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UNC Football Film Review: Win vs James Madison

The Tar Heels flirted with their FCS visitors for awhile, but eventually took over in the second half.

James Madison v North Carolina Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Carolina doubled up James Madison 56-28 in the 2016 home opener at Kenan Memorial Stadium Saturday afternoon. The Tar Heels finally showed some of the offensive explosion lacking in the first two weeks, while allowing an FCS foe to control the defense for the better part of 15 minutes. Here are some positive and negative plays that led to the Carolina victory:


(:49) If the naked bootleg is America’s favorite play, then the flea flicker is a very close second. We haven’t seen this play since the glorious beat down of the folks down 15-501 last December. Still, it doesn’t matter whether it’s Marquise Williams or Mitch Trubisky, get the ball to a wide-open Ryan Switzer and the result is always six.

(1:25) Trubisky has struggled with the deep ball to start the season, but finally found some rhythm on Saturday. Account the flea flicker to Switzer and this dime piece added with a spectacular catch by Bug Howard, and maybe Trubisky is hitting his stride just in time for ACC play.

(1:41) This is for my colleague Jake Lawrence. Run the ball inside the 10 and score a touchdown.

(2:25) It never gets old.

Endzone Edition.

(5:49) To our friends in Charlottesville, this is how you really streak the lawn. School record 18 consecutive completions, to go along with a school record 16.0 yards per attempt. Have a day, kid. What I loved even more about Trubisky’s performance was how he distributed the ball to his wideouts. Switzer, Howard, Mack Hollins, and Austin Proehl all had at least three receptions and 65 yards on the day.

Trubisky has lit it up against both FCS opponents he’s played meaningful snaps against in his Carolina career. To be that guy, it can only be so impressive. The guy who’s record he beat–Bryn Renner–did the same thing against an FCS opponent. Now, go out and show me that you can do it against the big boys.

(6:02) Your weekly T.J. Logan. The man is having an incredible season after three weeks. Three touchdowns on nine carries, combined with a great sideline catch (4:45) equals another solid day at the office for Mr. Logan. Please keep feeding him the ball.

(6:24) He’s going to get somebody again on this when it matters most.


I knew when I wrote this post last week and said that I hoped to only give you positives from the JMU game that I had cursed any possibility of that happening. What I did not expect was for the Carolina defense to allow 495 yards of total offense against James Madison. I don’t care how good of an FCS program James Madison is, I don’t care if Nazair Jones wasn’t available, and I don’t care about whatever excuse there is left to throw out there.

In no way, shape, or form should our next state neighbors be playing any kind of role in a 1,000+ total yard game. I’m almost as embarrassed by that first quarter of defensive football as I was walking out of Dowdy-Ficklen in 2014 and watching Baylor direct snap it to whoever wanted a piece of the Carolina defense.

Sure, I may be a little overdramatic, but I also realize that Pittsburgh awaits next week, followed by Florida State. One would have hoped that this was the matchup where Carolina shut their inferior opponent down for the entirety of the game. Unfortunately, that was not the case.

On the other hand, the Tar Heels did only allow a touchdown in the final 45 minutes. Junior linebacker Cayson Collins played a large role in that, totaling 10 tackles (two for a loss) earning ACC Linebacker of Week honors—the second consecutive for the unit with Andre Smith having garnered the honors a week ago.

One last concern I’d like to voice is the importance of Jones on the defensive line. With all due respect to both Jeremiah Clarke and Jalen Dalton, they didn’t get it done on Saturday. The two combined for two tackles on the afternoon. For two players that have had solid starts to the season, it had to be a disappointing afternoon for the two of them and in the minds of the defensive coaching staff.

Jones being out of the lineup cannot play that large of a role if Carolina is going to contend throughout this ACC season. There are far too many talented rushers in this conference to have an off day. I hope that Jones stays healthy, but if he doesn’t, there are some serious concerns with those who would fill in for him.

ACC play finally starts this weekend versus Pittsburgh. Carolina will need to bring out all of the offensive firepower and tighten up defensively in an early-season Coastal showdown that should be pivotal in determining who goes to the title game.