Meet The Newbies! Josh Adams

Football Season: It’s creeping up a lot faster than you think. It makes no sense to cover the important players you already know. That’s the MSM’s job. Instead, let’s talk about the players with whom you may be less familiar: The players who will get significant PT for the first time. Today we look at Josh Adams, a man soon to become the preying mantis of the ACC. I have no idea what that metaphor means.

What We Know: 6’4″ Josh Adams enrolled early this past January, getting a head start on his true freshman peers. This decision has allowed him to move up the depth chart faster than other highly touted freshman like fellow WR Jheranie Boyd and top high school defensive end Donte Moss. (Mind you, Moss was the #1 DE in the nation when he signed, and the Heels are thinner at DE than at WR right now.) Adams had 1131 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns on just 56 catches his senior year in high school, averaging 20 yards per catch. (Detractors say those numbers were inflated by inferior opponents, but eh.) Adams’ first college football experience was spring practice, which makes him just as qualified as anyone else on this team to be a starting receiver.

What They’re Saying: As directed by the UNC Football Ministry of Propaganda, quarterback T. J. Yates has praised Adams as a dream in convenient wide receiver form:

“He’s one of the hardest working receivers I’ve been around. Especially for his young age. Coming right into school, he was 100 percent ball, all the time. He was watching film everyday, catching the ball. Even when he was hurt he was catching the ball, running routes, so his work ethic is really going to pay off for him. He’s definitely going to contribute for us. He’s got great hands, he runs really good routes, and he can go up there and make the catches guys aren’t supposed to, so he’s definitely going to make some plays for us.”

Until September 5th, no one outside of UNC’s practices has any way of substantiating this claim.

What We Can Expect: I don’t see him moving ahead of Greg Little or Dwight Jones into the starting lineup. However, Josh Adams seems to have established himself in spring practice as the #3 wide receiver for the Heels. If he stays there and plays well, he could put up Brooks Foster-type numbers this season: 25-35 catches and 300-450 yards. I have no idea if this will actually happen, but in UNC’s pro-style offense it’s a reasonable ceiling.

(Photo: IC)

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Hello, Deer. Have You Met Headlights?

Coming out of the tunnel in the second half…

Mike Paulus: Yeah, I am sooo pumped for this game, even though I’m probably not going to see a snap. But hey, if I’m in the game, it;s because you’ve slammed the door shut, T.J. Now let’s kick some! Let’s go, T.J.! Let’s go, Quan! Let’s go, Greg! WHOOOOOOOO!!!

(Mike Paulus has just patted the back of each player just mentioned, unwittingly giving them an radio chip in the process.)

Third Quarter. UNC is up 10-3 against Virginia Tech.

This game ain’t looking half-bad. Defense is dominating, we’re in field goal range, and T.J. is looking pretty sharp.

T.J. Yates: HUT HUT!

Radio: Beep beepbeedeedeep beedeedeep beedeedeepeep beedeedeepeep beeeeeeeeeeeeep

T.J. Yates:

Must…sprint…backwards…into…defensive…player…

(Yates is sacked for a loss of 20 yards, and hurts his left foot in the process)

Oh, no! T.J. can’t be hurt!

Butch: Get him out of there!

Yates: I’m…fine…coach…I’ll…stay…here…

(Yates performs 7 step drop on bad foot, is sacked)

Butch: WHAT WERE YOU THINKING!

Yates: I don’t know what came over me OW OW OW OW

Alright Mike, get yourself together. This game is on your shoulders now. Hopefully we can get the running game going. Keep the pressure off, you know. You can do this, Mike, This is what you came here for.

Next possession…

Alright, Well start with a run up the middle. Can’t be that bad. HUT HUT! (hands of to Greg Little) GO! GO GO GO GO GO! YEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAHHHHHH!!! WAY TO GO GREG! WAY TO GO! Whoo, okay. 17-3. Defense is playing well. Pressure’s off.

VT possession. 3rd and 5. Tyrod Taylor has just been stopped for no gain.

Way to go defense! Way to go!

Unnamed Hokie Player:

Ron Cherry: After the play was over, personal foul, on the…

Radio: BEEEEP BEEDEEDEEP BEEPDEEDEEDEEPBEEEP BEEEEEEEEP

Cherry:

…on the defense. 15 yards from the dead ball spot, first down.

WHAT! He had Quan by the mask! How is that not on Tech, Ron? Oh, well, we can still force a field goal kick.

Virginia Tech scores after another, er, “odd” call, and the score is 17-10.

Okay, so they’ve cut the lead to seven. But come on, that was a fluke. We can still be in control of this game.

So, we’ll just do this like last time. handoff to Greg up the middle and see what happens. HUT HUT!

Radio: BEEEPBEDEDEEEPBEEEP BEDEDEEPBEEP BEEEEEEEEP

Greg Little:

Must…let…go…of…ball…at…inopportune…moment…

Okay, we’re in the red zone, getting into crunch time. We’ve made it this far, I think we can finish this drive get the momentum back, and walk away with victory. Alright, keep it cool.

HUT HUT!

