Well, now we know.
The quick take on this one is you cannot reasonably expect to win a game when the offense was as putrid as it was in this one. The Heels got a paltry 17 yards on the ground, only 137 yards in the air and turned it over three times. UNC was 1-11 on 3rd down and just never anything material going until the game was out of reach. UNC had trouble putting points on the board and because the time of possession was so out of whack, the opportunities were lacking. Not to mention yet another missed FG from Casey Barth, this one from a very makeable 32 yards out. It was a day full of missed chances for the offense plain and simple.
For their part, the Tar Heel defense was decent at times but there was a "bend but don't break" mentality at work. Georgia Tech was fairly effective in getting something on every play even if it was a few yards then converting on 3rd down to a tune 10-19 versus a defense which came in with a 3rd down efficiency of 22%. Essentially UNC could have used a few crucial stops here and there to force Georgia Tech to punt and change the momentum of the game by putting the offense back on the field It never really materialized and the Jackets owned the 2nd half and the game for that matter with a time of possession north of 40 minutes. UNC no longer has the quick strike offense it had with Hakeem Nicks and Brandon Tate were receivers so only having the ball 17 minutes is not enough to score the necessary points or give the defense a rest.
The bottom line here is UNC did not perform well on both sides of the football. I think some will refrain from criticizing the defense in favor of blaming the offense but it is on defense to get Georgia Tech off the field. That did not happen in the 2nd half in one of the more egregious skewing of possession time I have seen. On the flip side, the offense needs to move the ball, chew up some clock and puts some points on the board to capture the momentum and put pressure on the opposing offense. In other words, this was a failure by the whole team. Yes, the offense probably will get more of the blame but both units needed to be better. That and I think UNC might need a new kicker.
The frustration here is that last season it seemed like the defense was one year away and the offense was in good shape. This season it looks like the defense is in good shape and the offense is a year(maybe more) away. Hopefully there will be a season very soon where both these units are ready to roll without the myriad of questions posed during the past two years.
Anyway, there is still plenty of football left to play. The Tar Heels need to pick themselves up and take care of business against UVa and Georgia Southern before hosting FSU. The Seminoles wet the bed versus South Florida today losing 17-7 which means the Heels have a shot at winning against the Noles in Chapel Hill. There is potential for this team to still improve and how you recover from a loss is just as important in the maturing of a program than winning a game like this one.