What a crazy year 2010 has been: UNC basketball in the NIT, the football unpleasantness, and Carolina actually wins a football game in Charlottesville.
To quote Coach Yost from Remember the Titans, "Run it up, Herman. Leave no doubt!" From the first play from scrimmage, the Tar Heels set the tone that the Scott Stadium curse would end this night as Carolina scores a 44-10 victory over Virginia.
Good T.J. Yates showed up for the first time in a couple of weeks and rescued a stagnant running game while the defense gave up a bunch of yards but picked off five interceptions and stopped Virginia twice inside the 5-yard line. Carolina essentially bulled through the Hoos and erased nearly three decades' worth of bad memories at Mr. Jefferson's university with a big win that allows UNC to keep pace in the Coastal Division race with a key game at Miami coming next week.
So while we party like it's 1981, here is this week's GBU Report:
T.J. Yates: Yates' arm set the tone against the Cavaliers as he sliced and diced the nation's 10th-best passing defense for 325 yards and three touchdowns on 17-22 passing. Nice to see him back after a couple of so-so weeks.
Dwight Jones: Seven catches for 198 yards and a touchdown, and a half-yard from another touchdown. He took a simple slant and turned it into an 81-yard TD run and Carolina never looked back.
Casey Barth: A solid 3-for-3 effort, all in the mid-30 yard range. Those need to be automatic for Barth and it was good to see they were.
Five interceptions: An amazing number, and they included INTs by the defensive backs, linebackers, and even a defensive lineman.
Linebackers: Zach Brown, Kevin Reddick, and Bruce Carter combined for 24 tackles and two interceptions, including Brown's 70-yard return and Reddick's pick-six.
Fourth-quarter domination: For the 3rd straight week, UNC dominated the time of possession in the 4th quarter, this week keeping the ball for over 10 of the 15 minutes. Hard for the other team to score when Carolina is able to kill the clock.
Run defense: UNC allowed 150+ yards on the ground, including 107 to Keith Payne alone. On the defensive front, Quenton Coples had a huge day with 11 tackles, including 3 for loss and 1.5 sacks, but the rest of the D-line had a subpar day as Donte Paige-Moss had as many penalties as tackles and backup Linwan Euwell, who hadn't played in 5 weeks, had almost as many tackles as starters Paige-Moss, Tydreke Powell, and Tim Jackson combined.
Kickoff special teams: On both kickoffs and kick coverage, the Heels were terrible. Two kickoffs went out of bounds giving UVa the ball at the 40 and twice more kick returns went to the 40 and beyond. A good team makes UNC pay for those errors.
Punting: Granted, UNC only had to punt twice, but C.J. Feagles only averaged 34 yards per kick (although one was inside the 20). As the schedule gets tougher and UNC will need to change field position through the kicking game, this may turn into a real liability.
Zack Pianalto's leg: Really? Again? As Pianalto scored his first touchdown, I yelled at the screen for him to FREEZE!! and don't risk another post-TD injury. Pianalto would score again without incident but alas it was too good to be true as the senior has fractured his right fibula (that's the bone in the back of your calf). Pianalto broke his left fibula in 2008, so now he has a matching set. His loss will be huge as he has a team-high 27 receptions this season.
Penalties: UNC had 9 penalties for 84 yards and nearly all of them were significant in terms of yardage or field position. Sloppy effort by the Heels in this area given this has not really been a problem for them this season.
Offensive line: Yet another weak effort by a group that was to be much improved this season. For the most part they were unable to open holes consistently for the running game and had one penalty that erased a touchdown and another that killed the two-minute offense late in the first half. This group must get better as things only get harder from here.
UVa's uniforms: I add this one for my 8 year-old daughter, who looked at the game and said, "Orange is ugly. And orange tops and orange pants are especially ugly. If they had orange helmets, they would look like pumpkins!" Well said, sweetie.
It is said that the goal over the course of the season is to get better every week, and in many phases of the game, UNC is improving as they notch their 4th consecutive win. This has been one of Carolina's best efforts over 60 minutes and they will need more of this as they head to Miami to help the Hurricanes find their swagger yet again. Butch Davis has owned his former team while at UNC, but nothing can be taken for granted at this point. Still, UNC has done amazing work to be 4-2 at this point next week will surely be a referendum on how the rest of the season might go.