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Tar Heel Hangover: UNC’s Week 9 loss to Miami

At least it was competitive.

Miami 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.

First, a programming note. THH will continue into men’s basketball season with the same weekly post. Even though the scrimmage season has started, this week’s article will remain focused on football with the exception of sending a get well soon to Joel Berry II. Also, the rest of the basketball team needs to stay away from whatever water the football team has been drinking.

The Elevator Speech: What happened in week nine.

This was a competitive game with a team that simply refuses to quit on the season regardless of every reason to do so. The injuries. The close losses. Larry Fedora did an excellent job of getting this team ready to play and it is heartbreaking to come up short. Again.

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

When the first two quarterbacks are not getting the job done and the season is essentially lost, it is time to put in the third string. That’s precisely what Fedora did with a fair amount of success. Nathan Elliott brought a spark to the offense against a top ten team putting up 173 yards passing and 79 yards rushing. It was an admirable effort and again, I credit Fedora with at least trying something different. One game is not enough to create a quarterback controversy heading into next season, but it certainly could have been with a win. Which brings us to . . .

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

With under five minutes remaining, Elliott engineered a two minute, 57 yard drive to score a touchdown. A failed on-sides kick left things looking bleak until the defense forced a fumble and put the Heels back in business.

On second down, Elliott scrambled toward the sideline for a five yard gain. A blatant late hit resulted in a 15 yard penalty and a first down inside Miami territory with a chance to put up the winning score. On the next play, Jordon Brown fumbled and the Hurricanes were in position to seal the win.

In addition to Elliott, a great deal of praise needs to be heaped on the defense. Sure the final third and 5 could have given the offense another shot, but realistically the defense played great down the stretch. Miami scored a touchdown to take the 11 point lead with just over nine minutes remaining. From that point on, the Tar Heel defense forced the powerful Miami offense to go interception, punt, fumble on its next three drives. That effort gave the team a chance to win and should be commended.

Looking Forward: Bye

There will be no loss next week. There will an opportunity to get some players healed and hopefully ready to go to Pitt in a nationally televised game on November 9. This is a difficult but winnable game that a (finally) rested Tar Heel team should be ready for.

Final Thoughts

A critical mistake ended the possibility of a thrilling victory. Nevertheless, this was clearly a step forward and a return to respectability.