Welcome to the Tar Heel Hangover. This is our Monday morning opportunity to review last week’s games, second guess all of the key moments, and set the game plan for the week ahead.
First of all, happy Labor Day. It would have been preferable to take a holiday from the routine opening day losses. The alternative has not been too bad, all things considered. The entire family visited for the long weekend and season opener. They unfortunately leave minus one vehicle but at least everyone is safe, which is more than can be said for Larry Fedora’s job.
The Elevator Speech: What happened last week.
It was another sloppy start to a season. A late charge made the final score much closer than the game.
Water Cooler Discussion: If I were the coach . . .
The final football article in this series from 2017 looked at two options for “If I were Bubba Cunningham. . . “ The same kind of thinking has to be in the minds of many fans today. So, if I were the coach this week, I would try to avoid all media and press.
I would not want to read stories about yet another undisciplined start. The penalties last year were mind-boggling. Oh, how I now wish for last year. Starting quarterback Nathan Elliott only had 20 more yards than the team gave up in penalties. That is not a good ratio.
At some point, the teaching philosophy from the pre-season has to be re-examined. When multiple classes of athletes are committing the same mistakes over multiple years, then there is a fundamental issue that runs deeper than a bad decision here and there.
The penalties seem to be a symptom of a greater issue. So do the suspensions. This program needs leadership both on and off the field.
Lying In Bed, I Wish I Could Change . . .
The quarterback situation. As my colleague Jake Lawrence noted in his recap, it is possible that this team has no quarterback. In the first half, Elliott went 5-14 for 12 yards and three interceptions. On plays where he passed the ball, Cal outscored Carolina 6-0 (7-0 with the extra point on the pick six).
While the second half was better/could not have been worse and there are obvious problems with the offensive line, my question is why Elliott played in the second half. Cal struggled to move the ball against a significantly improved Tar Heels defense and essentially implemented a quarterback committee. UNC tried no other options after one of the worst quarterbacking halves in memory.
Does this mean that the cupboard is completely bare?
Looking Forward: East Carolina
The truth is that not all hope is lost. The defense performed extremely well against an offense-minded team with an excellent offensive line and plenty of talent at the skill positions. Hold opponents in the low 20’s and a fourth quarter push can always keep you in a game.
Saturday better not be one of those circumstances. A convincing win is needed with a methodical ground game. The team must score consistently and stop the nonsense. A win could mean a season opening blip. A loss, and there will be plenty of empty seats in the reduced capacity stadium in two weeks.
This seems like same book new chapter. There must be a silver lining. Help me find it.