It's a matter of perspective, I suppose.
While the 28-27 loss at Wake Forest is no doubt disappointing because it's a game the Tar Heels could have, and even should have, won, how you interpret the results depends on your point of view. If you are a glass half-empty kind of person, there is the same old same old in so many respects: torched secondary, no pass rush, mental mistakes, and an inability to make the plays needed to win close games. If you are of the glass half-full view, UNC was without its top offensive weapon and still got 175 yards from two backup running backs, played well on special teams, held Wake to less than 70 yards on the ground, actually made defensive adjustments to allow the Deacons only one second-half touchdown, and played with its quarterback at less than 50% for over half the game and yet still outscored Wake 13-7 in the second half.
I tend to fall into the optimist category, since the game was odd on so many levels. There was the whole Gio Bernard not playing at the last minute thing, the 1-hour weather delay, the brutal hit on Bryn Renner that disrupted the flow of the offense for the remainder of the game, the nagging injuries throughout the game - it pretty much seemed like everything that could go wrong for Carolina did so, and yet the Heels were right there in the game. Add to the fact Wake's mastery of in-state competition at home - the Deacons haven't lost to a team from North Carolina in Winston-Salem in 8 years - and you can see how perfectly things would have needed to go for UNC, and things did most certainly not go that way for them.
Still, a loss is a loss and it is reflected in this week's GBU report:
Casey Barth: As T.H. of Carolina March (and soon to be of THB) tweeted: It's going to be an awkward Thanksgiving at the Barth household. Casey Barth eclipsed his brother's school record for field goals and there will be some lively discussion about who is the best Barth brother kicker. Congrats to Casey, who is perfect on extra points and field goals through two games.
A.J. Blue and Romar Morris: The two running backs formerly known as Gio Bernard's backups performed admirably in his absence. Blue rushed for 106 yards and a TD, and Morris tacked on 70 more and a TD. Both runners averaged over 5 yards per carry. Solid day's work.
Red Zone Offense: Although UNC was 5-5 in the red zone, two of those were field goals, including one that came after a 1st-and-goal at the 7-yard line. Allow myself to quote myself, from last week's GBU: "...on another occasion Carolina had first and goal and had to settle for a field goal. Against Elon, that’s not a big deal. Against the big boys on the schedule, that could be huge." Don't have to be Nostradamus to figure that one out. Carolina had just scored the tying touchdown, and then forced Wake's one turnover of the day to have 1st and goal inside the Deacon 10-yard line. If UNC puts up 7 there, that might have been it for Wake.
Depth: While UNC is certainly talented in spots, the lack of depth that was a concern all off-season reared its head yesterday. There were pesky, nagging injuries that took players out for a series here and there that really made a difference. Unfortunately this may be an ongoing issue all season.
Pass Defense: Yep, we've seen this one before. Zero pressure on a quarterback allows the weak secondary to get picked apart. What makes this particularly vexing is that Wake had four offensive linemen starting their first or second game.
ACC Openers: For the 10th time in 12 years, UNC has dropped their opening league game. Let that set in for a minute. Over 12 years, under four coaches, Carolina has begun the season 0-1 in the ACC ten times. Simply mind-boggling.
As Brian said in the game wrap, it will be interesting to see how this group reacts to adversity. It doesn't get any easier as Carolina travels to play a top-25 opponent in Louisville with questions on both sides of the ball. We will now see what Fedora and his staff can put together to respond to a difficult loss.