ACC Roundtable: Swagger Edition

This week’s ACC Roundtable comes courtesy of Clemson blog Block-C. I promise not to pollute into Lake Hartwell.

1) Does this weekends OOC performance for the ACC negate that first weekend’s total bed s—ing performance? Why or why not?

Well, the bed still stinks, but now it stinks of Clorox and Febreze, thanks to Florida State’s dismantling of BYU. The mess is being cleaned up and no one is going to get sick, but it’s still pretty apparent something bad happened not too long ago. Maryland blanking on its home-and-home with Middle Tennessee State didn’t help matters, but we’ve adjusted our mental expectations of the Terps, Cavs, Eagles, and Blue Devils. For any of them to get to a bowl, at this point, would be a small miracle.

2) Continuing the weekly theme of predicting the conference outcome, who’ll play in the ACC CG?

Honestly, I have no idea. Miami certainly bolstered their position with their win against Georgia Tech, and they’re on the inside track to Tampa if they win in Blacksburg this Saturday. UNC-GT is a must win for the Jackets; if they lose, I don’t see how they can recover and win the Coastal. Simply too much would need to go in their favor after that. If both Techs win, the entire division is thrust into chaos.

As for the Atlantic, only Florida State has done anything positive of note. The jury’s out until at least next week.

3) Is Miami a legit top ten team? Why or why not?

At the moment, absolutely. They had one of the toughest first two games of anyone in the country, and they’ve passed those tests with flying colors. Jacory Harris, under OC Mark Whipple, is developing into the best QB in the conference. There are still two big tests in the next two weeks, but if the Hurricanes can beat Virginia Tech and Oklahoma to start the season 4-0, the talk will be about a national title, not a conference title.

Of course, I would love nothing more than for UNC to burst their bubble when the Canes come to Chapel Hill.

4) If you had to declare an ACC MVP right now, who’s your top guy?

Robert Marve. One day, in 2012, we will look back at the conference’s recent past, and we will think to ourselves, “there may not be a person who has done more for a team by leaving than this man.” At the very least, it would be a toss-up between him and Bryan Stinespring.

Enjoy Purdue. And thanks for that last-minute interception that one time in Miami last season. We appreciate it.

5) Women, whiskey, and travelin’ is all I understand. What three things do you understand, blogger friends?

1. I understand that UNC’s defense is well equipped to defend Georgia Tech’s option offense on Saturday.

2. I understand, conversely, that UNC’s thin offensive line may get annihilated by one Derrick Morgan.

3. I understand that–UPDATE: wait, you meant about life? Okay, then. Life’s too short not to be happy, vegetarianism is for quitters, and when you boil it down, we’re hootin’ and hollerin’ about kids running around in numbered superhero costumes. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, mind you.

ACC PREDICTIONS PREDICTIONS PREDICTIONS!

VT blog Gobbler Country and Furrier4Heisman held a preseason conference poll among ACC bloggers and was kind enough to invite my opinion, despite my recent sporadic-ness-ness-ness. (I will save the explanation for another time, but for now I’ll say life got in the way.) Anyway, here were may predictions:

Atlantic Division

1. Florida State

2. NC State

3. Clemson

4. Wake Forest

5. Maryland

6. Boston College

Florida State has the talent, eventually they have to pull it together, right? State is a team on the rise despite the (temporary?) loss of Nate Irving. I sincerely hope he comes back to haunt running backs’ dreams again…just not our backs. Clemson is still talented, but we don’t know how consistent they are. Wake Forest will take a step back on defense, the key to their success the last three years. Boston College is squarely in rebuilding mode after all they’ve lost.

Coastal Division

1. Virginia Tech

2. Georgia Tech

3. North Carolina

4. Miami

5. Virginia

6. Duke

Last year was the time to pounce on the Coastal Division and step up in Virginia Tech’s rebuilding year. That window is now closed, and now anyone who wants to win this division must go through the Hokies. Georgia Tech’s Success will depend on whether their triple option stand the test of a team getting a second look. I actually predicted that North Carolina can finish as well as 10-2, but they have to beat one or both of the Techs on the road in order to win the division; honestly, I don;t think this team is ready. Miami still needs to show consistency to be placed higher than fourth. Virginia lose too many important players from 2008 and Duke is, well, Duke.

Offensive Player of the Year: Darren Evans, Virginia Tech

Partly because he’s very good and partly to be contrarian. How Gobbler Country let me get away with calling him “Darrell Evans” in the email I sent him, I’ll never know.

Defensive Player of the Year: QUANTAVIUS THE MAGNIFICENT, UNC.

I have never been more confident of a prediction in my entire life. Ever.

Rookie of the Year: Josh Adams, UNC.

Not knowing much (read: anything about other rookies in the ACC, I decided to stick to what I know. Judging by the pairty in voting in this category, everyone else voted the same way. I think Jamal Womble will have a bigger impact, but I have a hunch Adams will have better stats.

Thanks again to Gobbler Country for holding this poll.

