Was it better or worse?
I am leaning towards it was neither which is not good for Bunting. There were a couple of hopes for Bunting coming into this one. The first was that Miami had been fairly ineffective on the offensive side of the ball so there was hope that this game would be a good one for the defense to find itself. And statistically speaking the defense was better holding Miami to only 27 points and 324 yards of total offense. Then again this is a Miami offense only averaging 20 points a game and around 364 yards of total offense. In other words it could have been better and as I watched the game I still saw some of the same missed tackles and wide open holes in the defensive front which Miami runners galloped through. The Javarris James 62 yard run was indicative of the same problems seen at Clemson. James was mostly untouched coming through the defense. On onen hand the defense seem to have more energy and effort but generally speaking still was outmatched and unable to effectively make plays to stop Miami. The second hope Bunting had was that the historical pattern of great play after a bye AND a blowout loss. The ineffectiveness of Miami's offense also engendered the possibility UNC could hang with Miami and if the Tar Heel offense responded with a great game UNC might have a chance to win. Unfortunately the offense looked almost as bad as the defense. Granted Miami has a great defense and is able to pressure the QB any number of ways but the offense was effectively horrible in every facet. The Heels only got 58 yards of rushing, and the passing resulted in only one-third of the pass being completed Cam Sexton threw two interceptions and suffered a concussion. Joe Dailey came in and was practically worthless even though the second string defense was on the field.
The problem is UNC had a bye week and the opportunity to find what they needed to get better. It was evident in this game that while the players put forth the proper effort, there are still too many things fundamentally wrong with this team. While the defense has received most of the focus, the offense today showed they have a long way to go. Part of the reason the offense draws less ire is because they are mostly made up of younger players and the QB position is being developed. The questions surrounding the offense will undoubted spill over into concerns whether the current coaching staff can properly develop it into a productive unit. As for the defense it was more of the same. Sure the numbers looked slightly better, most would agree the Miami offense has been soft at best and one would think if the UNC defense was improved they would have done a better job controlling the Hurricane's offensive output.
In short, Bunting got zero help from this performance and if anything it deepened the malaise in Tar Heel Nation as well as further entrenched the perception that UNC is simply not going to get better this season. That is the downside of a bad performance after a bye week, it screams lack of good coaching and preparation to come out flat against a team you have had two weeks to prepare for. In light of the problems that were seen at Clemson, the players really had no choice but to come out and play better. So having resolved that issue, it was on the coaches to produce a effective game plan which the players had the skill sets to execute. Once again that does not seem to be the case.
UNC is at 1-4 and against South Florida it is either bail water or sink for the Bunting staff.