Missouri 41, UNC 24

Can't run, can't defend, can't win.

The best thing I can say about this game is that it wasn't a disaster from the start. In fact, it was a very good start, with the Heels putting together a series of quick passes ending with a 22-yard touchdown strike to Dwight Jones. Carolina had drawn first blood less than three minutes into the game; things we're looking quite promising.

And then the defense took the field. Or a group of people purporting to be the Tar Heel defense did, anyway. Missouri's first touchdown was an understandable lapse, with wide receiver T.J. Moe throwing a forty-yard pass to Wes Kemp; a trick play, but not one UNC hadn't seen in practice. The second touchdown was an eighty-yard drive where five of the nine plays were for five yards or more. And a lot of them was on the ground, including a 26-yard De'Vion Moore dash. It was the start of a worrisome trend – Carolina couldn't defend the run to save their lives. Missouri would have nine rushes of ten yards or more in the first half, and finish with a ridiculous 337 yards on the ground. Quarterback James Franklin was the biggest offender, running the ball himself on back-to-back-to-back plays on both the fourth and fifth scoring drives without much protest from the UNC defense.

Yes, I said fourth and fifth scoring drives. In the first half. The Tigers scored on every drive in the first thirty minutes; UNC, did not. Some of it was the offense's fault, such as when Giovanni Bernard fumbled on the Heels' own 40. Some of it was pure chance, as when a pass was bobbled by Dwight Jones, and then did this happened:


So yeah, not much you can do about that. The incomplete passes, tackles for a loss, and Bernard's eight carries for twelve yards in the first half I can quibble with though.

The second half was at least better than the first. The defense came out invigorated, forcing an interception by Zach Brown on Missouri's opening drive. UNC couldn't capitalize however, and their touchdown on the following drive – a 44-yard shot to Jheranie Boyd – was answered immediately by a short touchdown drive after a fifty-yard kickoff return from Moe. After that, the offense sputtered, not scoring again until four minutes remained. By then it was all over but the broken trophy.

In the end, the game was a fiasco. The running game was completely nonexistent, the passing game was spotty, and the defense was a travesty. The best I can say is that Boyd and Erik Highsmith had big games, and made a good case that Larry Fedora will have a lot of talent to work with next season. In all other ways, the game reminded me of the Georgia Tech matches of the past few seasons, or Clemson where the opposing offenses could score at will. Hopefully this is the last we'll see of that type of game for quite some time.

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