A run down of quotes concerning UNC's win over Virginia Tech.
It’s amazing what successful offensive drives can do for the defense. There is a direct correlation to having 3 drives of nearly 80 yards, which took up serious time, and a fresh Heels’ defense that vexed the likes of Ryan Williams and Tyrod Taylor. The Hokies were held to 246 yards, 6-of-16 on third down, and two turnovers. Taylor, who had completed nearly 75% of his passes in the last three games, was a pedestrian 11 for 23 against North Carolina. Williams had 6 carries from inside the 1-yard-line and zero touchdowns to show for it.
And that happened. Butch Davis punted last week with three and change left in the game against Florida State, hoping for a courteous NFL-style three and out before getting a game-winning kick opportunity, because that is how things happen in a very conservative football coach’s onboard football simulator. Florida State went off-program, picked up a first down, and UNC never saw the ball again.
With five minutes and change left and trailing 17-14, Davis changed the code against Virginia Tech and went for it on 4th and 7 from the VT 36. Yates, 19 yard completion to Greg Little, and the game-tying field goal. Butch Davis is a machine that learns, and after a forced fumble on Hokie RB Ryan Williams UNC took their leisurely time in running down the clock (SHOOP!) and kicking the winning field goal to beat VT by the default ACC score of 20-17.
Just when it looked like North Carolina's experience on Thursday night was not only the worst kind of rerun but a series headed for cancellation, the Tar Heels did something they couldn't do a week ago.
Instead of retreating, they regrouped. Instead of folding, they fought. Instead of another dismal loss on national television, they posted one of the biggest wins of Butch Davis' tenure, knocking off Virginia Tech 20-17 on a Casey Barth field goal with no time left on the clock.
T.J. Yates took as much heat as anyone for what happened last week in the Tar Heels' 30-27 loss to Florida State. If there was redemption to be sought, he found it.
I will tell you a little bit of what I shared with the players in the locker room. In life sometimes you get tests and we got a test last week and didn't do as well as you'd like to do. But life's funny - it gives you the same test again somewhere down the line. I thought our kids today rose up, and they proved something to themselves: if you don't ever give up on yourself, you always have a chance.
Tarheels(sic) upset of VPI makes us the only winless team in the league. The really sad part of this is that we have already played the easiest part of our schedule - Wake, BC, Duke.
I've seen this before. I saw this last week. This was another Carolina late-game failure, another depressing Thursday evening, another long week in October. And yet, it wasn't. Three successful third down conversions, and one success on 4th and seven. Five completions, none over twenty yards, all on short passes, and then a series of rushes to get Casey Barth and easy field goal. Tie game. Not much more you can ask for.
OK, you can ask for a Virginia Tech fumble inside their own thirty and then Ryan Houston grinding away the rest of the clock to set up a winning Barth kick. And hey, Carolina fans got that too! But this was Yates' day, coming back from one of the dumbest passes of the year to put the ball exactly where it needed to be against a Virginia Tech defense they strangely pulled everyone back into coverage. (Even the failed third down touchdown attempt that would have given the Heels the lead was well-placed; Greg Little just misjudged it.) The turnover will remain epically stupid, but the game won't be remembered for it. In an offense not designed for passing - Yates was only 18/28 for a meager 131 yards - he did enough in the clutch to get UNC, 0-4 in conference, a Top-15 win.