The script to the start of 2016 season is similar to the one written in 2015. The Tar Heels traveled to a neutral-site to face an opponent from the SEC East. Like 2015, Carolina had more than their fair share of opportunities to win the contest, but just like in 2015, they found a way to lose. Let’s take a look at some of the positive and negative plays from Saturday.
(35:13) T.J. Logan had a day and half against the Dawgs Saturday afternoon. The senior running back, who at times hasn’t played up to his full potential, came up big in several spots. On this 2nd and 10, a pulling left guard in Caleb Peterson picked up not one, not two, but three blocks to set Logan free down the sideline for a 35 yard gain.
(37:10) Mitch Trubisky has been lauded for his ability to throw the ball, but the running aspect of his game has been overlooked. After a timeout, Trubisky ran the ever so sexy naked bootleg, fooling the entire Georgia defense and myself as I reacted about 10 seconds late to this touchdown, watching from about 140 yards away in the opposite end zone.
(1:13:09) Thanks to Georgia wanting to highlight stud running back Nick Chubb, Carolina received the ball to start the half, only three points down. Logan showed off that speed again, returning the kickoff 95 yards to give the Heels their first lead at 17-14. Thomas Brown helped initially free up Logan, blocking his defender into another UGA coverage man, allowing Logan to get to the wall set up on the left sideline. Dan Mastromatteo and Cole Holcolmb both did their jobs, running their defenders to the sideline out of bounds. Logan then cut up field, where his speed took over. Bug Howard takes care of the last key block and had the presence of mind to let go of his defender, avoiding a block in the back penalty. Mack Hollins, who had just returned to the game after his ridiculous half game suspension, escorted Logan from there to pay dirt.
(1:27:56) The offensive line may have not done a great job protecting Trubisky in passing situations, but give them credit up front in the run game. Again, Peterson does a fantastic job pulling and breaking Elijah Hood free for a 19-yard gain.
(1:29:00) This run play is pure speed again from Logan. The offensive line gets a great push up front. Logan bounces outside and gets a great block from Ryan Switzer in the slot. From there, Logan is able to evade his defender to the sideline, diving in for a 21-yard touchdown.
(1:32:52 & 1:35:05) Yes, the Carolina defense gave up 289 yards rushing for the game, but give them some credit. Up to this point, Chubb was already over 100 yards rushing, even still the Carolina defensive front seven was competing. On both occasions on 1st and 10 the defense does a great job in pursuit of the ball stopping the runner near the line of scrimmage, setting up a 2nd down and long.
(1:36:28) Patrice Rene has earned high praise throughout the summer and fall camp. The true freshman earned his way into a role in Carolina’s nickel package, with corner M.J. Stewart moving inside allowing Rene to operate on the outside. Essentially, this put Rene on an island. Rene forced his receiver on this 3rd and 8 towards the sideline but failed to play the ball. This resulted in a defensive pass interference call, albeit late. I know a lot of people out there have had issues with the call, but the rule is pretty cut and dry when it comes to playing the ball. All Rene had to do was get his hands up, or turn his head around and Carolina is off the field and potentially on their way to putting Georgia in a serious hole with a true freshman quarterback. The only issue I have with the call is that it came from the middle and not from the side judge. It doesn’t make a ton of sense, to me, for the guy who’s positioned in front of the play to keep his flag in his pocket and then have a guy 20 yards away throw one, but I digress.
(1:38:57) I give Georgia OC Jim Chaney all of the credit in the world here. He recognized, once again, Carolina’s nickel package with Rene on the outside with little safety help and called for another fade on 3rd and 7. Rene, initially, got his head around, but then turned around opting to throw his hands up while making contact with his receiver, even though he had forced his man to the sideline where a catch was unlikely. Coincidentally, this led to another PI call, and worst of all a Georgia touchdown later that drive. The blame can be thrown on Rene, but he’s a freshman playing in his first game on an island. Chaney has had success at all his stops in college football, so it’s no surprise that he made this play call knowing Rene’s credentials.
(1:45:22) On the ensuing Georgia kickoff, the Bulldogs kick away from T.J. Logan towards Khris Francis. With the kick clearly headed out of bounds, Francis, instead of letting the ball travel onto the sideline, receives the kick at the 12. Carolina goes from having the ball at their 35, that would have surely dampened Gerogia’s momentum to start that drive, to starting at their own 12. A boneheaded play that led to a chain reaction of head-scratching events.
(1:46:57) This, not the aforementioned play or Rene PI’s, is the point where most have said the game turned. Trubisky hits Austin Proehl on a slant over the middle converting a 2nd and 10, giving Carolina some breathing room from deep insider their own half. Unfortunately, an illegal man down field is called on right tackle Jon Heck. Whether you agree with the call or not, and it was close, in no way should a tackle be that far down the field on this type of pass play. You see an illegal receiver downfield call mostly on screen plays or when a quarterback scrambles. This was a simple three-step drop resulting in a completed pass across the middle.
To compound the mistake, Larry Fedora gets an unsportsmanlike penalty backing up Carolina to its own 4, which we all know led to a safety the next play. I’m disappointed in both the lack of discipline in our tackle and most importantly our coach in this situation. The safety gave Georgia a ton of momentum and certainly was a key point in the game, but I can’t help but feel if Carolina gets off the field on the drive before, they potentially go up 17 and we’re not even having this conversation.
Carolina made mistakes, particularly in the second half, that you wouldn’t expect from a team with as many veterans as Carolina. The Tar Heels will now try to rewrite the script again in 2016. They’ll start by traveling to Champaign Saturday night to face Illinois and new coach Lovie Smith. We’ll be back next week to breakdown the film, hopefully on better circumstances.