. UNC is going to go for it.

12;23 pm: UNC converts on foruth down with a quick pass to Tate. They’re now at the Miami 35.

12:24 pm: Oh! Tate very nearly has the touchdown catch, but he can’t get both hands on it.

12:25 pm: Yates very nearly throws an interception on third down, but Miami is called for a very questionable roughing the passer call. I didn’t see a roughing at all, but UNC is now at the 20.

12:26 pm: UNC’s playcalling is a bit too predictable right now; they’re over-relying on Elzy, and the Miami defense has already adjusted.

12:28 pm: Yates tries a little trickery, faking two handoffs before a screen pass. Elzy gets to the 16, but well short of a first down.

12:29 pm: Barth gets the field goal–holy crap, there are bleachers in the fieldhouse endzone!–and UNC takes a 10-0 lead.

12:32 pm: Ryan Hill takes the kickoff, and he runs all the way to midfield. Matt Merletti saves the touchdown.

12:33 pm: UNc goes offsides, but their real mistake is quitting on the play before the whistle. Miami takes advantage , and the get a 31 yard pass into the red zone out of it. Again, a big mistake by this young team.

12:35 pm: Miami runs a draw, and Kendric Burney gets a huge tackle for loss on the cutback.

12:36 pm: Leggett Catches short of the first down, but he fumbles. Fortunately for Miami, it goes out of bounds.

12:37 pm: Zambonia misses the field goal! UNC still leads 10-0, and for seemingly the first time this season, one of our mistakes doesn’t come back to bite us.

12:38 pm: UNC is driving again. Elzy gets the first down on the run, and then Yates finds a wide open Hakeem Nicks, who gets big yards after the catch to the Miami 36.

12:40 pm: Elzy is stuffed on first down. Yates tries a screen pass to Tate, but it goes nowhere.

12:41 pm: Yates has to throw a better ball. Nicks is wide open for a catch and run, but it’s thrown behind him. Fourth down.

12:42 pm: Barth tries the 51-yard field goal…and he makes it! UNC leads 13-0, and it looks like they’re poised to dominate this game.

12;43 pm: Barth would really rather not get another big return, and he makes a high, short kick that’s fair caught at the 32.

12:44 pm: E. J. Wilson and “Quantavius Sturdivant” make the tackle way behind the line of scrimmage to end the first quarter. UNC leads, 13-0 after one quarter, and for the this team looks like they’re playing to their potential a bit earlier than expected.

12:48 pm: Wright scrambles for a few yards, but Miami still faces third and 7.

12:49 pm: Jermaine Strong makes the big hit on Leggett to stop him short of the sticks and force another 3-and-out.

12:50 pm: BLOCK! THE OPUNT IS BLOCKED BY STURDIVANT! And UNC will have first down in the red zone.

Elzy is stuffed on first down, but he already has 80 yards today.

12:51 pm: Elzy takes the screen pass, and he gets to the four yard line.

Elzy gets the call again, but he’s short of the first down, at the 2. I like aggressive play, but I think UNC should take the field goal and make it a 3 score game.

12:53 pm: Colin McCarthy is down for Miami. He may have been concussed; he isn’t moving. I hope that he’s okay.

12:55 pm: McCarthy was able to walk on his own accord. Oh, and UNC is going for it.

12:57 pm: T.J. Yates takes the QB sneak, and he gets the first down, and commentator Ray Bentley gets a huge ego inflation.

12:59 pm: Another Miami player is down. He looks substantially less okay; he’s being carried off the field.

1:00 pm: TOUCHDOWN! Yates takes the sneak again, and he’s in the endzone. The Tar Heels lead 20-0 after the extra point, and are in complete control of this game in the first half. Simply incredible.

1:04 pm: Miami takes the kickoff, and they have good field position again.

Wright had the pass up the middle to Leggett, but he overthrew it just a hair.

1:05 pm: Darnell Jenkins makes the short catch, and Miami now only faces 3rd and short.

1:06 pm: Wright misfires again. Miami is now 0 for 5 on third downs today.

1:07 pm: Perfectly timed pass to Hakeem Nicks, but the pass is called incomplete. How is that not a catch?

1:08 pm: Butch Davis is challenging the ruling that the pass was incomplete.

1:10 pm: Miami is down 20-0…and yet their team is dancing. Granted the song is catchy, but still.

1:11 pm: Things keep going UNC’s way; the call is reversed, and it’s a complete pass at the 46.

1:12 pm: TOUCHDOWN! TOUCHDOWN! Tate runs the end-around to perfection, he gets great blocks downfield and he outruns everybody to the endzone! UNC leads, 27-0, and we’re not yet midway through the second quarter. It’s been at least six years since they’ve dominated a game like this.

1:17 pm: After UNC is called offside, Miami gets is first true first down with a dump-off pass.

1:19 pm: Good discipline by the UNC defense, staying at home for the cutback.

1:20 pm: Jenkins catches just beyond the sticks, and Miami makes their first third down conversion of the game.

Cooper takes the ball for a nice gain. It looks like the Hurricanes are finally driving the ball.

1:22 pm: SACK, MARVIN AUSTIN! Man watching him is fun. He went through the line untouched.

Wright waits until the very last second before running the draw, and Cooper takes through the line and for a first down.

