Old Dominion is a team in their transition year into the FBS. Coming into the game they had one win over an FBS team, beating hapless Idaho last week. So it's easy to right off any win against the Monarchs as meaningless. But this was a team that played Pittsburgh close, and ran a similar offense to the ECU team that put up 55 points on the Tar Heels. (Old Dominion's loss to the Pirates this season, was, in fact, more respectable than Carolina's.) Though not as talented as the Pirates, ODU would serve as a good yardstick for how much UNC has improved since September.
The answer is, a whole hell of a lot. The defense had its mental lapses, most famously Tre Boston's lunge for a bouncing punt that gave the Monarchs the ball deep in UNC territory. They allowed Gerard Johnson 143 yards on the ground, including a 81-yard dash to set up ODU's second touchdown. Still, they held Old Dominion to one third-down conversion in 14 attempts, and disrupted a very good passing game with multiple sacks of quarterback Taylor Heinicke.
Oh, and none of that matters since the offense scored 80 points.
You read that right, 80 points. Two less than the basketball team. And if you want a reason to salivate about the future of this team, just check out the number of times it was a true freshman that crossed the goal line. T.J. Logan had four touchdowns — two one-yard rushes, a 99-yard kickoff return, and a 63-yard dash that went from sideline to sideline. That ties Leon Johnson's record for most touchdowns scored by a UNC freshman. Ryan Switzer suffered from ODU's scheme of having the quarterback punt the ball six times to keep him on the sidelines for fourth downs (Hence Tre Boston's error). Switzer settled for two touchdown receptions in UNC's fire-setting second quarter and a 64-yard touchdown on his lone second-half punt return. That's his fourth of the season, another UNC record. Khris Francis rounded out the freshman scoring bonanza, with his second of the season.
Carolina's remaining three touchdowns (the total of 11 is, yes, another UNC record) came from their sophomore receiving corps — Quinshad Davis, T.J. Thorpe, and Kendrick Singleton. Everyone who scored today will be back next season; only Marquise Williams and the kicker Thomas Moor will matriculate after the 2014 season.
This game served as a culmination of UNC's five game winning streak, that brought them from 1-5 and all about abandoned for the season to bowl-eligible and a win over Duke away from a tie for first in the Coastal Division. The competition hasn't been as strenuous, and it sad that Bryn Renner ended his Tar Heel career during this streak with a shoulder injury, but Carolina can look back at this season with a sense of accomplishment now. And for the near future, their going to show up in a lot of record books. Now they just need to knock the Blue Devils out of the ACC Championship game to cap off a perfect November.
And now, an attempt to list the ridiculous number of UNC set today:
- Most yards gained, team. 721. (Previous record 714, against Maryland in 1993)
- Most yards gained, player. Marquise Williams with 469. (Previous record, T.J. Yates, 443 vs. FSU, 2010)
- Highest average gain per play. Marquise Williams with 14.66 yards per play. (Previous record, T.J. Yates, 13.64 vs. Virginia, 2010)
- Most points scored, team. 80. (Previous record 66, against Idaho in 2012)
- Most points scored in a quarter, team. 35. (Ties record against Duke in 2000)
- Most touchdowns scored by a freshman T.J. Logan, 4. (Ties Leon Johnson's record against UTEP and Duke, 1993)
- Most passing touchdowns, player. Marquise Williams, 5. (Ties at least four UNC performances)
- Most punt return for a touchdown (career). Ryan Switzer, 4. (Ties previous record shared by Johnny Branch and Charlie Justice.) Switzer already had the single-season record.
- Most kick returns for a touchdown (season). Ryan Switzer, 4. (Previous record, Brandon Tate with 3 in 2006)