Upon further review, Tate said his favorite play of the night was the first-quarter punt return, because it broke legendary Tar Heel Charlie "Choo Choo" Justice's school record for overall touchdown returns. Justice had five from 1946 to 1949, four on punts and one on a kickoff. Tate has six -- three on punts and three on kickoffs.
His biggest disappointment: the shoestring tackle in the fourth quarter that kept him from setting the ACC record for all-purpose yards. "If not for that, I might have scored again,'' he said.
As it is, Tate -- who has been inspired by former Miami Hurricanes star Devin Hester and former Florida State standout Peter Warrick -- figures more teams might start kicking away from him this season, especially since he is only 483 yards shy of the NCAA record for kickoff return yards.
So he's left pondering if there are any more ways he can put points on the board.
Keeping company with Charlie "Choo Choo" Justice is elite stuff. The question going forward is how dangerous can Tate be, especially in kickoff and punt returns. Tate mentions Devin Hester, who is a freak of nature with some of the returns he manages with the Chicago Bears. It would be a huge lift if UNC had that kind of game breaking play from Tate on a regular basis. Kickoff and punt returns, if done consistently well, can garner field position and occassionally the momentum swinging touchdown. Besides that Tate also has almost 200 yards withing the context of the offense meaning that opposing defenses have to pay attention to him. Will he run the ball? Will he run a pattern as a receiver? And having guys like Hakeem Nicks and Brooks Foster means defense cannot focus solely on Tate or they will get burned elsewhere. Hopefully, Tate can be enough of a distraction to the defense it can open the door for the running game which is badly in need of a confidence building game to change the complexion of the offense.