Let’s see to the right here. Hey look! Foster’s open in the flat…

Radio: BEEPBEDEEPBEBEDEEEEEPPBEPBEDEEEP BEEEEP

Must…throw…deep…ball…into…coverage…hope…Hakeem…gets…lucky…

Macho Harris: Mmm yummy delicious interception

Crowd: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Wha…what just happened? Oh come on! What made me throw that to Nicks? How could i be so stupid!

Hokies win the game, 20-17.

Okay, something’s up. way too many weird things have been going on. How could this have happened? HOW!

Meanwhile, not far away…

(phone rings)

(phone rings)

(ph-)

Anonymous voice from Durham #1:

Cut here.

Ananymous voice from Durham #2:

Hey, it’s Greg. Just wanted to let you know that the plan worked. Phase one of Operation Sabotage is complete.

Anonymous voice from Durham #1: Excellent. But I still can’t believe you got your brother to become part of the plan.

Anonymous voice from Durham #2: I know! That dude is so gullible when he’s around me.

Anonymous voice from Durham #1: Muahahahaha….

Anonymous voice from Durham #1: BWAHH-HAHAHAHAAAAAAA…

TO BE CONTINUED…

A Visual Representation of Me At the UNC-Virginia Tech Game

First two and a half quarters:

Pure jubilation. Sure, it was only a 14 point lead, but Greg Litlle had just run 50 yards for a touchdown to put us up 17-3. And honestly, where the hell was Virginia Tech’s offense gonna come from?

Final quarter and a half:

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

You can use that picture to describe the Paulus interception to Macho Harris. Or the Greg Little fumble. Or the Yates injury. Or any of the frustrating penalties. That was pretty much everyone’s face in the stadium in the fourth quarter.

So, What Did We Learn From McNeese State?

In all honesty, not much. It was an ugly win against an FCS opponent. But we’re 1-0, and that’s what matters. So slowly step away from the panic button, if you would be so kind.

Here’s a quick look at what happened on Saturday.

On Offense:

  • John Shoop most likely showed us only the bare bones of the offensive playbook needed to win on Saturday. Nerve wracking, but ultimately the smart move.
  • Butch Davis said that he was committed to running the football to a fault. In response, McNeese State consistently put 8 or 9 guys in the box, especially on first down. Greg Little certainly didn’t look all that impressive, but he should improve over the season. Meanwhile, Shaun Draughn has established himself as the #2 back, making the move from safety look very smart.
  • T.J. Yates’s shoulder is completely healthy, and nothing about his performance is more important than that. Yates played well at times, but still made some of the mistakes he would make in his freshman year. It’s unclear how much of his play was affected positively or negatively by McNeese State’s defense, but he’ll need to improve on his 57.7 % completion rate.
  • Of greatest concern is the offensive line. They allowed Yates to be sacked twice, and only twice did the backs have a run of 10 yards or more. Most importantly, they never really seemed to control the line of scrimmage. Against most teams, that raises concerns. Against an FCS team, it sets off alarm bells.
  • There is nothing that can be said about Brandon Tate that has not already been said. He was simply outstanding.

On Defense:

  • The defense was on their heels against the spread option the entire night. Granted, it was the first time this defense has faced a true spread option offense, but the job of the defense is to act as the chaos to the order of the offense, and UNC never truly disrupted McNeese State’s rhythm.
  • The defensive line was not as effective as most expected. Not only was Derrick Forroux not sacked, but he was never truly pressured at any point in the game. On the bright side, E.J. Wilson did an excellent job of disrupting his side of the line, recording eight total tackles and three of UNC’s seven tackles for loss. Greg Elleby contributed four tackles, a forced fumble, and a TFL as well.
  • Not much was expected of the linebacking corps, but they kept themselves quite busy the entire game, with three of the team’s four leading tacklers. Quan Sturdivant QUANTAVIUS THE MAGNIFICENT led the team with eleven tackles, followed by Mark Paschal with nine tackles and Bruce Carter with eight. Paschal also forced a fumble. Chase Rice contributed with two tackles off the bench. None of these players were much of a factor behind the line of scrimmage, but they did a solid job overall.
  • The secondary had its ups and downs. Carolina didn’t have much of an answer for McNeese State’s version of Tate, Quentin Lawrence. The Carencro, LA junior had 73 yards receiving and a punt return for a touchdown. As for UNC’s defense, Kendric Burney had a solid game with five tackles (all in the open field), including one tackle for loss. Jordan Hemby had two tackles (one for loss) in his first start at cornerback, but he struggled at times, give up McNeese State’s only passing touchdown. Charles Brown did not play due to nagging injuries. The Heels will likely need his presence for when they Rutgers and their tough receiving corps. Trimane Goddard had the team’s only interception, and Deunta WIlliams contributed with five tackles, albeit only one solo tackle.

Special Teams:

  • Casey Barth got the nod for starting kicker, but missing his only field goal attempt opens the door for Jay wooten once again.
  • Marvin Austin’s block of an extra point, obviously, helped swing momentum back in UNC’s favor when the Heels needed it most.