1:23 pm: INTERCEPTION! Wright throws it right into the arms of Durell Mapp. UNC ball.

1:28 pm: UNC is called for clipping, which is about the first bad thing to happen to the Tar Heels today.

1:30 pm: On 3rd and 19, Yates gets enough time to find Dailey up the middle for a first down. What a play, and Joe has come up with two huge catches today.

1:33 pm: What a run by Greg Little, who breaks three or four tackles before getting close to another first down.

1:34 pm: Houston gets the call, and he bounces to the outside for 5-6 yards. UNC’s running game really showed up today.

1:35 pm: Yates rolls out to the right side, but he can’t find anyone open, and he settle for the short run. Fourth down, and UNC will settle for another 50 yard FG attempt. Two minutes left in the first half.

1:37 pm: The Tar Heels go for it on foruth down again! This time is fails, and Miami takes over on downs.

1:38 pm: Wright is very lucky that was called an incompletion and not a fumble. UNC only rushed four, but they they still got to the QB.

1:39 pm: INTERCEPTION! Wright overthrows it, and Deunta Williams is there to make the pick. Miami will head to the locker room with a big, fat goose egg.

1:41 pm: Johnny White gets the call, and he fights his way to a first down, after being “tackled” five yards out.

1:42 pm: it’s halftime, and UNC leads 27-0. The Tar Heels are absolutely dominating every facet of this game. It’s great to see this team put it all together and take over a game like this.

2:04 pm: We’re into the second half. Miami has the ball to start. Kyle Wright is still in the game.

2:05 pm: Great stat today: UNC has outrushed Miami 162-19 in the first half.

2:06 pm: A big catch and run by Fogg, and Miami is now in field goal range. Not very good pursuit on UNC’s part.

2:08 pm: Wright finally has time, and he finds Sam Shields at the 1 yard line.

TOUCHDOWN. Kyle Wright sneaks into the endzone, and Miami gets on the board withing 2 and a half minutes of the game’s resumption. 27-7, UNC.

2:12 pm: UNC needs to respond with a score of their own. If they go 3-and-out, then Miami gets all the momentum back.

2;13 pm: Elzy takes the ball on first down, and he gets five yards.

2;14 pm: FUMBLE! Elzy fumbles the ball, and Miami recovers with great field position. Yet another ill-timed fumble for UNC, and Miami now has everything set up to come back in this game. We played great for 30 minutes; it only took us 4 minutes to come close to throwing it away.

2:17 pm: Wright goes for the endzone, and gets a pass interference and a first down. The feel of this game has completely changed, and I’m starting to feel a sense of doom. Unfortunately, UNC still hasn’t quite proven themselves in these situations.

2:19 pm: UNC’s defense holds, but Miami is going for it on fourth down.

2:20 pm: TOUCHDOWN. Wright finds Leggett in the endzone for the score. Zambonia miss the XP, but Miami scored two touchdowns in less than seven minutes, and we have yet to convert a first down. There’s clearly a slight sens of dread. IS UNC going to throw away a potential victory aqain? 27-13, UNC.

2;24 pm: Hakeem Nicks makes the short catch on first down, but he’s slow to get up. We can;t afford an injury right now.

2:26 pm: Yates runs the pass on third and short. He hits a floater to Elzy past midfield for a big first down. The hit Elzy took, however, was big enough to break his helmet. Ryan Houston thus steps into the RB position by necessity.

2:27 pm: SACK! Yates had no chance, as Miami anticipated the screen.

2:28 pm: Yates throws deep on third and long, but Tate is double covered, and UNC is forced to punt. They’re very lucky that wasn’t intercepted.

2:29 pm: Quniton person makes a huge play on the punt, taking down Kenny Cooper at the 3 yard line. Miami will start in the shadow of their own endzone. Maybe that’s what our defense will need to make a big stop.

2:32 pm: Wright goes for the deep ball, but he overthrows it.

2:33 pm: TOUCHDOWN! Wright goes deep again, and this time Darneel Jenkins goes 97 yards for the score. As Miami cuts the lead to 27-20, I have one question: What is Tavores Jolly doing still on the field?

2:38 pm: UNC gets a three-and-out, and they have to punt again. After UNC did everything right in the first half, now they’ve done everything wrong. But I want to know where this Miami team was in the first half.

2;40 pm: If Miami completes the comeback, I cannot be held responsible for my actions.

2:41 pm: What’s Tavores Jolly doing still in the game? He’s the guilty party for Miami’s last two touchdowns. Fortunately, Hilee Tayor gets a big sack on third down and Miami is forced to punt. Finally, some semblance of control in this game.

2:43 pm: A huge run by Brandon Tate, and that’s exactly what we need! Yates fires to Tate, breaks a tackle, and runs 49 yards with one shoe. UNC is now within scoring distance, with a chance to bring it back to a two score game.

2:44 pm: Yates finds Quinn, and he’s close to another first inside the 20.

2;45 pm: If you had told me before the game that UNC would be leading 27-20 after 3 quarters, I would have taken it without hesitation. But game’s aren’t played on paper, and this must be the worst-feeling fourth quarter lead in history.

2:48 pm: Man. That was a nightmare of a third quarter. Let’s hope we play better in the fourth.