ACC Roundtable #2: I Couldn’t Come Up With a Clever Title

Hello and welcome to the second edition of the ACC Roundtable. I will be your gracious host this week. The roundup of everyone’s answers will be posted later today.

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

I’ts not very often that three on one conference’s “top” teams lose on the same day. Conversely, the ACC has been a league completely devoid of frontrunners in 2008. Most experts kind of had a hunch that would be the case coming in to the season, but certainly not to the extent that the unanimous preseason favorite might not go bowling (which very well may be the case with 3-4 Clemson, who only has one FBS win).

There were some overriding factors, though. Maryland is especially tough at home, where they’ve had their more impressive performances this season. UNC hasn’t won in Charlottesville in the Welsh/Groh era. But the biggest factor that led to the three favorites losing is that they scored 19 points on offense in regulation. Combined. You can’t win ball games with offenses that are so…well, offensive.

Ha ha! Bad puns!

Still, we are the designated bizarro conference, and nothing should come as a surprise to us anymore.

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?

it all comes down to consistency and circumstance. The Terrapins clearly have the offensive tools to compete with anyone left on their schedule: Chris Turner, Darius Heyward-Bey, and a solid rushing attack led by Da’Rel Scott. And having a good offense can be the difference in teh ACC, where everyone has a passable defense.

After hosting NC State, thee Terps have four games against some of the better teams in the conference (@VT, UNC, FSU, @BC). You can pretty much guarantee that they are going to drop at least one of those games (UNC please!). In my opinion, the Terps can finish as well as 6-2 in the ACC and 9-3 overall. Is that good enough to win the Atlantic? who knows.

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?

Losing Sam Swank hurts, especially because the offense goes from “guaranteed to score if you get inside the 35” to “he might shank the extra point”. However, I should be able to expect the likes of Riley Skinner, Josh Adams, D.J. Boldin and offensive coordinator Steed Lobotzke to score more than one touchdown in three conference games.

Photo: W-S Journal

I am very, very tempted to say Yates or Tate here, since I have bore witness to every minute of their absence, and both are vitally important to the Heels’ offense. UVa game aside, Cam Sexton has stepped in admirably for the injured Yates, going 3-1 as a starter and exceeding all expectations that anyone had of him coming into the season. However, one has to consider the circumstances of UNC’s two losses. If Yates is healthy, UNC wins these two games against Virginia Tech and Virginia. (Of course, they may have lost those close games against Miami and Notre Dame and we’d be sitting at 5-2 anyway. Such are the murky waters of the “what ifs”.)

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

Well, this is a Bizarro conference, so how about a Bizarro answer: Florida State-Miami.

Miami is still only a two loss team, and they may have found their offensive solution in Jacory Harris. The Hurricanes certainly have as talented a team as anyone in the ACC. Most importantly, however, they have circumstance on their side. Three of their remaining games in November are against current Coastal frontrunners Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, and Virginia. If they win out, the Canes hold all the tiebreakers against those teams. They would only need the Tar Heels to lose a third conference game, and that shouldn’t be too difficult.

As for Florida State, they only have only loss (to Wake). Much like Miami, the Seminoles have the fortune of circumstance. They can take out two of their opponents, Maryland and BC, to end their conference schedule. They just have to make it through the Techs unscathed first.

So why not Miami-Florida State? It makes about as much sense as anything else that’s happened so far.

A Formal Apology to Cam Sexton

Cam, I have a confession to make. I don’t remember exactly what I said about you in your redshirt freshman year, but I am sure much of it was quite, to put it mildly, unflattering.

For this, Mr. Sexton, I offer my most sincere apologies. You have more than made up for the memories of 2006, most of which I now realize was not your fault, with your performance on Saturday afternoon. 148 passing yards and two touchdowns in the fourth quarter speak for themselves, and you never turned the ball over. In particular, those two touchdown passes were absolutely clutch.

i understand that this is just one game. Clearly, however, you have made great strides in your development during these two years. I now have great confidence in your abilities while T.J. Yates is absent.

Again, thank you for your performance against Miami, and I look forward to watching you lead the Carolina offense against Connecticut next week.

I’m Not Worried

Coming into this Saturday’s game against Miami, the biggest fuss surrounding UNC is the quarterback situation. T.J. Yates is gone for half the season, and there doesn’t seem to be much separation between Mike Paulus and Cam Sexton (if you believe coach Davis, of course). No matter who plays the general consensus is that the Heels are going to be reeling from this loss.

But you know what? I’m not all that worried about Paulus or Sexton running the offense. Perhaps I should be, but I’m not. And here’s why.

The UNC offense will not change much. Both Butch Davis and John Shoop have made it clear that they are going to run the same offense as they would with Yates as their QB. Both Sexton and Pulus have taken a lot of snaps in this offense at some point, either while the QB situation was still in doubt last year or when Yates was recovering from shoulder surgery this past offseason.