As unimpressive a game by the Tar Heels as it was, the team isn’t completely to blame. The rain delay obviously killed momentum and helped to level the playing field, and the coaching staff did not want to reveal too much to future opponents such as Rutgers. Not to mention the fact that McNeese State is one of the toughest FCS teams that Carolina could have scheduled, not only for their quality ranking, players, and spread offense, but for their stunning victory over God in 2007. As disappointing as an eight point margin against an FCS opponent appears at first glance, we started the season 1-0, and this game should act as a wake-up call for this team team between now and their next game against Rutgers.

HeelTube: Wide Receiver Bonanza

With only nine days left until the start of Carolina’s football season, I am officially pumped. To help you visualize 2008 Carolina football, let’s take a look at a few of T.J. Yates’ favorite targets.

First up, Hakeem Nicks.

Next, senior Brooks Foster.

The gamebreaker, Brandon Tate.

And for good measure, Dwight Jones in high school.

Needless to say, Yates has plenty of options this year.

Carolina Football Items: 8/2

Practice started yesterday for Carolina football. Begin freaking out…now.

  • The consensus is that T.J. Yates is 100% healthy. He certainly impressed with his throws in practice (which you can see here), and the UNC staff isn’t very concerned about him anymore. Does this mean we’re going to see the Yates who threw for 9 touchdowns in the first 3 games of the season? We won’t know for sure until September. But UNC fans should feel comfortable knowing that the QB position is a bit more stable than it was a week ago.
  • A technicality with the NCAA has prevented freshman Kevin Reddick and juco transfer Joseph Townsend from participating in opening practice. Ultimately, it shouldn’t interfere with their long-term eligibility.
  • Say it with me: We’re Number 46! We’re Number 46!

Address the Mess: Slow Starts

Address the Mess is a new feature to discuss some of the problems Carolina Football faced last season, and how the team might correct them. Not that we’re in a mess; far from it. But in the parity (bad-ness-ness-ness-ness) of the ACC, where Carolina played in 8 games decided by a touchdown or less, successfully addressing even one of these issues can be worth an extra win or two. Today we start with the Tar Heels’ struggles in the first and third quarters.

The Problem: “Hello, uh…Mr.  Yates? Coach? O-Line? D-backs? Hi, my name is Mike. I’m a big fan of yours. Listen, uh just so you know, it’s ehmmm about 12:30, which means the football game you guys are a part of has, uh already started, so I just wanted you a friendly reminder to, uhh START PLAYING LIKE IT! Okay, good to see you, and good luck.”

Is this an accurate description of you, the Tar Heel fan, circa last season? If so, I understand. In Carolina’s eight close games, opponents outscored UNC 123-71 in the first and third quarters, and in four of our twelve games the Heels were shut out in those quarters. Conversely, UNC outscored its FBS opponents 126-83 in the second and fourth quarters and overtime Extrapolated, that’s a swing of more than 20 points per game when the outcome was determined by a touchdown or less.

The Reasons: The Heels had just appeared to be sluggish out of the gate. It’s difficult to know exactly why, but two trends presented themselves in the first and third quarters more than anything else.

The most obvious (and correctable) problem is turnovers. First quarters were littered with interceptions, almost-interceptions, and a failed fourth-and-goal conversion against Georgia Tech (a turnover in spirit) caused by a dropped touchdown pass. These kinds of mental mistakes would fill an entire article, but this is an inexperienced team, and in this case turnovers are only part of the story.

A larger and more subtle theme at the start of games has been the inability to control the line of scrimmage. The offensive line, with only one experienced starter (Scott Lenahan), were particularly vulnerable in the first quarter, getting beat by opposing D-lines consistently. This explains more than anything else why the running game just didn’t work at the start of games, and Yates made bad decisions in the first one or two possessions.

Conversely, the defensive line had some odd lapses to start the game as well, completely uncharacteristic compared to their typical performances later in the game. They allowed Virginia’s Cedric Peerman to run for nearly 100 yards in the first quarter. Virginia Tech’s only big offensive play came on the second play from scrimmage, a 54-yard run by Eddie Royal to set up their first touchdown. And Chris Smelley lit up the secondary to help South Carolina gain a 14 point lead in the first quarter. Carolina came back in all of these games after correcting their defensive issues.

The Solution: There isn’t a very clear-cut way to deal with this particular issue. Protecting the ball obviously helps, keeping both possession and momentum in your favor early in the game. The offensive line also has to do its job. It’s difficult to get much of anything done if the O-line gets pushed 2-3 yards into the backfield. On defense, it’s about controlling the line of scrimmage early in the game. That shouldn’t be a problem for the defensive tackles, but Carolina may show a bit of weakness at the ends. If Carolina puts E.J. Wilson on one side of the line and QUANTAVIUS THE MAGNIFICENT behind the other DE, it should probably patch up any glaring issues at the line.

The Tally: Many other factors belie whether or not a team gets off to a good start in a game, but at least breaking even in the first and third quarters should be worth an extra 1.5 to 2.5 victories this season.

(Photo: Inside Carolina/Jim Hawkins)