After a disappointing Week 1 showing against Georgia in Atlanta, the Tar Heels bounced back in a big way in front of a sellout crowd in Champaign. Nearly everything UNC did wrong against the Bulldogs went smoother against the Illini. Here are three things we learned in the win over Illinois.
Successful running game = successful offense
Running backs Elijah Hood and T.J. Logan were utilized in a way that made much more sense in the game against Illinois, and it paid off in a big way. Logan’s day was better than Hood’s, but both were able to find success running the ball. Logan has been one of the best players through two games of the season so far, and is shaping up to be used as much more than a change-of-pace back.
The one place the running backs should have probably been used and weren’t was UNC’s failed attempt at a touchdown before halftime. It’s hard to argue that one of Hood or Logan shouldn’t touch the ball when the Tar Heels are that close to the end zone, and Trubisky’s pass was incomplete to Mack Hollins with only a couple ticks left on the clock. Maybe handing it off to one of Hood or Logan makes that play end very differently.
Mitch Trubisky will almost certainly be just fine
Carolina fans expected a lot out of Trubisky as his time as the UNC quarterback got fully underway. In the game against Georgia, though, Trubisky looked a bit out of sorts. Everyone was encouraged to practice some patience, and Trubisky did reward that with a much better performance against Illinois.
He scrambled for two scores and threw for two more, showing accuracy in the air and efficiency on the ground. Trubisky is never going to be Marquise Williams with the football, but he did prove that he isn’t going to stand in the pocket like a statue.
Carolina’s defense stepped up when it had to
Illinois was able to do pretty much whatever they wanted on their first drive of the game that put the Illini up 7-0. The run defense was, once again, struggling to make stops. It looked, at that moment, like the Heels may be in for another taste of what Nick Chubb did to them in Atlanta. However, that’s not what happened.
The defense actually more than held its own from that point on, and largely managed to keep Illinois out of sync for the remainder of the game. The Illini offense did cause themselves a lot of self-inflicted pain, but the Carolina defense looked like a completely competent bunch. That is a welcome sight over what was on display at the Georgia Dome.
What did you learn from UNC’s victory over Illinois this weekend?