The smoke has settled in Kenan Stadium, and many fans are still recovering from what was a very up-and-down 30-35 loss to Cal. There was offensive personnel shuffling all game, specifically at quarterback and running back. There were questionable and costly plays that will remain the topic of conversation leading up to next week’s game against Louisville.
One would need to look no further than Twitter in order to experience all of the joy and rage (ok, mostly rage) that took place yesterday.
Right before kickoff, it was still a mystery who we would see starting at quarterback. The only guess as to who was about to take the first snap came from the pregame warm-ups.
In warmups QB Brandon Harris is taking snaps with the first team. QB Chazz Surratt is with the second team.— Ross Martin (@RossMartin_IC) September 2, 2017
As it turns out, this indeed was a sign of things to come as Brandon Harris started the game for the Heels. On his first drive, UNC was unable to get anything going and ended up punting to Cal. A couple drives later, sophomore Chazz Surratt made his way onto the field as it became apparent that Larry Fedora wasn’t set on having one quarterback play the entirety of this game. With that, came frustration from fans on twitter:
Near the end of the first quarter, North Carolina began to find their stride a bit when Surratt was in the game. However, he wasn’t the only one that was sharing snaps at his position. After a poor initial showing by running back Jordan Brown, Michael Carter found his way onto the field with Surratt and they managed to enter the redzone. Michael Carter punched it in for a touchdown with 3:33 left in the first quarter.
True freshman Mike "The Scientist" Carter from Navarre, Florida punches it in for UNC.— Dave Lackford (@RivalsDave) September 2, 2017
Nerves have settled! That was an awesome drive. #GoHeels— Trenton Edwards (@gillburgkid) September 2, 2017
Cal and UNC tied 7-7 end 1Q. Offensive line has struggled, but Surratt and Carter have created some space.— Brant Wilkerson-New (@BrantGNR) September 2, 2017
The offensive situation wasn’t the only hot button topic in the first half. On the defensive side, DT Jalen Dalton was flagged for targeting after landing a brutal hit to the head of Cal QB Ross Bowers. Dalton was disqualified and sent back to the locker room for the rest of the game.
Horrible decision. Would have had the ball back in plus territory with all the momentum. #GoHeels— Jim Milbrandt (@5helmetplay) September 2, 2017
Dammit Dalton. Use your head, but not for that. You're smarter than that son. #GoHeels— Dalton S. (@kayak_nc) September 2, 2017
Dalton’s ejection is huge right now. UNC was gradually getting offensive momentum, getting ball back… and boom.— Aaron Beard (@aaronbeardap) September 2, 2017
Going deeper into the first half, it became apparent that Brandon Harris wasn’t getting the job done for UNC. Harris managed to move the ball down the field late in the 2nd quarter only to throw an interception to LB Devante Downs.
Harris not putting up good passing numbers so far: 3 of 9 for 16 yards and a 48.3 passer rating. UNC with 11 pass attempts and 21 rushes.— R.L. Bynum (@RL_Bynum) September 2, 2017
Going into halftime, fans on Twitter saw all they needed to see from Brandon Harris. While Harris finished the half with more completions and more yards, it wasn’t hard to see that the offense just looked much better in Surratt’s hands.
One half and seen enough to know Harris isn't the guy— kyle botts (@Sgt_at_Arms) September 2, 2017
Wouldnt mind seeing Chazz Surratt play the entire 2nd half.....great things seem to happen when he in the game! He looks the part IMO!— NATIONAL CHAMPIONS (@Briccyardlilyo) September 2, 2017
In the 3rd quarter, Larry Fedora did not change his game plan at quarterback. Surratt and Harris continued to take turns and things only got worse for Harris as he threw his second interception of the game with 4:17 left on the clock.
No more Harris today, please. He gives UNC no chance to win.— Bob Curry (@bobcurrysf) September 2, 2017
While this mistake would normally prove to be costly, Cal decided that they were in the giving mood as well. Andre Smith picked off Bowers and ran the ball all the way back to Cal’s 4 yard line. This set up a pass from Surratt to Thomas Jackson with two minutes left in the 3rd quarter.
When the 4th quarter rolled around, UNC was basically out of answers. The defense was giving up big plays, the offense completely stalled out, and everything just looked all-around bad.
Buckle up kiddos... it's gonna be a long season #GoHeels— Alex Rhodes (@amrhodes00) September 2, 2017
One time I wanna see a good UNC defense.— Garrett Wease (@gwease23) September 2, 2017
Before I die. Just one time.
Disappointing game. UNC has more talent than Cal, just some bad coaching, and some mistakes. #ThatsFootball— Garrett Barker (@garbonics) September 2, 2017
What took place yesterday was a very frustrating, confusing chain of events that ultimately led to yet another defeat to a power 5 team in the season opener. Fans left the game with more questions than answers: Why did Fedora continue to put Harris in? Where did Michael Carter go in the second half? Why can’t this defense seem to figure out how to prevent explosive plays?
UNC has a lot of work to do before next Saturday if they hope to prevent dropping to 0-2. Take deep breaths, and remember we’re all in this together.