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The Good, Bad, and Ugly Report: Rutgers

The only thing quick about the Quick Lane Bowl was how quickly UNC was out of the game in an otherwise long afternoon.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Mark Twain once famously said, "There are lies, damn lies, and statistics."

If you didn't actually watch Friday's Quick Lane Bowl between North Carolina and Rutgers and only looked at the stat sheet, you probably wouldn't guess a 40-21 Scarlet Knight victory in a game that wasn't really that close. For example:

  • Although Rutgers put up over 500 yards of total offense, they only out-gained UNC by 42 yards
  • UNC actually had more 1st downs and a slight advantage in time of possession
  • The Tar Heel quarterbacks completed 70% of their passes for two touchdowns and no interceptions, and Carolina had one running back post 110 yards and another put up 62.
  • Carolina surrendered only one sack and ran 86 plays, which is right in Larry Fedora's preferred pace.
  • The Carolina defense only let the Knights into the red zone three times, quarterback Gary Nova only completed nine passes, and Rutgers' biggest playmaker Leonte Carroo was a non-factor with only two catches.
  • UNC did have two turnovers but they only led to six Rutgers points.

But of course stats don't tell the entire story. There were plenty of negative statistics as well, such as UNC giving up 340 rushing yards, including a 200-yard rusher and another 100-yard rusher. The Knights averaged over 8 yards per play and 20 yards per completion. Carolina had only six penalties, but nearly every one of them was either crushing, stupid, or both. UNC had a field goal attempt blocked as well.

Then there are the things that don't show up in the stat sheet. There are no measurable stats for the constant pressure Marquise Williams faced, or for missed tackles. While it only counts as penalty yardage, there is no stat for points not scored because of pass interference. And there is no way to measure UNC's apparent apathy towards this game or towards their season after defeating Duke.

There is no apathy here, however, in the final 2014 edition of the GBU Report:


T.J. Logan and Elijah Hood: The Tar Heel running back tandem logged 172 rushing yards on only 24 carries. Logan put up 110 yards plus three catches out of the backfield, while Hood returned from injury to add 62 more. Usually 172 yards from UNC running backs (and not from Marquise Williams) is a recipe for offensive success, but not on Friday.

Mitch Trubisky: The redshirt freshman quarterback got into the game in garbage time and quickly led Carolina to two touchdowns and to the goal line a third time before giving the ball up on downs. UNC straightened out some early struggles when Fedora stopped rotating Trubisky in the game, but given Williams' finish to the season, expect some quarterback controversy to pop up in spring practice.

Onside kicks: UNC recovered two onside kicks in the 4th quarter. It is amazing that UNC's kickoff coverage was usually pretty good all season and yet its place-kicking is so wretched.


Marquise Williams: Statistically Williams didn't have that bad of a day, going 25-37 for 198 yards and a touchdown and adding 51 yards and a touchdown on the ground. But the offense had no rhythm and Williams' timing and touch were off, much of which can be attributed to his scrambling for his life most of the day. Still, given that he was very much in the conversation for ACC Player of the Year and first-team All-ACC at quarterback well into November, his fade over the last 3-4 games as an offensive force is both remarkable and puzzling.

Offensive pass interference: In a day where pretty much anything bad that could happen to UNC did, Carolina had not one but two touchdowns wiped away for offensive pass interference. The first call on Ryan Switzer was questionable, while the second on Jack Tabb was clear although rarely called. But that was Carolina's day.

Quinshad Davis' injury: Also from the "any bad thing that could happen did happen" category, the junior wideout broke his right tibia on a fade route in garbage time in the 4th quarter. Davis simply planted and the leg gave way. Davis had successful surgery on Saturday to repair the leg and will miss spring practice but should be ready to go for next season. Davis continued an unfortunate Tar Heel tradition of serious injury in four straight bowl games,following James Hurst's broken leg in the 2013 Belk Bowl, Darius Lipford's blown ACL in the 2011 Independence Bowl, and Deunta Williams' broken leg in the 2010 Music City Bowl.


Penalties: Again, UNC only had six penalties, but they were all crucial, stupid, or both. Senior tight end Jack Tabb had three of the six himself, hitting the trifecta with a false start, kick catch interference, and offensive pass interference that cost UNC a touchdown.

Pass blocking: UNC's offensive line has been a mess most of the season and nothing changed on Friday. Rutgers kept constant pressure on Marquise Williams while only rushing four and sometimes even only three, and it is hard to believe the Knights only had one sack. It is also hard to believe that the O-line did not commit any penalties, but then again they would actually have to hit someone to get a penalty and they offered only token resistance against the pass rush.

Kicking and punting: Carolina's ongoing dumpster fire in the kicking game showed yet again in the season finale. The Tar Heels had a field goal blocked and another fake field goal snuffed out. Of course it doesn't help that your senior punter and holder was suspended for the bowl so of course UNC called a fake with a walk-on punter as the holder and trigger man. Plus the punting game that has been a positive for the Heels all season behind Tommy Hibbard wasn't available.

Apathy: For the second straight game, Carolina appeared disinterested and played like it. After showing resilience through most of October and November, UNC seemed satisfied with its season after defeating Duke. The Tar Heels were flat against NC State and again against Rutgers. There were some pointed comments by players, most notably Ryan Switzer, in the locker room after the game, questioning the team's commitment.

Last season, after a spectacular bowl performance, UNC headed into the winter having salvaged the season and talking about building momentum. This season Carolina limps into January with tons of questions following Fedora's first-ever losing season as a head coach. It will be interesting to see how the Fedora and the Tar Heels respond.