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Weekly Report Card: NC State

The Heels were steamrolled in their season finale 35-7 by NC State.

Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

In their regular season finale Carolina played arguably its worst game of the season, getting demolished by NC State at home. NC State out-muscled Carolina, winning both lines of scrimmage then entire game while sloppy Tar Heel tackling and apparent disinterest from the defense allowed NC State to pound the ball down Carolina's throat for 60 minutes. The Heels allowed 388 rushing yards on 58 carries for a tidy 6.7 yards per carry. The result of this game had both Carolina and State fans labeling the Heels as 'soft'.

Carolina never really made this game close while being beat up on each side of the ball. In many respects this was both the worst and most demoralizing loss of the year, even worse than the beatings the Heels took at ECU and Clemson; this was a home game, Carolina was favored to win this game by nearly a touchdown, and the UNC-NC State rivalry is more significant than their rivalries with ECU and Clemson.

The Heels did secure bowl eligibility by virtue of their victory over Duke, it will be interesting to see the Heel's opponent, if their rushing attack is anywhere near as formidable as State's then the Heels could be in for another whooping.

The Grades

Let's go do that again: F

Carolina submitted its best game of the year in a pasting of Duke... and then did the exact opposite against State. The offense never really got on track, coaching was slightly questionable at best (kicking field goals this year anyone?) and the players just didn't seem to play as hard as they did against Duke. Bug Howard and Quinshad Davis played alright, Davis caught a garbage time TD to tie Hakeem Nicks' school record for receiving touchdowns.

Keep Marquise clean: F

The Heel's plans on offense fall apart if Marquise Williams lacks time to throw and make reads... and State exploited it. Williams was sacked 3 times and hurried many more. Eventually State injured Williams on a sack, forcing him out of the game. Not that Carolina's offense was good with Williams on the field but after he left the game it was clear that the Heel's chances at victory were 0.

Just beat State: FAIL

This was a game for pride, as well as one to maybe throw a little more bowl cash UNC's way. The players didn't get up for this game at all and they just played soft. Last week Coach Larry Fedora said his players wouldn't have any issues with a hangover from the Duke win, saying, "We're playing the team in red and that's all that matters."  Fedora didn't really have the power to affect this game more than he and NCAA sanctions already have--a lack of quality recruits on both lines seems to be the Heels' main weakness after a game like this.

The bottom line is that Heels took a step sideways this year, Fedora has now recorded back to back 6-6 regular seasons, as well as the second worst FBS record in the state (above only Wake Forest and behind State, Duke, ECU and Appalachian State) and Fedora does seem to have an issue with beating the other North Carolina schools. Against the other FBS programs in the state, Fedora has been less than stellar (UNC has not played Appalachian State while Fedora has been the coach):

Wake Forest: 0-1

Duke: 1-2

NC State: 2-1

ECU: 1-2

Even the one school Fedora has a winning record against, State, Fedora's teams now have a negative point differential (-12) against courtesy of this beat down. And after beating ECU in year one, the Pirates have blown out the Heels these past two seasons (Fedora has a -32 point differential against ECU). Despite the small sample size, these results matter a lot as UNC gets its football scholarships back. UNC competes with other North Carolina schools, especially NC State, for recruits. If Fedora can't beat these other schools there are no football reasons to expect the quality of players UNC can recruit to improve.