2:49 pm: Yates pump fakes one time too many, and his scramble is short of a first down. But Connor Barth gets the field goal, and UNC retains a 30-20 lead to start the fourth quarter.

2:52 pm: A really, really bad pass on first down. That’s the Kyle Wright we know and love.

2:53 pm: The collander that was the Miami offensive line now isn’t letting any pass rush through. Still, Wright misses on second down, setting up 3rd and 10. After a false start penalty, the crowd is back in the game.

2:54 pm: Wright is given infinite time again, and this time he fires it for a first down.

2:55 pm: Could someone please tell me what Jermaine Strong did wrong for Tavores Jolly to still be playing in his stead?

2:56 pm: INTERCEPTION! Quantavius Sturdivant catches the tipped pass, and it could not have come at a better time for the Tar Heels.

2;57 pm: Yates finds Nicks open to the right, and UNC has a first down at the Miami 25.

Elzy gets the call again, and he has a short gain up the middle.

2:58 pm: Tate gets the handoff again, and he runs behind the O-line and gets a first down on the left side. First and 10 at the 11.

2:59 pm: UNC tries Elzy again, but he can’t find the outside.

3:00 pm: Timeout, UNC. If they score on this drive, especially a touchdown, the Heels may actually survive one of the worst quarters I’ve ever seen them play.

3:03 pm: Yates is forced to scramble, but he can;t quite get the first down. Barth will kick a chip shot.

3:04 pm: The kick is good, and UNC leads, 33-20. Miami now must score two touchdowns to comeback. Can UNC’s defense hold?

3:07 pm: Javarris James gets the call, and he gets 9 yards.

3:08 pm: Unc is doing what we have now come to expect: bad arm tackling and allowing the opposing running game to take over.

3:09 pm: That’s just a lack of concentration. UNC gets two straight offsides penalties in a key drive.

3:11 pm: Kenny Cooper and the hurricanes are driving efficiently down the field. Maimi is now in the red zone. Eight minutes remaining.

3:12 pm: Wright fumbles the snap! the hurricanes recover, though.

3:13 pm: Wright tries to find james in the flat, but it’s incomplete.

Kyle Wright finds a huge hole in the scramble, and he comes very close to a first down. Undoubtedly, Miami will go for it on 4th and inches. How can UNC allow that scramble?

3:15 pm: Wright sneaks it for a first down. First and goal.

3:16 pm: INTERCEPTION! AND IT’S THE FOURTH PICK OF THE GAME! Charles Brown catches the ball as Wright throws it right at him, and UNC may well have saved this victory.

3:17 pm: Elzy gets the carry, and he gets a big first down for the Tar Heels, allowing them to run some more clock down.

3:18 pm: This time it’s Johnny White. UNC continues to run the ball efficiently. Now would be a very bad time for a fumble…and that’s exactly why it’s going to happen. It’s like, Murphy’s Law or something.

3:19 pm: Elzy runs on 3rd and 1, but Miami brings the all-out blitz to stuff him in the backfired. UNC will punt with 3:22 left, and UM takes a time out.

3:23 pm: After a delay of game, Carolina will pfrom the 22 yard line.

3;25 pm: NO! A great punt by Terence Brown, but Kenny Cooper pitches it to Darnell Jenkins, and he gets some huge blocks, going all the way to the UNC 11 before Trimane Goddard takes him down.

3:26 pm: Miami gets a holding call.

3:27 pm: E.J. Wilson with the sack, and Miami is forced to take a timeout with 2:33 left to play. The Hurricanes have a long way to advance the ball now.

3:29 pm: Miami runs another sneaky draw, and Carolina falls for it again. 3rd and 9.

3:30 pm: Why is UNC leaving the middle so insanely wide open? They almost allowed a touchdown there. 4th and 1, and Miami must convert.

3:32 pm: The Hurricanes run the sneak again, and Wright appears to have it. But he’s short of the endzone.

3:33 pm: Wright rolls out to the right, and he thinks he has a touchdown. But Hilee Taylor stuffs him just before the goalline, and Miami is forced to take their last timeout.

3:34 pm: TOUCHDOWN. James runs it up the gut, and he gets in the endzone. UNC leads, 33-27, and with 1:17 left Miami must convert the onside kick.

3:37 pm: Hakeem Nicks recovers the onside kick, and UNC has wrapped this game up!

3:38 pm: Carolina will just kneel it out.

3;39 pm: The game is over, and Carolina holds on to a 33-27 victory. Carolina played their best football all season in the first half, and they didn’t resign to fate after the horror show that was the third quarter. The Tar Heels get their first conference win, and it’s a relief to see this team’s efforts finally pay off. Miami is now 0-2 in Chapel Hill as an ACC team.

UNC vs. Virginia Live Blog

Today the Tar Heels open their ACC schedule hosting the Virginia Cavaliers. It’s very important for the Tar Heels to win this game, as they face four very tough opponents in the next four weeks. As for Virginia, Al Groh is already in trouble after a 5-7 season and an ugly start to 2007. A big loss to UNC could really hurt his chances of staying at UVA.

12:07 pm: Good to see Kenan Stadium at capacity just before kickoff.

12:10 pm: 30 seconds after the Apache helicopters flew over Kenan Stadium, they flew over my house. That was cool.

