Here's something I wouldn't recommend: Moving into a new apartment on Thursday, then taking off after work on Friday to make the five hour drive to North Carolina for a truly painful football game. Then coming back to a house full of books and no bookshelf, as the latter was a casualty of the move.Oh, and no cable or internet yet either. So the recaps of the Virginia Tech and Lipscomb games are going to be late enough to seem ridiculous, but I feel like getting my thoughts down anyway.
The first interception was understandable. It may have been just slightly underthrown, but Erik Highsmith had a good play on it, and had he come down with it the score would have been 17-6 Carolina, a lead that could have broken the back of the Hokies. The second interception was underthrown into double coverage. I can accept the need to get the wide receivers into the game – the entire receiving corps would finish with three catches on the day, compared to 15 for the backs and tight ends – and you can make the good argument that the distance, coupled with the three-and-out the defense forced resulted in better field position than the Heels were getting my trading punts, but it was still demoralizing. The third interception, again into double coverage, was just stupid, and absolutely killed the best drive UNC had in the second half. The fourth, of course, was desperation, and shouldn't be held against anyone.
So that was T.J. Yates' day. How was yours?
In between the interceptions, the ones that turned the game from almost 17-6 to a soul-crushing 26-10, was the among the more disastrous games played by the secondary in quite some time. Putting aside Da'Norris Searcy's slip-and-fall where he still managed to make contact with the punt he was purportedly trying to receive, the back line of the defense had a truly horrible day. UNC came with the same strategy against Tyrod Taylor thy had used the previous three years; a minimal pass rush to prevent any significant scrambles. And it had worked previously, too. Taylor had never gotten more than 35 yards rushing or 161 yards passing against the Heels. It requires a secondary that can take away all of the QB's good options, and this weekend that secondary failed too often. Taylor completed third-down passes of 37 and 43 yards, which when combined with 46 and 43-yard passes on first, spurred four drives for sixteen of the Hokies points. Combine that with the aforementioned punt muff from hell, and you have Virginia Tech's entire scoring offense.
So where does that leave the Heels? Shellshocked, officially out of the Coastal race, willing to try anything on special teams, and facing a rival that Butch Davis has never bested. On the bright side, if anything will motivate UNC, it will be this, and parts of the team, especially the offensive line that established a decent running game for Anthony Elzy, are playing better than I would have ever expected at this point. UNC is just barely bowl eligible at this point, however, and two wins are necessary to salvage a season that had so much promise before everything went off the rails. Senior Day should end with a win, but at this point I've stopped guessing at what's in this team's head on any particular Saturday.