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Tar Heel Hangover: UNC’s Week 7 loss to Virginia

Thoughts on yet another close call.

Virginia v North Carolina Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Welcome to the Tar Heel Hangover. This is our Monday morning opportunity to review last week’s game, second guess all of the key moments, and set the game plan for the week ahead.

The Elevator Speech: What happened in Week Seven.

Another close game at home ends in another loss. Overall, this felt like a very good effort especially on the defensive side of the ball. Once again, however, too many mistakes were ultimately the difference.

Water Cooler Discussion: If I were the coach . . .

I have friends who are trying to sell their house. They have already moved into the new place and are slowly reaching the point of significant concern for carrying multiple mortgages. To their credit, they have remained very flexible in their approach and quick to adapt in an effort to find success. In other words, they can at least be assured that they are doing everything possible to achieve their goal.

I did not think Larry Fedora capable of the flexibility needed to succeed in challenging circumstances. The injuries have been well documented and although they are an meaningful excuse, they are still just an excuse nonetheless. I was wrong.

For the record, this is certainly not the first time I have been wrong about this team. Astute readers picked up on my erroneous assertion last week that the Heels may be favored against Virginia. The Hoos don’t look like a team that can challenge Miami or Virginia Tech for the division, but they are certainly better than I gave them credit for. Plus, they covered the -3 spread.

Fedora made two significant adjustments. First, he started and played Brandon Harris over Chazz Surratt. Harris was said to have had a good week in practice and thus earned the start. The move was an attempt by Fedora to save at least some face on the season by providing experience on the field. That attempt, however, sends a mixed message to a fan base that is obviously watching a lost season and a young and rebuilding team. If the view is to the future, then the team should be led by its future quarterback.

The other side of that coin, of course, is that the change did not work. Harris threw for a whopping 46 yards and three interceptions (all on poorly thrown deep balls).

With such a putrid passing game, it is amazing that Fedora’s second change actually worked. Relying much more heavily on the run, the Heels were able to move the ball despite there being no reason for the safeties to drop out of the box. Maybe the team had to run more as a corollary to playing Harris, but Michael Carter and the offensive line were very impressive, especially in the third quarter.

In the end, even with a more potent run game, the time of possession was still 2:1 and a tired team was unable to close the deal.

Lying In Bed, I Wish I Could Change . . .

Whatever happened on that final drive. I did not get to see it. I was unable to get to the game this weekend so I relied on the consistently unreliable NBC sports network. With 11 minutes left in a one score game, coverage was inexplicably switched to an even less available network. I guess that was pretty fitting for this year given that much of the team we thought we would see has been unavailable.

Looking Forward: Virginia Tech

With five straight wins, this team could still be bowl eligible. Realistically, two more wins and a few good showings may be about all that could be hoped for. Virginia Tech is very good and Lane Stadium will be an exciting place on Saturday afternoon. Hopefully they will be a little too confident (right Clemson?).

Final Thoughts

Saturday was a bad outcome for a good effort and a very good week. Football recruiting has not seemed to be significantly impacted by the NCAA investigation, but at least now fans will not have to hear about it on every broadcast or every weekly sports op ed. At least once all the wailing and gnashing of teeth has ended we won’t have to hear about it.

One last admission for this week: I am a Tar Heel fan. I love the school and its sports teams and will root for them proudly regardless of their on-field success. I am baffled by those who use the term “fan site” as a derogatory poke at the quality and objectivity of the content. For many years, this site was the TarHeelFanBlog. The same spirit of support and pride continues today. Feel free to look forward to basketball but this is still football season and this team needs our support.