12:11 pm: The game is underway. UNC gets the ball, and Brandon Tate takes the kickoff to the 30 yard line.

12:12 pm: Virginia is running a 3-4 defense. Yates’ first pass is incomplete, and Johnny White takes the carry for four yards on second down. 3rd and 6.

12:13 pm: Yates pass is deflected at the line by Chris Long, and UNC is forced to punt. Great awareness by Long on that play.

12:14 pm: On UVA’s first play from scrimmage, Cedric Peerman runs through an open hole in the middle for 15 yards. I hope that the D-line doesn’t get embarrassed like that for the entire game.

12:17 pm: The Cavs convert on 3rd and 4, as Sewell is able to step up and fire a bullet to a receiver in the flat. We need to put more pressure on the QB. Already, Virginia is past midfield.

12:18 pm: Big mistake on Virginia’s part. A delay of game turns a 3rd and 6 into a third and 11.

12:20 pm: Peerman runs the draw on 3rd and long…and he gets the first down? terrible mistake on the defense’s part. the D-line got absolutely dominated on that play.

12:21 pm: Again the Cavs are forced into a third and long, again Sewell dumps it off to Peerman, and again the UNC defense gives him WAY too much room. First and goal at the 8.

12:22 pm: TOUCHDOWN! Peerman gets some nice blocks, and gets into the endzone with relative ease. Virginia leads 7-0 with 8:46 in the first quarter.

12:27 pm: UNC’s second possession isn’t going any better than the first. Yates fumbles the snap on first down, gets sacked on second down, and sacked on third down. Chris Long gets the sack to force 4th down. 3 plays, -10 yards.

12:29 pm: Terrance Brown has to punt again. After averaging over 50 yards per punt, both his punts today have been in the upper 30s. Virginia will get the ball in UNC territory, and this game is beginning to look like a few of the bad games the Heels had in 2006. Virginia is very much in control early.

12:32 pm: Peerman runs 17 yards to the 29 yard line, for another big first down. The Heels need to do something to stop the run; they’re letting the Cavs offensive line dictate this game.

12:33 pm: So far, the big thing that Virginia is doing wrong is committing bad penalties at wrong times. after a loss on first down, a big run by Pearman is negated by an illegal procedure.

12:35 pm: Jameel Sewell is forced into pass situation,s and after a near interception on third down, the Cavs settle for 50-yard field goal attempt. Chris Gould manages to hit the kick, and Virginia takes a 10-0 lead.

12:40 pm: What a catch by Tate! Yates is under pressure, throws the ball to the right, as Tate knocks the ball in the air before making a diving catch. Suddenly the Tar heels are is business at the UVA 49.

12:42 pm: Johnny White rushes for 6 yards on first down, but his next two rushes fall short of the first down. I’m not a big fan of that playcalling.

12;43 pm: What I am a fan of is UNC going for it on 4th and 1 at the 40 yard line. T. J. Yates takes the ball and sneaks it. Carolina gets the first down, but barely.

The first quarter ends. UNC is driving, but they’re already down 10-0. T.J. Yates has completed one pass so far; this has to change.

12:46 pm: NO! Just when it looks like we have some offensive momentum, Johnny Whites fumbles the ball on a big hit, and Virginia recovers, ending the drive.

12:48 pm: Peerman is still getting yardage, but it looks like the defensive line is finally holding their ground and preventing big yardage.

12:49 pm: But on 3rd down, Tom Santi gets the pass on the flat and runs for the first down. The Cavs are 4/5 on third down today.

12:52 pm: Another huge run by Peerman, who breaks several arm tackles before being brought down at around the 11 yard line. Our run defense is very frustrating to watch right now.

12:54 pm: The cavs get another big holding penalty, this time in the red zone. Two unsuccessful plays leads to a 3rd and 16. Peerman takes the pass, but his run falls short, and Virginia has to setlle for a field goal.

Virginia leads 13-0 in the 2nd quarter, and The Heels are very lucky that it’s not 17-0. The Heels absolutely need to get the pass game going and get a score on this next drive.

12:58 pm: The Tar Heels have scored a lot of points in their first two games. I know this is their first big opponent, but it looks like UNC has suddenly gone conservative. We haven’t taken any risks at all, and the plays have been very predictable.

1:00 pm: Yates gets a nice run on the scramble to bring up third and short, but Chris Long deflects another pass and force another punt for UNC.

1:02 pm: Attention John Shoop: Your strength is the passing game; your weakness is the running game. Why has T.J. Yates only thrown three time through 19 minutes of play?

1:03 pm: Peter Lalich is in at QB for the Cavs.

1:05 pm: Another drive, another third down conversion for the Cavs, who are 4/6 in 3rd down today, including 3/3 on third and less than 10 yards.

1:06 pm: The defense continues to yield to the Cavs offense, who already have over 200 yard of offense (compared to 59 for the Heels).

1:09 pm: Kenan Stadium seems abnormally quiet right now. Granted, they haven’t had anything to cheer about, but I was hoping they’d be a little louder.

1:11 pm: The good news is that the UNC defense has been able to hold their ground in the red zone. The bad news is that they’ve been practically helpless for the first 80 yards of the field. 16-0, Virginia, with still quite a bit of time left in the first half. We need to get on the board before heading to the locker room. UNC needs to pass on first down.

