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Miami 30 UNC 24

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Regression or too little too late. Take your pick.

With newly named AD Bubba Cunningham on hand for his first live introduction to UNC football, the Heels did exactly what you shouldn't do when the interim head coach is angling to make it a permanent gig: They came out completely flat.

UNC fell behind 14-0 before the offense even saw the field giving up an easy TD drive then T.J. Thorpe fumbled the the kickoff to set another score. After that constant issues getting stops on third down and more lapses in the secondary eventually led to a 27-3 deficit. UNC got a late first half TD to make it 27-10 and had a great chance to rally in the second half with an offense that did show the ability to move the football. Only it didn't happen. UNC did hold Miami scoreless for most of the 2nd half until a late FG but the offense simply could not put points up. Moving the ball did not seems to be an issue but the first drive of the half stalled at midfield while the second was undone by a Bryn Renner fumble. Speaking of Renner, I am loathe to criticize him too much but he was really rattled today. Renner did a fair amount of second guessing on the first read, double clutching the ball and not squeezing the trigger on sure completions. At one point Gio Bernard stood 10 yards in front of him with no one around him and instead of making the quick pass to Bernard who probably would have gotten 10-15 more, he clutched the ball then got sacked. I am not sure Renner is regressing but he appeared to apprehensive about making the quick decision.

At any rate, UNC did close to 27-17 but turned the ball over on downs late in the fourth quarter then gave up a FG. All of sudden the offense found itself and scored with 45 seconds left. UNC recovered the onside kick and got as far as the 30 when Renner was sacked. After clocking the ball, UNC then did the inexplicable with seven seconds left and no timeouts. They threw a short pass and attempted a couple of laterals. Never mind UNC has a receiver with the size and hands of Dwight Jones who can get position in the endzone and go after a jump ball. No, let's run some crap play that would only work if the Stanford band made a cameo. Which is probably the biggest issue with John Shoop among many. He overthinks plays like these. In this case Shoop must have thought Miami would be ready for the Hail Mary so they went with something funky. This is why the Music City Bowl ended the way it did because Shoop called for a run with no timeouts because "hey, they won't be expecting us to do that!" Given the odds, I would feel much better knowing Renner threw a jump ball to Jones that whatever the heck that last play was.

For a few weeks now we have had our numerous concerns comforted by winning. That is not our luxury today as the issues we have fretted about for six weeks come back to bite the team in the worst possible way. The fact UNC only started registering sacks late in the 2nd half or that Miami can run the same screen pass over and over with no change in the defensive scheme. In fact the only reason Miami stopped running one of their screen is because Charles Brown almost killed a Miami player. Outside of that it was open receivers and atrocious tackling all day long.

On the offensive side, the biggest problem is the lack of points. UNC did not capitalize on good drives but the stats say the Heels were pretty good offensively. While Renner had the yips at times making passing decisions he still ended up 29-37 for 288 yards and two TDs. Dwight Jones had 82 yards and a TD. Erik Highsmith continues to do well with 74 yards and a 14.8 ypc average. Gio Bernard continues his assault on the 1000 yard mark with 110 yards on 27 carries and a TD. Bernard also added 72 yards receiving for a 182 all purpose yards on the day. The offense is good and if they could simply finish certain drives with points they can probably win a shootout with practically anyone. The defense is simply not as good as it needs to be on every play. That is a coaching and personnel issue but until it gets fixed, scoring as many points as humanly possible is the best solution.