Like a lot of this season has been, the Sun Bowl loss was frustrating for North Carolina. It was close, and ended in a bitterly disappointing way. If they had just executed just a few things better, it might have been a win.
While it was by no means perfect, the defense was a large part of the reason the Tar Heels kept it so close. The Sun Bowl was one of, if not the best, defensive effort by North Carolina this season. A lot of that was due to Naz Jones.
In his final game in Carolina blue, Jones showed why he’s good enough to leave early for the NFL. He finished with eight tackles, two tackles for loss, and a sack against the Cardinal.
As a team, the Tar Heels held Stanford to 129 total rushing yards. Jones was a big part of that, as he was able to pretty consistently get some push along the line. In the passing game, after Stanford’s starting quarterback, Keller Chryst, went out with an injury, backup Ryan Burns never looked settled. While at least some of that was self-inflicted, it also had to do with the work Jones put in up front.
North Carolina’s main problem in this game was ill-timed turnovers, and the inability to block Stanford’s #90, Solomon Thomas. The reason UNC was in the game until the very end was the play of the defense, spearheaded by Naz Jones. As he heads off into the NFL, at least Naz went out on a personal high note.