1:14 pm: Finally. UNC throws on first down, and they get a huge reception by Brooks Foster. The Heels are already near midfield.

1:15 pm: Yates nearly throws an interception on the next play. Brandon Tate does a god job of breaking up the pick. White nice a decent rush, but it’s 3rd and 6.

1:16 pm: Yates’ pass is deflected on 3rd down, and UNC punts again. At least we know know we can still make some big pass plays, and and Virginia finally gets bad field position. Can the Heels’ defense finally leave the Cavs empty-handed?

1:20 pm: Thanks in part to a nice play by Mark Paschal, UNC finally forces Virginia to punt. Brandon Tate gets a nice return, but it’s negated by a block in the back. UNC has two minutes to get on the scoreboard before halftime.

1:21 pm: Yates throws three quick passes, gets two quick first downs, and in 27 seconds and three plays the Heels get from the UNC 24 to the Virginia 41 yard line.

1:24 pm: The Cavs bring huge pressure up the middle, and Yates has to get rid of it. Third down.

1:25 pm: Yates hits Brooks Foster up the middle and he gets to the 33 yard line for the first down.

1:26 pm: After a short gain, Hakeem Nicks receives a late hit from a Virginia player. This gets the Heels in the red zone for the first time in the game. Hakeem Nicks looks banged up though.

1:27 pm: Zach Pianalto gets the leaping catch, and UNC is inside the 10 with 51 seconds to go.

1:28 pm: T.J. Yates throws the ball right to a Virginia defensive back, and only Hakeem Nicks prevents the interception.

1:29 pm: Richie Rich gets the first down on the ground, but his next run goes nowhere. UNC takes their final timeout with 30 seconds left.

UPSET ALERT: Mississippi State 10, Auburn 0.

1:31 pm: TOUCHDOWN CAROLINA! Yates manages to fake out Chris Long, and he finds an open Hakeem Nicks in the end zone. Carolina finally gets on the board, trailing 16-7 just before halftime.

Senior center Scott Lenahan was hurt earlier in the game, and he might not come back.

1:34 pm: Virginia is content to take a kneel, and we’ve reached halftime. Virginia leads, 16-7 and has looked impressive on both sides of the ball today. I was disappointed in UNC’s performance for the fir 20 minutes of the game, but it looks like the Heels finally woke up and the end of the second quarter. They clamped down on defense, and the passing game has started to click again. They have the momentum going into the locker room, and they’re still very much in this game, But they’ll need to prove they can stop Cedric Peerman in the second half, and force the QBs to make some bad throws.

1:41 pm: Some halftime stats: Cedric Peerman has 98 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries. T. J. Yates was 7 of 9 for 53 yard and a touchdown on UNC’s final drive before halftime; before that drive, he was 2 of 7 for 42 yards.

1:56 pm: The lines to the restrooms and concession stands must be insufferable. Otherwise, there’s no excuse for the empty seats I’m seeing at the start of the second half (which were full at the start of the game, by the way).

1:59 pm: Jameel Sewell is flushed out of the pocket on third down, but he manages to juke his way to a first down.

2:00 pm: Another huge run by Peerman, and now he’s well over 100 yards rushing today.

2:01 pm: Hilee Taylor gets the sack and forces a fumble. Taylor can’t come up with ball, and Virginia recovers. It would have been a first down, but UNC is called for a late hit. I disagree with that call. The ball was fumbled, and they were trying to get to the ball. Still a UNC makes a very costly mistake; depending on what happens in the rest of this drive, that one mistake could be the one that costs us the game.

2:04 pm: After UNC’s costly penalty, the Cavaliers and their running game is driving down the field, already down to the 21 yard line. The Heels need to make a stop.

2:06 pm: Cedric Peerman gets another first down on the ground, and now the Cavs are inside the 15.

2:08 pm: When the UNC defense needed a stop, they stepped up big time. Two sacks, a loss of 16 yards, and fourth down at the 25.

2:09 pm: After a delay of game penalty, Chris Gould’s 47 yard kick falls short. The defense manages to leave Virginia empty handed, but not before the Cavs offense takes more than 8 minutes off the clock. Can our offense regain their momentum from the end of the first half?

2:12 pm: On replay, it looks like the field goal was good. The play is under review. I await the barrage of boos.

2:14 pm: Upon review, the field goal was good. Virginia leads, 19-7. Not good news for the Tar Heels, who already have to overcome the long break.

2:16 pm: In case you’re keeping score, it has been exactly 45 minutes of real time since the UNC offense has taken the field. They are ice cold right now. And it shows, as T. J. Yates’ first down pass is way, way short for Hakeem Nicks.

2:17 pm: Johnny White runs up the middle, and he gets 11 yards and a first down. Finally a nice gain on the ground.

2:18 pm: On 2nd down, Yates just barely gets off a dump to Bobby Rome. He’s ioen, but he drops the ball. A big mistake.

2:19 pm: What a play by Brooks Foster, who makes the catch for the first down, managing to kepp hold of the ball after being hit by two defensive backs.

2:20 pm: TOUCHDOWN CAROLINA! Hakeem Nicks makes a huge catch down the middle, and he makes the greatest run after the catch that I may have ever seen out of a Tar Heel. He jukes out two defenders, sprints to the left side, and fights his way through two tackles inside the 10 yard line. His effort pays of, as he gets the touchdown, the crowd goes absolutely insane, and Carolina gets back every ounce of momentum in this game. Virginia still leads 19-14, but suddenly they look like they may be on the ropes.

