Carolina submitted an excellent performance at home on Saturday with a 48-14 blowout win over Illinois. Carolina did well in almost every facet of the game with their only weakness being the lack of a pass rush. The Heels will face stiffer opposition in conference play but this game was a very encouraging performance to help fans rebound from the opening loss to South Carolina.
On to the Grades:
Take Command Early: A
The Heels took command of the game on the first Illinois drive when they stopped the Illini on the two on fourth down. The offense then marched down the field before Marquise Williams was intercepted for Carolina's sole turnover on the day. Even despite the turnover the defense stood tall forcing a three and out before Carolina scored on its next four offensive possessions to take a 20-7 lead into the half. The defense set the tone in this game and let the offense find its footing. So while Carolina took awhile to take a lead, the defense still took command of this game and the result was quickly never in doubt.
Stop the Run: B
I touched on this in the post game analysis piece. The Heels quietly allowed another 227 yards on the ground in this game once again letting an opponent average 5 yards per carry for a game. The Heels defense did bend rather than break in this game which is obviously an improvement from last year. However, the Heels still have some shaping up to do if they want to beat Georgia Tech or do well in conference play.
Shut Down Geronimo Allison: A
Des Lawrence and M.J. Stewart once again had a great game against a number one receiver. Allison had four catches for 53 yards but his best catch was a 19 yard out that he got against prevent coverage to set up the 57 yard FG Illinois missed. M.J. Stewart's interception was an Allison target and the Heels contained him all day.
If the Heels continue to perform at high levels like this then they could win eight games this year something that would really improve Larry Fedora's job security.