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THB’s football uniform challenge First Round: No. 1 vs. No. 16

Two of UNC football’s best donned these uniforms

This series will determine the ultimate UNC football uniform combination. Each week, your vote decides which set advances to the next round.

Your votes advanced the mid-century home uniforms to the next round, nearly doubling up on the 2013-2014 blue-on-blue set. Check out the updated bracket (click to enlarge):

This week, the uniform matchup is between two sets that were worn by arguably the two best players in North Carolina Tar Heels program history.

1. 1979-1987 home blue with blue stair-stepped helmet

Lawrence Taylor
Photo courtesy UNC Athletic Communications

The 1980s were filled with some of the most iconic uniform sets in Carolina sports. When teams find success, the uniforms they wear have a lasting quality. Every Carolina fan knows the basketball uniforms from the 1980s. Certainly the 1982 season and the legendary players throughout that decade made the uniform more memorable than simply the design itself. In the same mold, the achievements and players from the era enhance an already worthy football uniform design.

This uniform set was introduced prior to Coach Dick Crum’s second season in Chapel Hill in 1979 and lasted through his tenure as Carolina’s head football coach. The jersey and pants are simple designs with a balanced emphasis on school colors.

The defining feature of the set is the helmet. The stair-stepped UNC is unique among Carolina helmets. The most common logo for the football helmet, the interlocking NC, is timeless and universal. It has been somewhere on the gridiron from the 1890s uniforms to today. Perhaps that is why the stair-stepped UNC is so well-liked. It is the epitome of retro. It also helps that the stripes on the helmet match the stripes on the sleeves. Perfect balance.

A moment in this uniform

The Tar Heels debuted this uniform against South Carolina in the first game of the 1979 season. After a scoreless first quarter in the “Battle of the Carolinas,” Famous Amos Lawrence got the Heels on the board with a 21-yard touchdown run. Later on in the second, Lawrence found the end zone again on a five-yard rush to give Carolina a 14-0 halftime lead over South Carolina.

After another scoreless quarter, Phil Farris brought in a 43-yard pass from Matt Kupec to extend the lead to 21-0. Later in the fourth, Kelvin Bryant, in his first collegiate game, punched in a one-yard run for the final scoring play of the day. Carolina’s 28-0 victory over South Carolina was an excellent start to the season and a lopsided game against a team that would be ranked 16th in the country going into their bowl game.

The Tar Heels piled up 238 yards on the ground, with 134 of those coming from Lawrence. Bryant added 31 yards. Almost half of Kupec’s passing yards came on the 43-yard touchdown pass. He finished the day with 94 yards through the air. Carolina finished the season with a 8-3-1 record and a final national ranking of 15.

16. 1940s navy-on-silver with white helmet

Charlie Justice
Charlie Justice
Photo courtesy UNC Athletic Communications

As readers move through the bracket, they will notice the seeds favor uniforms that are predominantly Carolina blue and white. This uniform set is no exception.

In the post-war era, the Carolina football team had several combinations of jerseys, pants, and helmets. After Charlie Justice’s freshman season in 1946, many action shots of him in this uniform set were used for promotional materials. He donned the cover of the 1947 Carolina Football Blue Book, the media guide of the time.

A moment in this uniform

The 1946 football team twice had four-game winning streaks on their way to a Sugar Bowl appearance. One of those victories was against the Florida “Fighting ‘Gators” in Chapel Hill on October 26, 1946.

After a sluggish start to the game in which three drives ended in punts, a Hosea Rodgers interception set up the first UNC touchdown. Rodgers, playing both ways, alternated with Charlie Justice and Billy Myers on the rushing attempts on the subsequent drive. Eventually Myers scored from the goal line to put the Heels ahead.

Choo Choo Justice faked a reverse on to score a touchdown on a 70-yard punt return. A fumble set up Florida’s touchdown near the end of the half. The Tar Heels led the Gators 14-6 at halftime. Carolina’s offense came on the ground, while Florida’s came through the air.

At the opening kick of the second half, Florida was unable to keep the ball in bounds after two tries. On the third attempt, Justice brought it to the house on a 90-yard kickoff return. UNC and UF traded scores in the third to bring the Tar Heel lead to 28-19.

At the beginning of the fourth quarter, Bill Maceyko connected with Art Weiner on a 33-yard touchdown pass to increase the lead to 34-19. Near the end of the game, Carolina kept their foot on the gas. Rodgers ran for 77 yards to the red zone, then Bob Cox scored on a double reverse with five second left in the game to make it a 40-19 Carolina Victory.

Here’s an interesting note about the student section, via the October 28, 1946 edition of the Daily Times News:

The Carolina student section kept the fans in a second half turmoil with a half dozen fights . . . they even started to disrobe a policeman who attempted to quiet ‘em down . . .

Wild times in Kenan back in the 1940s.

What do you like best about these uniforms? What special moments do you remember while these uniforms were on the gridiron?

Vote below for your favorite. The poll ends next Wednesday.


Which uniform advances to the next round?

This poll is closed

  • 85%
    1. 1979-1987 home blue with blue stair-stepped helmet
    (55 votes)
  • 14%
    16. 1940s navy-on-silver with white helmet
    (9 votes)
64 votes total Vote Now