2:25 pm: Lalich comes back at QB for the Cavs. He is immediately welcomed back by E. J. Wilson and Durell Mapp, a sack for a 5 yard loss.

2:27 pm: Inman drops the pass on third down, and the Cavs go three and out. UNC will get the ball back and a chance to take the lead. The crowd, and the Heels, are definitely back in this game.

2:28 pm: An eight yard run by Johnny White to start the drive. Watch out for the play action.

2:29 pm: White gets the call again, and he gets the first down.

2:30 pm: A dangerous pass by Yates acroos the field (a defender could easily pick that off), but Pianalto gets the catch.

Pianalto makes the catch again, and the Tar Heels get another first down.

2:31 pm: Virginia brings the blitz on that play, and the screen goes nowhere. \

The third quarter is over, and Virginia leads 19-14, but UNC’s comeback has given them huge momentum going into the final period.

Yates is 14/23 for 168 yards and 2 touchdowns.

2:35 pm, 14:48 left: Yates delivers on another pass, this time to Brandon Tate for another first down.

2:36 pm, 14:03 left: INTERCEPTION! Chris Long times his jump perfectly, intercepts Yates’ pass in mid-air, and returns it inside the UNC 30. Virginia is back in some control of this game, thanks to a Julius Peppers-like play by Chris Long. Dammit!

2:38 pm, 12:32 left: After a holding penalty, Jameel Sewell fires a bullet for 18 yards and a first down. A decent run by Peerman brings the ball to the 13 yard line.

2:40 pm: UNC had that tackle, but Trimane Goddard gets nothing but air, and the Cavs get first and goal at the 8.

2:41 pm, 11:00 left: Another holding call against Virginia, and they have to go back to the 18.

2:42 pm, 9:55 left: That’s the 9th penalty for the Cavs. If UNC ends up winning this game, it will be at least in part because Virginia has left the door open with their mistakes.

2:44 pm, 8:56 left: Gould has to kick another field goal in the red zone. Virginia leads, 22-14. For the Tar Heels, a touchdown and two point conversion will now tie this ball game. Yates will have a chance to redeem himself after the Long interception.

2:47 pm: An inexcusable play for the Tar Heels on that play. They can;t field the ball at the 25-30 yard line, but the ball goes right past the coverage, and Greg Little fields it before being tackled at the 6. A false start pins them back to the 3.

2:49 pm, 8:25 left: A big pass by Yates to Brooks Foster, who takes the slant pass in stride and runs it to the 25.

2:50 pm, 8:08 left: Yates fires another quick pass to Foster, he makes a bunch of defensive backs miss, and he runs down the left sidelines all the way to the UVA 39 yard line.

2:51 pm, 7:04 left: NO! Pianalto makes the catch, but he fumbles the ball away to the Cavaliers. That was about the worst thing that could happen to the Heels. They’ were building some momentum on a huge drive, and they were about to score, and then they give the ball away. Turnovers have ruined 3 good drives today, and that will easily be the difference if the Heels lose this game. 3 turnovers by Carolina compared to no Virginia turnovers is inexcusable.

2:54 pm, 6:49 left: now the Heels need a big defensive stop. Any score, or the team running out the clock, would end any chances we have.

2:56 pm, 5:42 left: Sewell got nailed as he released the ball, but the receiver makes the big catch for a gain of 14 yards and a first down.

2:57 pm: Trimane Goddard is down. Hopefully he just got the wind knocked out of him.

2:59 pm, 4:45 left: SACK! Hilee Taylor gets credited for the sack, which puts the Cavs back at the 39. The sack is called because Sewell put the ball down.

3:00 pm, 3:35 left: Carolina forces the punt, and they take a timeout. They’ll get one last chance to get back in this game. Please God, no turnovers in this next drive.

3:06 pm, 3:15 left: The shovel pass gets a decent gain, but on second down Yates is very lucky not to have thrown the game away.

3:08 pm, 2:51 left: Yates makes a great pass to Hakeem Nicks, who fights his way to the 40 yard line.

3:09 pm, 2:37 left: Yates gets out of the pocket, and he makes a nice pass on the run to Zach Pianalto, and suddenly the heels are in UVA territory.

3:10 pm, 2:15 left: Nicks takes his catch to the 25 yard line, and Foster catches in stride and takes it to the 2 yard line. The Heels will have 2 minutes, two timeouts, and 4 chances to tie this game. Time for Anthony Elzy.

UNC’s receivers have done a great job of running after the catch, and Yates has done a great job of throwing the ball to the receivers in stride.

3;12, 1:55 left: TOUCHDOWN! Yates throws the TD on the play-action pass to Richard Quinn. UNC will now go for two to tie the game.

3:13: The Cavs bring pressure on the two-point attempt…and the pass is broken up! The D-line blocks yet another pass from Yates and the two-point attempt is no good. UVA leads, 22-20, and UNC will have to try the onside kick.

3:15 pm: Connor Barth, what the hell kind of onside kick was that? UNC had no chance of recovery and now the Heels must now get a 3 and out.

