The Monday after Week 1 of College Football always brings about the greatest overreactions. While Carolina failed once again to win a neutral-site game on a big stage, I haven’t heard a ton of overreaction in regards to the Tar Heels’ ability to still accomplish their goals. Although there might not be any overreaction, it’s still okay to have emotions towards the loss.
Yes, the Georgia loss was eerily, if not disturbingly, similar to the loss to South Carolina a year ago. The Tar Heels, for the most part, outplayed an SEC opponent and found a way to not win. Whereas last year the Tar Heels were plagued by three red zone interceptions by Marquise Williams, this year the Heels were penalized 13 times. The one commonality that the two games shared was Larry Fedora and the offensive coaching staffs ignorance in not handing the ball of to the talented one-two punch of T.J. Logan and Elijah Hood.
A quick aside: Spread, up-tempo offenses are all the rage in this era of College Football. For as great as they are, the lack of focus on running the ball and controlling the line of scrimmage is frustratingly stupid. Programs like Auburn—when they have a quarterback, Baylor, Clemson, and hell, even Texas on Sunday night, have won at an up-tempo pace while focusing on the run combined with a strong passing game. Look at Ole Miss as an example of a team that, Monday versus Florida State, was cruising, but once they lost their rhythm they had no running game to fall back on. Carolina does not have this predicament. That’s why they need to regroup and focus on getting the ball to Logan and Hood, before they decide to spread it around to the talented trio on the outside of Ryan Switzer, Bug Howard, and Mack Hollins.
I didn’t come to talk to you about Fedora and the offensive play calling, but I had to find my peace. Sitting on this Thursday, the script for 2016 is the same as the one written in 2015. Now, let’s find out if this author has any creativity or wants to put wither an awful or enjoyable twist to the season; the author of course being the Carolina football team.
The Tar Heels rallied off of the South Carolina loss, and, as you know, reeled off 11 straight wins on way to a Coastal division title. The narrative is the same so far. UNC players in the locker room after the Georgia loss spoke about the missed opportunity and Mack Hollins talked about going 14-0 the rest of the year --- a goal that will be extremely difficult even with two FCS teams again on the schedule.
Mack Hollins walked off the field with a smile: "We'll win 14 in row," he told his teammates.— Andrew Carter (@_andrewcarter) September 4, 2016
While, I appreciate the optimism, it does irk me that the team put themselves in this position. Enough of the, “we’ll bounce back” and the “we just didn’t make enough plays” mantra. It’s a mentality that needs to be erased. I’m supposed to sit here and tell you not to overreact to the loss and to remind you that the season is not lost—all of that is true. Even still, I’m not pleased.
Admittedly, during the Tar Heel Blog staff’s season predictions I chose Georgia to win. It was the safe pick, but in my gut I felt like the Tar Heels should win the game. Should and would are two different things. Why would I be upset over a game I predicted Carolina to lose? The answer that makes the most sense to me is that I refuse to accept the fact that this team lost another winnable game and then get behind their quotes of so-called optimism and determination. Carolina football has to be tougher and not let the moment be too big for them.
After the game, Fedora spoke about, hopefully, there being a day where his program would develop into one that can come out and win these types of games. He also made it very clear that losing to Georgia does not and will not define their season:
“I didn’t talk to them about our goals. I think all of our goals are still intact. We knew if we won this game or lost it it wasn’t really going to have a huge impact for our goals this season. Now, it’s what do we learn from this game and how do we react to what happened in this game? Even though I didn’t put all our eggs in one basket, there are a lot of guys on this team that are hurting because they wanted to win this football game and they expected to win it...They know what’s expected and I think our seniors and leaders on this team will do a good job of that.”
Everything is still on the table for Carolina this season. They can still defend their ACC Coastal title. They can still find their way to a New Years’ Six bowl. My expectations haven’t changed, but can you blame me for being disappointed? It’s not time to overreact, but it’s fine to share an emotion of anger and frustration over a movie you’ve already seen before. Hopefully, this movie ends with a similar ending or, at the very least, a better alternate ending