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UNC 24, Duke 19

Tar Heels vs Blue Devils boxscore

As one of the guys I was watching the game with put it, "I can't imagine why Duke is giving up 450 yards a game."

That particular comment was in response to a Duke player attempting to tackle Anthony Elzy by bumping him, a good five yards from the sideline. Elzy would finish 116 yards on 23 carries it what was a banner day for the offense. The Heels finished with 519 total yards, T.J. Yates had 264 through the air and set whatever career and season passing records he didn't already own. So why did they only score twenty-four points?

Because Duke can kick, and UNC's special teams are a mess. An absolute mess. The Heels started on drive beyond their own 20-yard line, and that was an end-of-half interception. This meant long slogs for UNC, as all of their scoring drives were 80+ yards. The other drives too often ended poorly, with one missed field goal, one failed fourth-down quarterback sneak and a late-game safety just to keep thing interesting. UNC now gets a little less than a month of extra practices before what will surely be an underwhelming bowl game. And I've got to say, I'm not sure the extra practice will help.

After a good stretch in the middle of the season where UNC had most of the player of suspension and things finally seemed to be coming together, Carolina ends the regular season losing two of their last three. The special teams, as yesterday showed, are still in disarray; the offensive line was letting even the Duke defensive line into the backfield all too quickly. The passing game is working, but only because Yates relies on quick short throws that can beat the inevitable pass rush. The defensive secondary is slipping, with Sean Renfree completing 16 passes to his top three wide receivers. Injuries have taken their toll, and I'm not sure the team has it in them to turn things around the second time this season; with the most likely bowl opponent as middle-of-the-pack SEC team or an overachieving Mountain West school, things could go poorly in December.