3:17 pm, 1:35 left: Peerman gets a nice gain, and the Cavs are only 2 yards away from sneaking a win out of this game.

3:19 pm: Both teams go all out for their team. Every UNC player tries to stop forward progress, and Alvin Pearman fights for the first down mark.

Virginia gets the first down, but by just inches. I think the Heels got a bad snap, but Virginia will get this win.

3:22 pm: The game is officially over, and Virginia holds on for the 22-20 win. Both teams had a lot of chances in this game. Carolina played their hearts out, but key turnovers in the fourth quarter stopped some great drives, and UNC probably would have won if not for those turnovers. Still, future is bright for this team. They’ve showed flashes of brilliance on both side of the ball; they just need to keep it together for 60 minutes.

Credit needs to be given to the officiating crew in this game. Several times they had to run the game without a working scoreboard, after the main scoreboard was struck by lightning yesterday, and they still did a pretty good job of refereeing the game.

Tar Heel Mania’s UNC vs. Virginia Preview

This Saturday is UNC’s ACC opener against the University of Virginia. To start the Tar Heels’ conference schedule, I have invited Eric from The Extrapolater, a Charlottesville resident and UVa fan, to help preview that game.

We now continue with my preview of this’ year’s battle royale for 4th place in the ACC Costal Division.


  • T. J. Yates has the highest QB rating in the ACC through two games, and the 6th highest in the country. Think about that statistic for a second. At the beginning of season, Heels fans would have been happy just with a quarterback who didn’t throw twice as many interceptions as touchdowns. To have this kind of success at quarterback for an entire season, from a redshirt freshman on a team that finished 3-9 last season, would be nothing short of astounding. Can he keep it up against ACC competition?
  • Our running back situation still seems quite inconsistent. Johnny White has averaged more than 4 yards per carry, and he and Bobby Rome had some nice numbers receiving against East Carolina last week. But the team has averaged less than 90 yards per game on the ground, and eventually the Tar Heels will run into a team that can stop the passing game. We’ll need at least some consistency from the ground game.
  • I cannot name any of the Cavaliers defensive backs off the top of my head. All I know is that UNC’s wide receivers will be running them ragged all day. Brandon Tate, Hakeem Nicks and Brooks Foster make Yates’ job at QB much easier.


Let’s hope we see a lot of this on Saturday.


  • Patrick Pinkney began this season 3rd in the QB depth chart for East Carolina. After one quarterback got injured and another struggled in their opener against Virginia Tech, Pinkney was thrown into the fire. This inexperienced quarterback proceeded to destroy UNC’s defense, throwing for 406 yards, 3 touchdowns, and no interceptions. Jameel Sewell’s struggles have been well documented, and the Cavs have only scored 27 points in their first two games (24 of which were against Duke). But we have a very inexperienced team, and I have no idea how the defense will react. They may allow five points, they might allow 30; I just don’t know.
  • The few experienced players on defense have really stepped up. Durell Mapp leads the Heels in tackles, Kentwan Balmer leads a talented defensive line, and Trimane Goddard has returned from injury to play very well at safety. All three of these guys will need to step up on Saturday.
  • Words cannot describe how angry I will be if our secondary gets burned by Virginia tight end Tom Santi.

Special Teams:

  • Brandon Tate. End of story. The Cavs’ kick coverage might be in for a long day.

Last year, UNC’s John Bunting was fired after the Heels were blanked 23-0 in Charlottesville. Would a Heels domination in Chapel Hill spell the end for for Al Groh? We’ll see.

UNC vs. JMU: What They Didn’t Want You To Know

It’s far too easy to look at a box score. Sure, last Saturday’s box score says that UNC dominated their game against a 1-AA opponent (a 37-14 win). But there was so much more to that game than the statistics, or even what we saw on the field. To see what factors truly belie each game, each team, and each season, one must look beyond the playing field, into the “facts”* that “they”** don’t want you to know. Take these “facts” from UNC’s season opener, for example:

  • John Shoop’s offense scored more points in this game than during his entire tenure as coordinator for the Oakland Raiders. Seriously.***
  • Instead of chemotherapy, Butch Davis has been intravenously given extra strength Red Bull since training camp began, unbeknown to even Davis himself. His resulting fits of rage have made the Tar Heels play better ever since, as players now fear making a big mistake and drawing his “therapy-induced” ire.
  • Coach Davis’ plan to boost UNC’s athletic budget by nearly 50% by charging $3.50 per bottle of Dasani at Kenan Stadium is working almost perfectly after game 1. He will use the money to bling out the locker room, making potential recruits think that “Chapel Hill is the shiznit.”
  • Speaking of Kenan Stadium, it looked very impressive on Saturday when all 60,00 seats were full. But the reality is that the crowd composed of 30,000 fans and their evil parallel universe selves, brought to Chapel Hill via a wormhole in the campus Physics lab. What, you think our $2 billion endowment goes to curing cancer? Pffffft.
  • Defensive tackle Marvin Austin put on the Freshman 15 during the pregame lunch. Once he’s on the field, his speed off the snap is the result of, um, shall we say, “gas propulsion”.


“Heh heh, all y’all gon’ smell dat.”

