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Tar Heel Hangover: UNC’s week three win over ODU

Thoughts on finally breaking into the win column.

NCAA Football: California at North Carolina Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

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 three.

The Heels were focused and motivated in their first road test and came out of Norfolk with an impressive win. The Monarchs had some injury concerns entering the game and UNC was able to score at will while playing (mostly) sound defense.

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

I would try to remember what the team had for the pre-game meal and repeat it every week. I might even make everyone ride the bus around town for home games just to duplicate what happened Saturday.

It is hard to relay how much buzz there was around Tidewater for this matchup. Quite possibly the biggest home game ever for the relatively new FBS team, ODU and its fans were excited for the contest. That makes the Heels’ performance all that much more impressive.

Chazz Surratt was excellent going 16 of 24 for 257 yards and a touchdown. He also added two scores on the ground. The running game showed up for the first time this year lead by Jordon Brown with 125 of the team’s 254 rushing yards. This offensive balance appeared to keep the Monarchs’ defense on its heels all day.

Going forward, the team needs to continue to work on the ground game. Surratt is proving himself to be quite capable, but if he is throwing 40 or 50 passes a game, that is not a good sign. Chewing up yards at the line will also open up the deep throws.

Additionally, the team looked to be playing quicker. UNC’s scoring drives seemed to come on a few big plays followed by quick snaps and more big plays. There was an energy and mindset to get to the line, get the play called, and run the play as quickly as possible. Larry Fedora’s teams always play fast, but there is a difference between hurrying to the line and snapping the ball versus getting to the line and looking to the sidelines for 10 seconds.

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

Special teams play looked lackluster at times. The second quarter kickoff return for a touchdown was the function of the cover team losing their lanes and getting blocked out of the play. Austin Proehl’s botched punt catch was purely due to a teammate losing his situational awareness and running into Proehl while trying to make a block. These issues don’t matter a lot in a 30-point win, but they will certainly matter in close conference games where there is a very thin margin of error.

The other concern continues to be the secondary giving up big plays. While the coverage was fairly consistent through the day, especially against the ODU five receiver spread, the middle of the defensive backfield is a problem. Crossing routes have plagued the team thus far and Saturday was no different.

Looking Forward: Duke

The Battle for the Bell is early this year and will be a great test for the Heels. The 3-0 Blue Devils come in averaging over 40 points and nearly 500 yards per game. They bring an offensive balance that will require the defense to stand tall for a full 60 minutes.

Final Thoughts

Surratt looks good and the defense stepped up. The season’s first win allows for a collective exhale ahead of a tough conference test on Saturday.