(Cue ESPN 30 for 30 piano intro)
What if I told you...your college football team would have nearly 450 yards of total offense...run 82 plays...block a field goal...score on a fake field goal...get points on four of its first five possessions...only give up one sack...put up 41 points...and lose by more than four touchdowns.
That was Carolina's day on Saturday in Greenville as East Carolina sliced and diced UNC for 70 points, almost 800 yards of total offense, and rewrote a significant portion of both the Pirate and Tar Heel record books. The way the game ended, it was hard to believe UNC actually held a 20-14 lead before the wheels came off and Carolina gave up 28 straight points to leave no doubt. Even then, it felt like fool's gold as UNC scored from its bag of tricks while ECU was moving the ball at will.
It's hard to focus on the good things that UNC did - take care of the ball, get a huge special teams play on a blocked punt, only surrender one sack, only turn the ball over once (although it was a monster pick-six), and score 41 points on the road against an obvious top-25 caliber team. But the defense was historically awful and that takes all the shine off the things that went well.
So, we will nevertheless make an effort to fill in the top third of this week's GBU Report:
Junior Gnonkonde: The sophomore had a big day and was one of the bright spots on defense, with two tackles for loss and the big field goal block early in the second quarter.
Romar Morris/T.J. Logan: This half of the running back by committee had a deent day, averaging 5 yards per carry but only had 17 carries between them.
Mack Hollins: Mr. Touchdown didn't find the end zone but did lead the Heels with 92 yards on four receptions.
Tommy Hibbard: Seven punts, zero punt returns for ECU. Oh, and a touchdown pass on the fake field goal. Great day from the punter spot for UNC.
Marquise Williams: The junior signal-caller only posted 127 yards in the air and 37 on the ground, plus the costly pick-six.
Ryan Switzer: When his highlight of the day is a touchdown pass, you know he has been neutralized. Only two receptions and one punt return for a combined 16 yards.
Red zone offense: UNC scored on four of its first five possessions, but two of them were field goals after the Tar Heels had a first-and-goal. Not that it would have made a difference in the outcome, but the mood of the game is surely different if Carolina is up 28-14 early in the 2nd quarter rather than just 20-14.
Shattered records: The Pirates wrote their name all over the UNC defensive record book. Carolina surrendered a school-record 70 points on another school-record 789 yards. And although they were not records, the Tar Heels were victimized to the tune of 98 plays, 438 yards through the air by Shane Carden, 211 yards on the ground by Breon Allen, and a pair of Pirates had over 100 yards receiving while a third almost had 100. No words.
Third down conversions: UNC allowed ECU to convert 12 of 17 3rd down chances. Moreover, one of those conversions was a touchdown on a 3rd-and-28. Seriously.
Defensive penalties: Six of UNC's nine penalties were on the defense. Face mask, pass interference, offsides, personal foul, roughing the passer - you name it.
Last year, ECU ran roughshod over the Tar Heels and it seemed everything that could go wrong for UNC and right for ECU did. It was pretty much the same thing all over again. For some reason ECU has been Kryptonite for UNC because, as Brian noted on Twitter on Sunday, the ECU game was an outlier last year. UNC never gave up more than 30 points again for the remainder of the season after surrendering 55 to the Pirates. UNC is headed into a brutal part of its schedule, heading to Clemson next. Carolina's resilience will certainly be tested especially as injuries mount and panic buttons are being pushed all over UNC Fan-dom. And yet it's easy to forget UNC is still 8-2 over their last 10 games. Will history repeat itself yet again? Will the ECU game be again be the exception? We won't know until we see how the Heels look against the Tigers.