On Saturday afternoon in Kenan Stadium, the high-powered offenses of the Tar Heels and Dukes put the new LED ribbon boards to work. Despite trailing 21-14 after the first quarter, the Heels’ defense put together some stops in the second and came away with the 56-28 victory.
Let’s take a look back at the highs and lows from Saturday’s game, along with some highlights. Thanks to UNC Athletics for the video.
- Mitch Trubisky
Trubisky was darn near perfect on Saturday. As noted in a previous by Matt Ferenchick, Trubisky was the player of the game.
He broke numerous personal and school records on Saturday. The 75-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Switzer was the longest of his career. The 432 passing yards was the most (for a single game) in his career and 3rd most in school history. He set a school record for completing 18 passes in a row without an incompletion (in a single game). He also set a school record for number of consecutive passes thrown without an interception (156).
Trubisky continues to make smart throws and not turn the ball over, which will be key for the Heels as they get into ACC play. He was also extremely accurate on Saturday and showed great touch on the deep throws to Switzer and Mack Hollins.
With his performance against James Madison, Trubisky showed that the offense can be just as explosive and dynamic with him at the helm as it was the year before under Marquise Williams.
- Running Backs
Logan, with his three rushing touchdowns in the game, continues to shine early on in the season for the Tar Heels. Not to be outdone, Hood had two rushing touchdowns of his own to go along with over 100 rushing yards in the game. Each of the running backs bring a unique skill set to the UNC offense, and when paired with the passing attack it creates an explosive offense that is very difficult to defend against.
- Explosive Plays
The explosive play was back for Carolina’s offense, and with that came a lot of excitement for the Carolina faithful. Coming in to the game the longest pass play of the season was for 28 yards, which was a far cry from what fans came to know and love from the previous season. Trubisky hit Switzer and Hollins for two explosive plays for over 70 yards. The first of the two was the 75-yard flea flicker to Switzer, and the second was a 71-yard touchdown that hit Hollins perfectly in stride.
The offense will need these explosive plays to go along with a balanced run attack, as the season progresses.
- The Fans
I know that there are people out there that will disagree with me on this, but I thought it was a good crowd on Saturday, especially for it being a game against an FCS opponent. The students deserve a lot of credit for showing up in full force and filling the Tar Pit.
- Defense after the First Quarter
After falling behind 21-14 in the first quarter, the Tar Heels defense allowed only one other touchdown the rest of the game. After buckling down, they stopped 7 of the next 8 James Madison drives. The defense started filling the gaps and limiting the big runs that the Dukes were getting in the first quarter. Cayson Collins led the team with ten tackles in the game.
- Defense in the First Quarter
We can all make excuses for the defense’s performance in the first quarter with all of the injuries to the defensive line and maybe not taking a FCS school seriously, but it still doesn’t excuse them from giving up 21 points and over 200 yards of offense to James Madison. As pointed out by Paul Kusher in yesterday’s article, the defensive line and linebackers really struggled, especially in the first quarter. The holes that Khalid Abdullah had to run through were huge and it allowed for the Dukes to have three scoring drives of 82, 75, and 75 yards.
It seemed like the Georgia game all over again with the number of UNC penalties. I even wrote in my “Highs and Lows” article on the Georgia game that penalties were an issue in that game too. On Saturday, the Tar Heels were called for 10 penalties for 110 yards, with four of those penalties leading to first downs for James Madison.
Like I’ve said before, it is hard to believe that such an experienced team would have that many penalties in a game. The even more frustrating thing was that the team was called for four unsportsmanlike penalties and one unnecessary roughness penalty.
As we all saw in the Georgia game, UNC cannot have that many penalties against good teams or they will pay for those mistakes. I am sure that it will be a point of emphasis in practice this upcoming week, especially with big games against Pittsburgh and Florida State coming up.