This game turned on two plays. The first was an 81 yard TD reception by Jhey Boyd that would have put UNC up 24-3 in the first half and who knows may have sucked the life out of FSU. Instead the Heels get called for holding and end up punting it away. FSU then manages a FG before the half on the subsequent possession. The second play came in the 3rd quarter with UNC up 24-13. T.J. Yates throws a terrible INT on a pass to Greg Little in double coverage that never should have entered his mind as an option much less actually throwing it. Especially considering Yates had receivers underneath that could have picked up a quick ten yards. Instead he forces it and FSU intercepts on the three which becomes the one and a half following the Seminoles' gazillionth delay of game penalty. No worries, they only managed to get a 99 yard TD pass out of the deal and that did suck the life out of the UNC defense. In those two plays were 17 points heading the wrong way for the Heels. Seeing UNC ended only needing four to win the game, it was a totally preventable loss.
The offense performed about as well as it has all season. Granted the FSU defense is truly that bad and had UNC wanted to I am sure they could have gone around the ends all night long. Check that, they did go around the ends all night long running the ball. Of course that is where conventional wisdom rears its ugly head and coaches think they need to mix in some passing after lulling the defense into looking for the run. The problem is Yates is not capable of putting the ball where it needs to be. He just cannot do it and any notion that he could do it developed from Hakeem Nicks and Brandon Tate creating receptions out of thin air or literally pulling them out of their hindquarters. In short Yates is not good and possibly the worst QB in the conference. That being said, the offense did put up 27 points which I thought would be enough to win the game. Yates INT was bad since it potentially cost UNC points see that they were knocking on the door. That, however is pure speculation as to where that drive was going. Of course it was not all bad and if Yates wants to be an actor, I am sure someone could find him a spot. Yates pulled off one of the best fakes I have ever seen by walking away from the center with his arms out at the UNC sideline as though he did not understand the play while it was directly snapped to Shaun Draughan on 4th and three. Draughan ran for the first down. Speaking of the UNC rushing attack, it can actually be called that in this game though the "FSU sucks on defense" disclaimers apply. Still, Draughn and Johnny White made several big runs that keep the ball moving and UNC in the game. It just was not enough.
As for the defense, the 2nd half of this game looked a lot like the 2nd half of the Georgia Tech game. After playing two quarters of inspired football on the defensive side aided at times by the complete ineptitude of the FSU offensive unit, UNC simply could not get off the field in the final two quarters. First you had a sustained drive to make it 24-13 followed by the 99-yard TD pass. After that, it seemed like the Heels could not get key stops on 3rd down nor could they stop FSU QB Christian Ponder from slicing and dicing them up in the middle and past the ends. Ponder completed 16 straight passes and when he was not doing that, he ran the ball some to pick up key yards. UNC was unable to get any pressure on Ponder which is a credit to the FSU offensive line but also appears to be the result of UNC not sending as many blitzes, possibly out of fear of being burned on a big pass play. There were shades of the 2008 defense out there in this one and the end stats seems to indicate that was the case. At the end of the day, the defense owns this loss as much, maybe even more than the offense. Twenty seven points should have been enough for one of the best defenses in the country to hold the other team in check. That did not happen and the result was a loss.
Overall it was not a complete waste. Tough loss? Sure but not embarrassing by any stretch and one of those games that a play here or there turns the tide in your favor and you win the game. There will be plenty of handwringing over the play calling in this one as well as criticism of the decision by Butch Davis to punt it away with five minutes left allowing FSU to kill most of the clock. That was probably the best chance they had do something but they opted to give the ball back hoping a worn out and at that point outcoached defensive plan could get a three and out. Davis lost that gamble and subsequently the game. However that's football and life really.
Also, to FSU fans. Our deepest apologies for keeping Bobby Bowden viable as your head coach. Maybe next year he will be so out of it, there will be ten delay of game penalties.