You ever play a video game where you set your skill to the highest setting and your opponent's to "easy"? Saturday's game against Idaho kind of felt like that.
UNC's play against the overmatched Vandals was on such a different level than the visitors that it is hard to accurately assess much of anything. The game was essentially over in the first 6 minutes of the first quarter and most of the second half was getting reps for 3rd-teamers and walk-ons. Carolina set school records for most points scored and for margin of victory, and but for two red zone turnovers and taking the foot off the gas in the 4th quarter, the Heels could have hung more on Idaho. The game will be more known for the sloppy conditions and the sparse crowd who hung around than for the record-busting performance.
Nevertheless there are some things to be taken from the game, as evidenced in this week's GBU Report:
Giovani Bernard: How good was Bernard? He only touched the ball 10 times on Saturday (two rushes, four pass catches, and four punt returns) and gained 150 yards of total offense. Both of Bernard's rushes were for touchdowns. Could there be a connection that the two games Carolina lost were the two games in which Bernard did not play?
Casey Barth: Barth continues to plaster his name all over the UNC record books, with a record-setting nine extra points and a field goal. Barth kicked well despite some high snaps which took some good work by his holder to get down. I commented in the 4th quarter that his kickoffs weren't making it to the end zone because he was probably tired after the 11th time (10 scores and the 2nd half kickoff).
Special Teams: Again, it is refreshing to see this group in the good column after many years of being bad or ugly. UNC blocked two punts and gave Idaho the yips so much that the Vandals took two false start penalties on one punt attempt.
Scoring Offense: In addition to breaking a 98 year-old record for points in a game and margin of victory, Adam Lucas of Tar Heel Monthly points out that the 216 points scored by the Heels in 5 games is more than were scored by Carolina for the entire 1999 (186 points) and 2005 (198 points) seasons.
Team Defense: UNC has not allowed a touchdown in 10 quarters, and only given up 10 points in the second half in five games. The defense also forced five turnovers, including four interceptions and a fumble. Again, quality of competition caveat applies, but that is still laying the hammer down.
Tackling: As dominant as the Tar Heels were on defense, giving up only 189 total yards, there was still some mighty poor tackling on display. You can get away with that against Idaho. Not so much against the big boys.
Pass Rush: This may seem like a small nit to pick on an otherwise dominant defensive day, but the Carolina pass rush generated just one sack and three quarterback hurries out of 36 pass attempts versus an overmatched Idaho offensive line. Given how dominant the defensive front was last week, I was hoping for more of the same on Saturday.
Red Zone Offense: This is becoming an annoyingly regular feature in the ugly section. Carolina was only 5-9 on touchdown chances in the red zone, settling for a field goal once and suffering two turnovers. Again, this is poised to come back and bite the Heels at some point.
So in the end, UNC gets an easy win and lots of guys down the depth chart get snaps, saving some of the starters for next week's showdown with a suddenly struggling Virginia Tech squad. Yes, as Brian said, Idaho does not appear to be very good at football, but then again prior to yesterday, UNC had played over 1,200 football games and had never beaten anyone as badly or scored more points. So we take it for what it is worth and move on to the Hokies, with hopefully the offense and defense firing on all cylinders.