When Mack Brown was hired to return to Chapel Hill and take back his throne as the head coach of Carolina football, nobody expected things to immediately correct themselves. Now that the season is officially over, we can confirm that this team was good enough to finish above .500, beat Duke and NC State, come dangerously close to beating Clemson, and finally, destroy Temple 55-13 in a bowl game to set both a Military Bowl and UNC record (in a bowl game) in scoring. Their bowl victory was the first since they beat Cincinnati in the 2013 Belk Bowl. Boy, what a season.
Before we can reflect too much, we must discuss the dominating performance by the Tar Heels. After both teams failed to do anything in their opening offensive drives, Sam Howell got things going with a 39-yard pass to Dyami Brown for a touchdown. After getting the ball back and hitting a field goal to go up 10-0, Temple responded with a 75-yard drive which led to a touchdown run by Re’Mahn Davis. On the extra point try, the Heels were able to block the kick, and that’s when things started unraveling completely for the Owls, as UNC proceeded to score 31 unanswered points.
Sam Howell was in so many ways the best player on the field all game, which makes it no surprise that he won the Military Bowl MVP award. He finished with 294 passing yards, 3 touchdown passes, zero interceptions, 53 rushing yards, 2 receiving yards, and one receiving touchdown. It was only right that he finished off his incredible freshman season by having a ridiculous performance in his first bowl game appearance, and it only helps generate more and more excitement around the future of the football program for the next few years.
Another player that had a big game was Dazz Newsome, as he had some ridiculous catches to help the Heels blowout a listless Temple team. His most notable catch of the game was when he was being covered by two Owls and Howell dropped a dime to him and he managed to get a foot down inbounds for the score. Both Newsome and Dyami Brown finished the season with 1,000+ receiving yards, which is a feat that was only accomplished before them just three times in school history.
While it’s easy to go on and on about what the offense was able to do (and it was a lot), the defense deserves a lot of credit for this game as well. Temple only managed to generate 272 total yards and threw two interceptions. Chazz Surratt continued to play really well, finishing the game with 5 total tackles, 4 solo tackles, and 2 QB hits. Freshman safety Don Chapman also had a great game, as he finished with 10 total tackles, 5 solo tackles, and a sack. Finally, it’d be wrong to not mention the performance Storm Duck had, and while his 4 tackles and zero breakups weren’t anything to write home about, he managed to get a pick six in the third quarter to help finish putting the nail in the coffin.
Overall, UNC finished off the 2019 football season with a bang, as they blew out their final three opponents 152-30. There’s not much more that could’ve been asked of a team that underwent a massive amount of changes prior to the season, and it’s hard to consider this anything less than a success. Mack Brown will have this team ready to come back next year stronger than ever, and I personally can’t wait to see what 2020 holds for what has become an exciting Carolina football team.