Uh, this may be short on the former and long on the latter.
I wrote a couple of weeks ago about how numbers can be deceiving when looking at football statistics. If you didn't see the Carolina-Clemson game and I told you that UNC scored 38 points and Bryn Renner threw for 264 yards and two TDs; Clemson held a slight advantage in total yardage, 450-418; in time of possession 31 minutes to 29; and that UNC held the Tigers to only 77 yards on the ground and scoreless in the 4th quarter, you might have expected a close game. Then again, the Heels had six turnovers, including two returned for touchdowns, and Carolina was on the receiving end of a three-touchdown beatdown that was only reduced to three touchdowns by two garbage-time UNC scores.
But in the effort to be fair to the format, I will at least try to find something good for this week's GBU report:
T.J. Thorpe: Doesn't get any better than a 100-yard kick return for a touchdown.
Zach Brown: A bright spot for an otherwise decrepit defense. Brown had seven tackles and two sacks.
Dwight Jones: Did he even make the trip to Clemson? Only two catches and a complete non-factor in the offense.
Defensive Line: Speaking of non-factors, what should have been a strength of this team is completely non-existent. Then again, they are often not helped by the defensive play-calling that drops 8 into coverage and gives them no help pressuring the offensive lines.
Offensive Line: In this category instead of the "ugly" section because they only allowed one sack and one tackle for loss. But they are routinely man-handled and for the 7th week in a row, I remain astounded at their inability to open holes between the tackles for the running backs.
Fundamentals: This team is fundamentally lacking. They don't block well or execute well and their tackling is atrocious. This lies squarely in the purview of the position coaches, none of whom are in an "interim" status...yet.
Turnovers: Six of them. Three fumbles and three interceptions. Two defensive touchdowns - by the same player! That is all.
Penalties: Nine penalties for 62 yards, and a couple of other potentially big ones that were declined. This tally included two delay of game penalties, one of which was out of a time out. Really?
Bryn Renner: Completing 60 percent of your passes for nearly 300 yards and two scores is normally a recipe for success, unless you throw three picks and fumble another one and directly give up two defensive TDs. Renner regressed yet again with his decision-making and looked tentative throwing the ball. Even the two TD passes were not clean but were the result of some nifty catching by Jhay Boyd. On the other hand, Renner has a new BFF in Kourtnei Brown.
Defensive Secondary: Permanent residents in the ugly category, the secondary was again essentially useless as Clemson QB Tajh Boyd threw for 5 TDs. The fact that they are still blowing coverages in game 8 is a clear sign they are just not going to get better. And Tim Scott (granted, a freshman) trying to strip the ball rather than make a clean tackle resulting in a touchdown is a microcosm of how badly this unit has played.
So what to make of how things are going at this point? I have pointed out for weeks now that this team is not getting better game-to-game. And yet they were only down a TD at the half to a top-10 team before the wheels came off. Everyone knew this stretch of games, from the Miami game to the Virginia Tech game, was the brutal part of the season for UNC. Essentially the success of Carolina's season will come down to the next two weeks. The Heels face a solid Wake team for homecoming followed by a trip to Raleigh to face the Wolfpack. UNC must earn at least a split of those two games to have any hope of salvaging the season.