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Tar Heel Hangover: UNC’s Week 1 loss to Cal

Thoughts and feelings after a disappointing loss by the Tar Heels.

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 one.

The Heels lost a game they could have and should have won. They looked unprepared early, had a nice handful of plays, but had too many mistakes in the end. There is a lot of promise for this team, but this could be a very long season.

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

A little honesty around the water cooler is needed, and the fault for the week one loss falls squarely on the coaches. First, the quarterback situation is untenable. How can an entire summer of workouts not lead to a clearer conclusion about who the starting quarterback should be? Even the ultra-conservative play calling on the first possession made it clear that the staff had little confidence in, or at least a lot of questions about, Brandon Harris.

Perhaps the offense is hard to pick up or the looming questions about a two-quarterback system did not help his psyche, but all of that is up to the staff to recognize. If those problems could not be overcome, then Chazz Surratt should have started. Instead, multiple possessions were either wasted or resulted in turnovers. If Surratt does not start in week two, we will be having this same discussion next week.

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

That boneheaded personal foul by Jalen Dalton. Just. Don’t. Hit him! Up 10 and about to get the ball on the Cal side of the field, an incredibly undisciplined play costs the momentum and ultimately the game. That’s a bad play by an excellent player but more than that, it is just bad coaching. Amid all of the recruiting hoopla and enthusiastic offseason tweets, there has to be some modicum of humility and poise. Dalton’s smirks and apparently jovial reaction to the call would seem to indicate that these values were not instilled over the previous couple of months.

Looking Forward: Louisville

Despite a difficult start, there is certainly a lot to be optimistic about. Of course, if a quarterback making his first start can put up over 350 yards and 4 touchdowns, what could the reigning Heisman winner do? The defense has got to tighten up. Sure, the secondary had a rough day, but the defensive line must come to play. One sack and three hurries is just not going to cut it.

On offense, it is important to demonstrate that this is more than a running team. Please go deep. Even incompletions deep serve to stretch the defense. Otherwise, the prospects of running against eight in the box will be very challenging.

Final Thoughts

Post-game, Fedora said, “You cannot win games like that or any game like it when you make that many mistakes and that was on both sides of the ball. There were just too many opportunities that we gave up on both sides of the ball to be effective and win a football game.” Hopefully, a better week of preparation will yield the kinds of results that Carolina fans have been looking forward to.