That said, I think we will see a few tweaks to what Shoop has shown us earlier in the year. One of the offenses bread-and-butter- plays last year was the one step drop and quick pass to a receiver at the line of scrimmage. If the corners gave a bit too much space, Yates would take the snap and quickly throw it to Nicks, Tate, or Foster. I lieu of a true running game, this play consistently gained 5-10 yards for the Heels. Those types of plays have been strangely abesnt from the playbook so far in 2008 (presumably because Shoop trusts Yates to make riskier throws). Given the new QB situation and the continued struggles in the backfield, it would be interesting to see if the quickpass makes it back into the playbook.

Both QBs have their advantages. Sexton is certainly a more experienced player than Paulus. While he got a bit of a bad reputation after he was thrown into the fire that UNC’s disastrous 2006 season, people tend to forget that he, like Paulus, was a 4 star recruit out of high school, and was expected to ultimately become the starter before complications got in the way (foot injury, Joe Dailey, his 2006 performance, Yates). A more mobile QB than Paulus, it’s quite possible that he’s a much better quarterback now than he was two years ago. So, no matter what you think of him, Sexton may be every bit the talent (or enigma) that Paulus is right now.

As for Paulus, there is little doubt about his arm strength, but he definitely won;t threaten anyone with his legs. Like Sexton, he was recruited to be the eventual starter before Yates burst onto the scene. While he does have experience in practice, Virginia Tech was his first true in-game situation. For Paulus, the next five or six games are not just filling in at QB. This could be his to prove, if he plays well enough, that he once again deserves consideration for the starting job. (Or if nothing else, possibly auditioning to transfer in the offseason.) If he cracks under the pressure, we’ve got a stable QB situation when T.J. comes back. If he shines, we’ve got 2 very good QB’s from which to choose.

There are 21 other guys on the field, and their feet are fine. As much as we like to believe otherwise, a good quarterback isn’t always the game-changing talent. Often it’s the QB who just manages the offense, doesn’t make mistakes, and helps his team play better. Uh oh, I think I’m beginning to sound like Dr. Lou! OH NO! Too…many…cliches…(administers tranquilizer dart on self, faints)

(wakes up 4 hours later)…OK, where was I? Oh yes. My point is that how well our quarter back plays will depend, at least partially, on how the rest of the team plays. The defense has to continue performing well, starting against the very talented (if green) Hurricanes. In particular, we’ve seen our linebackers perform above expectations and the emergence of Robert Quinn at defensive end. The offensive line has to perform, giving time for the QB as well as controlling the line of scrimmage for the tailbacks. If everything goes as it should, pretty much all the QB will have to do is hand the ball off on half of the plays and find an open receiver on the other half.

The mistakes of last week are correctable. Let’s face it: Mike Paulus’ pick to Macho Harris, while costly, didn’t cost Carolina the game. Penalties cost them the game. A subpar rushing attack cost them the game. Defensive fatigue cost them the game.

Most importantly, experience seemed to cost them the game. Discounting the third quarter drive where everyone believes VT seized momentum, there were many other factors that led to their comeback victory. UNC committed two bad fumbles that led to 10 Tech points. Jay Wooten missed an early 40 yard field goal. The Heels tried to go for the first down on 4th and 1 at the VT 5 and were called for a delay of game, forcing the Heels to settle for a field goal. A late hit on a fourth quarter punt return ultimately led to the game-winning field goal. Discounting the infamous drive and Paulus’ pick, human error on the part of UNC led to a 23 point swing in favor of the Hokies, from a plausible 27-7 UNC lead.

The good news about all of this is that all of these mistakes can be corrected, and almost certainly will not be repeated to the same extent.

HeelTube: Deunta Williams

As you can well imagine, finding good UNC football video on YouTube tends to be pretty difficult (compared to, say, Auburn). However, users like colbert08 are making it a lot easier, going so far as to put together 2007 highlights of this year’s key players. Today’s highlight reel is of The ACC Defensive Freshman of the Year, safety Deunta Williams.

Watching our defense this year is going to be fun.

Time to Get Your Hopes Up

The symbol of optimists everywhere.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dook Week: The Battle For Who Sucks Less

Yep, that pretty much sums up this matchup in the post-Mack era. As much as we would like to say that we were thisclose to a 9-2 record to this point (and we were), the fact remains that we’re 3-8 coming into this matchup against 1-11 Duke. However, the good news is that a win would still place us ahead of Miami in the ACC Coastal Division to end the year. So there’s that motivation for the team to win big and for fans to go to the game…along with the consequences to modern civilization as we know it if we lose to Duke in Kenan Stadium.

zombiiiiiiiiiiieeeeeeesss.jpg

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.

114 Days to Football Season…

Here’s a video of the Tar Heel Football team in happier times. in 2004, John Bunting was on the chopping block. The Tar Heels were 3-4, 2-2 in the ACC, and had just been annihilated by Utah on the road. Undefeated and #3 ranked Miami came to Chapel Hill on October 30, and on paper it looked like we were going to get steamrolled. But games aren’t played on paper…