Something tells me Doc's Good, Bad and Ugly is going to put more emphasis on the last one.
It wasn't a pretty game, for either team really. I think the proper euphemism for such a game is "defensive struggle" and that is probably about right though I would not discount offensive ineptitude in this one. Neither team did much to write home about on the offensive side ball in part for lack of execution and also the other team making plays.
For UNC that means we saw vintage T.J. Yates really for the first time all season and no that was not a good thing. Fortunately it was frightfully inconsistent Yates instead of total disaster Yates(although Clemson did erase a Yates INT with a pass interference penalty.) When you see T.J. Yates live, his panic after being in the pocket three seconds or more is palatable. It really looks like Yates is about to freak out and there were several moments where Yates seemed frozen in his decision making because there was no option immediately available. As a result, the offense was pretty much stagnate in the 2nd half with Clemson penalties moving the ball for UNC more so than offensive plays then. The playcalling from John Shoop was as maddening as ever and will someone explain to me why UNC receivers are not taught to go beyond the first down marker? Really? All this underneath crap and expecting the receiver to simply get the rest of the yardage too often results in UNC being short of the first down and that was the case today in some instances.
With the passing game mostly MIA or rather limited to 1 yard passes, it was ultimately Johnny White to bail the Heels out. Of all the weird crap flying around during this season, White turning out to be the best option at tailback might be the weirdest. Heck, I was so focused on Shaun Draughn and Ryan Houston I had not even considered whether White was still on the team or not. Turns out he is and to his credit he is making the most of his last go round. It was not a 100 yard rushing day but it was almost 200 yards of total offense since White has also turned out to be an effective receiving option for Yates in certain spots. White carried the offense with a helping hand from Clemson penalties.
On defense, the return of Deunta Williams to the secondary did not necessarily garner any huge gains. In fact it was Williams' gamble of the Kyle Parker pass to Jaron Brown which resulted in a 74 yard TD for Clemson closing the game to the final margin. It is difficult to blame Williams since that kind of thing is exactly what we expect him to do. We expect Williams to jump on the pass because more times than not, he will come up with the ball and take it the other way for six. Statistically speaking UNC held Clemson to 305 yards of total offense with 74 yards coming on one play. The caveat is UNC was persistently defending a shorter field since C.J. Feagles punting is not, shall we say, anywhere close to the kind of punting his father made his name doing. After watching Feagles I can only assume Grant Shallock is worse which means his punts must go backwards. I feel a classified ad in the Daily Tar Heel coming if this kind of punting continues. The persistent 30 yard punt afforded Clemson better field position which the UNC defense did a good job of handling. The lack of QB pressure was fairly annoying, especially the number of times it seemed like Parker was about to be sacked only to have him complete the play anyway.
Overall it was a good win and really the kind of win we all thought UNC would get before the season started. This offensive production in this game was about what most folks thought for this team. The defense was the monster. The defense was going to keep opponents in check to the point 20-24 points would be enough for one game. That was pretty much what happened today and while it would still be nice to get as many back as possibly, if you are a UNC fan you have to be impressed with the growth of this unit as the season ha progressed.
UNC get their first ACC win and now will try to break through in Charlottesville next week which no one in their right mind will believe until they actually see it happen.