  • Our defensive coordinator was chosen because he knows the secret to removing the bizarre and previously unknown chemical that magically repelled footballs from the hands of wide receivers and defensive backs during the John Bunting era.
  • The main reason that quarterbacks Cam Sexton and Joe Dailey threw so many interceptions in 2006, especially in the red zone, is because they were constantly distracted by the Carolina girls in the stands. T.J. Yates has no such problem. No, he’s a chubby chaser.
  • In a related story, Cam Sexton is expected to start when the Tar Heels travel to Raleigh to play N.C. State.
  • In another related story, after a case of mistaken identity, Marvin Austin refuses to use the showers in the Kenan Stadium locker room ever again.
  • You might believe that James Madison was an inferior opponent, and UNC fans shouldn’t get their hopes up. What you don’t know is that aliens secretly replaced the Dukes with the 2004 USC Trojans, considered to be one of the great all-time teams in college football. We went on to beat them 37-14. By circular reasoning, after only one game under coach Davis, the 2007 Tar Heels are already the greatest college football team in the history of the world. Ever.

So there’s a lot more to be taken from this game than just the stats. You just need to know where to look.


*None of these “facts” have been proved. But hey, they haven’t been disproved, either.

**I don’t know who “they” are, but they’re there, all right.

***Insanely, this one is true. In 6 games as the offensive coordinator for Oakland in 2006, the Raiders scored 35 points. The Tar Heels scored 37 on Saturday.

UNC 37, James Madison 14

What a game. I know that the opponent was James Madison, but the atmosphere in Kenan Stadium was the best I’ve seen in a while, especially in the first half.

Some observations from the game…


  • T.J Yates did a very good job in this game. He completed 13 of his 18 passes for 220 yards and 3 touchdowns. Aside from his first quarter interception, he didn’t seem to make any ill-advised throws, and considering last year’s QB situation, that alone is a huge improvement.
  • Of course, Yates has the benefit of some great receivers to throw to. Brooks Foster repeated last season’s good form, catching 4 passes for 87 yards and 2 touchdowns, including the 65-yard TD catch and run on their third play from scrimmage that blew the doors open. Brandon Tate was just as deadly at receiver as he is on special teams, catching two passes for 74 yards and a touchdown. Hakeem Nicks, Greg Little, and Kenton Thornton also caught passes from the wide receiver position.
  • The running game is still a bit of a weakness. Johnny White was UNC’s best every-down back in this game, rushing the ball 12 times for 49 yards, just over 4 yards per carry. With the exception of Anthony Elzy, who was effective in goal line situations scoring both of the Heels’ rushing touchdowns, no one else stepped up in the backfield. They will need to make some adjustments in the running game to do well against better opponents, who will be able to shut down a one dimensional offense.
  • Speaking of running backs, I’m still not quite sure how effective the H-back is or will be in the Tar Heels offense, especially if it’s going to be pass-heavy this season.


  • Turnovers. Boy, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen this team forcing this many turnovers in a game. I think the secondary may have gotten as many interceptions as they did in all of 2006. (You think I’m exaggerating, but I’m not. I can seriously count the number of interceptions I saw the Heels make last season on one hand and still be able to grab objects with my spare fingers.) If you count the blocked punt, UNC forced four turnovers in this game (though only 10 of our points became of them).
  • Many were expect Marvin Austin to have more impact on defense than any other incoming player. While he did show flashes of brilliance, the standout defensive rookies were in the secondary. Charles had a big day at nickelback against the JMU spread option, recording 9 tackles. Redshirt freshman Deunta Williams had three tackles and an interception, which he returned 45 yards into the JMU red zone.
  • Speaking of safeties: Welcome back, Trimane Goddard. We missed you.
  • Our defense was nothing short of disaster in 2002-2004 and in 2006. This was for two main reasons: 1) we got consistently overpowered at the line of scrimmage, 2) we couldn’t get to the ball fast enough, and 3) when we did, we couldn’t tackle very well. Our 2007 defense appears to have made dramatic improvements in all areas. Austin, Kentwan Balmer, Darrius Massenburg, Cam Thomas, Tavares Brown, and Hilee Taylor consistently asserted themselves at the line, breaking up plays and nearly making a few big plays of their own. The linebackers and defensive backs were able to efficiently pursue the ball carriers, and with few exceptions they made solid tackles. Of course, the Heels D still had weaknesses. They allowed big plays to the outside when the quarterback and running backs managed to escape the pocket. The Dukes scored both of their touchdowns when QB Rodney Landers escaped the pocket in the red zone, and the defense didn’t quite know what to do. That may have to do with a lack of experience more than anything else, but they need to better defend the outside.

Special Teams:

  • It was a big surprise (shocking, even) to see that, for the first time in a while, we have a good punter in Terrence Brown. He averaged over 50 yards per punt, including 52- and 64-yard punts inside the 5 yard line. Having a good punter may not sound very important, but it can give an advantage in field position against almost any opponent. That can often mean the difference between winning and losing.

So what does this all mean? Under normal circumstances, I would say very little. James Madison was a 1-AA opponent, and any performance would not be a very reliable indicator for the future (unless you lose, in which case you’re in deep trouble). But this program needed a boost in confidence, and its fan base needed a reason to be hopeful. We got both on Saturday Night.

Next Week: UNC gets our first real test, as the Tar Heels head to Greenville to face East Carolina.