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Mid-Season Report Card: The Numbers

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Yes we can talk all day long about coaching and personality but the real bread and butter in the discussion of UNC's very sad football program is in the numbers. Here are some which as a Tar Heel fan honestly make you nausea. Please turn away from the computer if you think you are going to be sick.

Sagarin Ranking: 125th out of 241 I-A/I-AA teams

Jeff Sagarin has been publish computer rankings well before the intials "BCS" meant anything. For the purposes of his rankings he throws all of the D-I football programs into the same ranking which makes this even harder to swallow. There are 22 I-AA schools ranked ahead of the Tar Heels including James Madison, Portland State, Northeastern, Princeton and Yale. That's right Princeton and Yale of the freaking Ivy League are both ranked higher in football than UNC. I mean do Ivy League schools even try to recruit quality players? Of course if you factor the I-AA teams out UNC is ranked 103rd among I-A schools, not that makes me feel any better.

Jerry Palm College BCS PSR Ratings: 102nd out of 119 I-A teams

So Palm has UNC about the same spot Sagarin does when you exclude the I-AA schools. You will be happy to know the OC Frank Cignetti's former employer Fresno State is ranked below the Heels. Though I am sure that does not make Cignetti feel any better either.

cfbstats.com Statistics: Defense(out of 119 I-A teams)

Total Defense: 100th(391.6 yards per game)
Scoring Defense: 116th(35.7 points per game)

Rushing Defense: 113th(207.8 yards per game)
Passing Defense: 46th(184.2 yards per game)
Touchdowns Allowed: 114th(29 TDs or 4.8 per game)
Turnovers Forced: 107th(7 fumbles, 1 INT(117th), 8 total)

This is obviously not earth shattering news, though the pass defense was a little surprising. Then again the ranking is based on yards per game and since the UNC run defense is one of the worst in the nation it is little mystery why teams opt to not throw the ball. So it is difficult to say whether the UNC passing defense is actually limiting an opponent's throwing game or the opponents opt to run the ball more often than not. The rest of it is what you would expect. In fact UNC is giving up more points this season than is the average for the first five seasons under Bunting combined. The numbers show that UNC tends to give up too many touchdowns and does not force enough turnovers. UNC has 1 INT all season which may be product of not seeing many passes because teams run more. I think it also illustrates that QBs are either not pressured into bad throws or the coverage is so pourous that balls are not thrown into places where they might be easily intercepted.

cfbstats.com Statistics: Offense(out of 119 I-A teams)

Total Offense: 95th(299.3 yards per game)
Scoring Offense: 99th(17.5 points per game)
Rushing Offense: 81st(119.8 yards per game)
Passing Offense: 81st(179.5 yards per game)
Turnovers Lost: (109th, 12 INTs(119th) 4 fumbles, 16 total or 2.6 per game)
Turnover Margin: (117th at -1.33)

Statistically speaking the offense is nothing to write home about. If the defense was all-world then having the 99th ranked scoring offense in the nation would not be nearly as daunting unless you factor the Furman game out and then the average drops to 12 points a game, so never mind what I just said. The turnovers are the most disconcerting part since you are basically giving the ball away to the other team. The 12 interceptions is a key stat highlighting the decisionmaking problems at QB but the turnovers are even a bigger deal. Not only does UNC give the ball up 1-2 times more than they take it away but the Tar Heels also average 2.6 turnovers a game. That means at least 2-3 times every game UNC will have a offensive drive stopped by a turnover and if those turnovers occur on the wrong part of the field it affords the other team an easier scoring opportunity against an already bad defense. It should be noted that UNC's total offense is ranked only one spot lower than NC State whose fans are becoming more and more frustrated with that team's ability to put points on the board.

ESPN.com Bottom 10: #7

This is not so much a real statistic as it is an indicator of how low UNC has gotten. Being placed on any of these faux lists at ESPN means you are officially a laughingstock. This is rock bottom and factor in more than the statistical realities discussed above but the perceptions people have about a program or team. Being on the same list as teams who are presently winless speaks volumes about the state of the program.