You know that old adage about how if the "black box" always survives the plane crash, then why not make the entire plane out of the same stuff? I feel that way about UNC's second halves versus first halves.
Once again, Carolina sputtered along in the first half before tuning things up and easily defeating East Carolina 27-6 in a game that never really seemed that close. With the win, the Tar Heels dispatch their down east cousins for the 12th time in 15 attempts in the series. The game marked the return of running back Gio Bernard after a 2 1/2-game absence, and while Bernard never truly seemed comfortable running the ball, he did get back to some of his old tricks. On the other side of the ball, the Tar Heels again clamped down in the second half and never allowed the Pirates past mid-field.
Still, UNC was far from perfect and made plenty of mistakes that could have come back to hurt them in another situation. But all in all it was a solid effort to right the ship after a pair of close losses on the road. So with that in mind, here is this week's GBU report:
Bryn Renner: This is how you want your quarterback to play. Renner threw for 321 yards and two touchdowns and efficiently managed the game. He set a pair of school records for both passing yardage and total yardage in two consecutive games is creeping up on 5th place on the all-time UNC passing list in less than a season and a half. He would have had an even higher completion percentage and yardage total if his receivers hadn't dropped so many balls.
Defensive Pass Rush: The defense kept ECU off pace, bringing blitzes from different angles and recording seven sacks, the highest total for the Tar Heels in over a decade. Pirate QB Shane Carden will likely have nightmares about Sylvester Williams, Kevin Reddick, and Jabari Price for the next week.
Tommy Hibbard: How about some love for the Carolina punter? Last season, special teams in general and punting specifically were big question marks for UNC. Hibbard has become a weapon, with a 44.2 yard average and two kicks downed inside the 20.
Casey Barth: Though he uncharacteristically missed a 34-yard field goal at the end of the first half, Barth was 3-for-3 on extra points and has now made 100 XPs in a row. He also set a school record with his 134th extra point.
Second-half Defense: For the third week in a row, Carolina made big defensive adjustments and shut down an opponent in the second half. UNC has outscored opponents 52-0 in the 3rd quarter this year and has only given up 10 second-half points in four games.
Rushing Defense: ECU came into the game with huge struggles in the running game, and yet the Pirates were able to establish a fairly effective running game.
Dropsies: Clearly UNC has depth issues at receiver, but there were at least half a dozen drops by the Tar Heels, including a number by Erik Highsmith, who should be Carolina's top receiver.
Penalties: Carolina had 9 penalties for 91 yards, many of which were simply stupid infractions. Tight end Eric Ebron had three penalties of his own. I can imagine Larry Fedora will have a few Red Bull-laced tirades for UNC's lack of discipline.
The Throwback Pass: Once per game, it seems UNC is going to try a circus play. I may be wrong, but I have yet to see one work. Did John Shoop leave a trick play book in his desk or something?
Again, it wasn't perfect but it was a win and Carolina yet again survives the legislatively-mandated Kobayashi Maru game. With Idaho coming to Chapel Hill next week for what should amount to a cupcake game, UNC has the chance to work out the kinks and get ready for Virginia Tech in two weeks.