Discussing the comeback win over Georgia Tech and wondering did UNC turn the corner?
Brian: So for 26 minutes of game time on Saturday we all thought "Here we go again" then UNC got its act together on offense, the defense followed suit and UNC broke a long losing streak in Atlanta. I've seen multiple people call this a signature win for Larry Fedora. Agree or disagree.
Paul: I led my recap with that exact phrase, so I agree, signature win. Carolina can seriously contend for a division title this year. They face 3 notable opponents now--@Pitt, home for Miami and home for Duke. If they win those three, then they'll win the division. Carolina hasn't been in this situation in years, so I'll say it has to be a signature win.
Doc: It's only a signature win if they do something with it. For now it's only a cathartic win over a 2-3 team that may not be who we thought they were. For example, in 2001 John Bunting's UNC teams crushed both Florida State and Clemson and beat Auburn in the Peach Bowl. How did that turn out the next two years? And the Miami win in 2004? Same thing.
The thing for 2015 is the division is wide open. UNC just got past its biggest nemesis, and its second biggest nemesis in divisional play, Virginia Tech, is also struggling. With Miami and Duke at home, the division is there for the taking. That is what would turn out to make this a signature win.
Brian: If I can invoke some tennis terms here, UNC stayed on serve. Even with the clusterfark the Coastal can be, losing your first ACC game means you are already behind the eight ball. It is quite the refreshing change to game out the next three weeks and think "Hey, 4-0 in the ACC with Duke and Miami coming to town is doable"
However to Doc's point this is UNC football we are talking about here and under Fedora there seems to be a penchant for not handling success particularly well. Last year's Duke win was followed by a dud versus NC State at home. In 2013 UNC faced Duke at home with a five game winning streak and a shot to keep the Blue Devils from winning the division but fell short losing 27-25. UNC hasn't shown the ability to string together success thus far even going back to Butch Davis and John Bunting.
Is there anything to indicate this could somehow be different? Does the bye week help the team get past the win and refocus for Wake Forest?
Doc: I think the bye week helps bring the team back to earth, but to me the biggest takeaway from Saturday was some resiliency that actually led to a victory. UNC has had a couple of "moral victories" over the past few years (like Notre Dame last year) but an honest-to-goodness, reach down, get a big stop, and come from behind to win the game thing is some uncharted territory. That to me is the keystone of the whole game. Was that a fluke or is this going to be a characteristic of this team going forward?
Paul: I think that it's important to note that we view the team a lot differently if they win in week 1. Carolina has had 400+ yards of offense in every game so far this year. Carolina has blown out every team at home this year and under Fedora has played better at home than on the road. That makes me not as concerned since all of Carolina's key divisional games are at home this season. The team also doesn't seem like one where a let off is easy since the defense has been so good with its back against the wall this season that those players know that they can perform when it seems unlikely otherwise. The Heels have a great schedule this year and appear primed to take advantage of it.
Brian: Shifting gears now. Who is the bigger genius? Larry Fedora for sticking with Marquise Williams even after the first two possessions were hot garbage AND motivating him with the Delaware benching. Or is it Gene Chizik for getting the defense right in the second half.
Paul: I say Chizik because he clearly understood how to counter Georgia Tech as the game went on. Fedora on the other hand had Williams' performance against the Yellow Jackets last season to serve as an example for what he could do. Now to which was more surprising...probably Fedora's decision.
Brian: I've also heard it suggested that one issue UNC had early in the game was adjusting to the triple option at game speed and against the team that is an expert in running it. Once they had halftime to digest it, make adjustments, reinforce what was taught in practice, UNC handled it much better.
Yes, pulling Williams after the first two possessions under the reasoning they needed a spark wouldn't have surprised anyone. However, Georgia Tech was far worse against the run then they were the pass so the best thing UNC could have done was simply run the ball & let Marquise Williams do Marquise Williams things. That was how they scored the two late first half touchdowns with heavy doses of Hood and Williams.