Okay, that's all I've got.
Two things about Bruce Carter. First, the man loves playing in New Jersey. In the game against Rutgers two years ago, Carter had a huge game which included an interception return for a TD. In the game today Carter had another INT and a blocked punt that ultimately leading to 10 of UNC's 17 points. If I am Carter I am really hoping either the Jets or Giants draft me so I can play in New Jersey eight times per season. Secondly, after last week where it felt like Carter and Quan Sturdivant were trying to do too much, Carter showed up and took charge leading a solid defensive effort. Tar Heel Monthly said on Twitter that Carter had been "all over the place in this game."
Now, I am not clinging to any illusions that this Rutgers' offense was the Steve Spurrier Florida teams of the mid-1990s. In fact the Scarlet Knight offense was downright putrid. That still should not take away from the fact UNC made plays when it needed to on defense. The Tar Heel defense over the past couple of years has made its bones on takeaways. Forcing turnovers, especially in the secondary is the bread and butter of the Tar Heel defense. That makes perfect sense when you have the likes of Kendric Burney, Deunta Williams, Charles Brown and Da'norris Searcy in the secondary backing up a linebacker like Carter who can make huge plays. With most of the guys missing for three games now, UNC has not been as effective in forcing turnovers until today. UNC still lost the turnover battle 3-2 but the two UNC did get were huge. Toss a blocked punt in there along with some timely stops and it was a UNC defense doing what we generally expected them to do. Speaking of the blocked punt, Carter has seven in his career at UNC. Seven. Think about how rare blocked punts generally are then consider what it means that Carter has seven of them in four years in Chapel Hill.
I would critique the offense but quite frankly that means I would have to discuss John Shoop and I just ate so that probably would not end well for my laptop. T.J. Yates had another decent game in terms of the statistics. Not much to complain about with 22-30 for 206 yards and only his first INT of the season. Shaun Draughn ended up being the leading rusher with 54 yards on seven carries. Johnny White was not nearly as productive as a week ago with 36 yards on ten carries. White ended up being the leading receiver which points to more short passes from Yates. Then again 22 completions only yielding 206 yards pretty much tells you that Yates was hitting receivers inside of 10-15 yards on most plays.
Should we talk about the "incredibly boneheaded, what in the name of Dick Crum, I can't believe ye who is conservative when you shouldn't be and aggressive when plain vanilla will do" play on 3rd and 2 late in fourth quarter? Now, here at THF we strive to not be reactionary. Our goal is to not be knee jerk in our pronouncements and make sure we take everything into account. Speaking for myself, I really suck at in-depth football analysis whereas Doc has a better grasp on the intricacy of the game. That means I am going to defer to Doc's opinion in The GBU tomorrow.
All that being said. Why on earth would you call a reverse when all you need is two yards and the game is in the bag? Did John Shoop really think "Hey they won't be expecting us to pull a reverse out here, we should totally go for it. It will be fun! Whoo-hoo!" It's like Shoop is Major T.J. "King" Kong in Dr. Strangeglove hopping on the nuclear warhead and riding it like horse as it plummets to destroy UNC's offense. I seriously think Shoop needs to go all George Constanza and do the opposite of whatever his natural inclination is at the moment. Feel like you should run the ball? Pass it downfield. Got a hankering for quick passes four yards from the line of scrimmage? Try a run instead. Again, I am not going to go as far as asking for Shoop's job, that what I have you guys for. However, the reverse call pushed a number of fans who were either sitting on the fence or unwilling to hang Shoop out to dry scurrying to find their torch and pitchfork so they could join the mob.
Setting aside the details for a moment, this was a huge win for UNC. The players who have been burdened with the job of carrying this team while 12 of their teammates sit out have put in some gutsy efforts through three games now. They came close to pulling the first two out. It was nice to see them get over the hump with a win on the road. Winning breeds confidence, especially for the defense who undoubtedly felt shell shocked after being unable to stop Georgia Tech last week. To seal the game with some solid defensive series should do wonders to give these guys some momentum even if it did come vs a weak offensive squad. I assure you none of those guys are thinking about Rutgers absence of offensive proficiency. Tar Heel players are thinking about the fact they made clutch plays with the game on the line. Getting that experience under their belt can only mean good things for the future.