PARTY LIKE IT'S 1981!!!!
It was on for the first snap when T.J. Yates found Dwight Jones for an 81-yard TD to put UNC up 7-0. By the time it was over, Yates had 325 yards passing and three TDs. Dwight Jones went for 198 yards and two scores. Cats and dogs were seen outside Scott Stadium making out. UNC walked out of Charlottesville winners for the first time since 1981.
This game marked the appearance of the bend but don't break, opportunistic defense we have seen before from UNC. UVa ended up with over 300 yards of total offense with almost half of that coming on the ground. UNC has trouble stopping the run but when it came to he pass, the Heels collected five interceptions, one of them a pick-six. UVa used three QBs on the night and Mike London's confidence in his signal caller reached such a low point that UVa ran the ball into the gut of the line from the UNC two on 3rd and 4th down to no avail. In short the defense was not great but at the same time the defense made plays when it counted.
On offense, Yates did whatever he wanted. UNC had issues running the ball at times. Shaun Draughn led the team in rushing coming mostly in the 2nd half. Johnny White had a few yards less than Draughn but UNC stuck with the passing game and kept finding big plays. Jones was the biggest recipient. Zach Pianlto and Erik Highsmith had their share of touches. Unfortunately Pianalto fractured his fibia which could cost the Heels one of the best receivers for the balance of the regular season. Given Pianalto is Yates' primary safety valve, hopefully it will not have a deleterious effect on Yates' decision making going forward.
UNC dominated a team they should have after eking out a tough win vs a good team last week. After six games, the Heels are 4-2 with the two defeats coming in close games which UNC could have conceivably won. The Heels are now 2-1 in the ACC and facing the tougher half of the schedule with road games at Miami and FSU while hosting Virginia Tech and NCSU. Going 2-2 in those games(and one of those wins has to be vs NCSU) would give UNC an eight win season assuming they beat William & Mary and Duke. Given the personnel losses UNC has endured with two NFL caliber defensive lineman never taking the field, a viable offensive option on Greg Little also lost and playing with a patchwork secondary, there is no way to full underscore what a phenomenal job this team has done in putting the NCAA mess aside and playing as well as they have.
Two questions: UNC has turned back the clock to 1981, can they go back one more year to an ACC title? Also, is 4-2 enough to crack the top 25 now the voters have a grasp of what this team is going to look like going forward?
Additional Note: RB Ryan Houston did not play despite being cleared. Butch Davis said Houston had not prepped for the game and not taken contact in six to seven weeks. The possibility of a redshirt will be discussed with Houston and his parents assuming injuries do not press him into service. Sounds like a fine idea to me.