Two comments on a pair of articles in the N&O. First from Robbi Pickeral's UNC postgame clipboard:
First, a last-second field goal by East Carolina. Then, a failed 2-point conversion against Virginia. UNC (1-2) has been used to losing over the past half-decade. But not like this.
And you know what? I'll take it. Yes losing stinks but I am thrilled beyond words to be losing games in this manner versus the lay down and let the other team put 52 points on the scoreboard like happened so many times during the past six years. The difference between 1-2 and 3-0 is a total of five points and five or six crucial mistakes by a young team. These differences can be worked out and the eventual upgrade in talent we believe Butch Davis can accomplish through recruiting will push the program up a couple of levels.
Caulton Tudor also picks up on this and the longheld THF belief that this season is more about what Davis can accomplish in terms of building the program for the future versus success this season:
Be that as it may, it's a lot better than the surrender mentality UNC demonstrated for much of the past decade. This team may not be very good, but thus far the Heels under Davis have not given up or given in.
Trailing 16-0 in the second quarter, the Heels of recent seasons past would have lost by more than two points. They more likely would have lost by 22, or 32.
But down 16-0 just minutes before halftime Saturday, receiver Hakeem Nicks caught a short TD pass from Yates to rejuvenate the team. Then in the third quarter, with the Heels down 19-7, his spectacular 53-yard catch and run for a TD put the Heels in position to have a chance for a win.
Much of the credit for that attitude and determination has to go to Davis and his assistants. Davis emphasized the staff's commitment to improvement through patience Saturday by saying that "some people like to club baby seals."
"I'm proud of them. They're going to make some mistakes. If they make mistakes and they're giving the best effort they can, then we're going to have to live with it until they ... grow up more."
The remaining schedule is such that maturity and improvement probably will not make it any easier to win. Carolina may not be favored in a game again until November.
But Davis' overriding mission is more about the future than the present, and that should not be forgotten in the emotions of two straight losses to long-time rivals.
The emphasis on the last quote was mine. You have to crawl before you can walk and a young team that loses games like this ends usually up pulling out the tough ones down the road when they are older and more experienced. Losing hurts and heartbreaking losses hurt even more but I will take them over being a complete embarrassment on the field. Winning is always preferable but short of winning I will take a young team that has an entertaining passing attack and shows some character on the field in representing North Carolina.
At the present time, this will suffice.