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UNC Football: Starting on time

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To avoid the upset, the Tar Heels need a fast start on Saturday.

North Carolina v Wake Forest
Sam Howell #7 of the North Carolina Tar Heels drops back to pass against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons during their game at BB&T Field on September 13, 2019 in Winston Salem, North Carolina.
Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The North Carolina Tar Heels had nine offensive series in the first half against Wake Forest. Eight of those ended in a punt. The other was a fumble recovered by the Demon Deacons and led to the Gold and Black’s first score. At the half, Carolina was down 21-0 and was out-gained 304-71 in total yards.

This is what head coach Mack Brown had to say about that offensive performance in his weekly press conference:

I think we played very poorly, offensively, in the first half. Period.

Another sticking point from Brown was playing with passion. He said in the team debrief on Sunday that the players came forward and recognized they lacked that drive in the first half versus Wake Forest.

In short, the Tar Heels must play with passion this season due to lack of depth and critical injuries:

We all have to grow together and understand that we’re not good enough to beat anybody unless we’re playing with passion. That’s what we’ve got to do. We had the chance to come back, but at this stage in our program, we can’t roll it out there against anybody and that’s hard.

There were five Week Two starters that were missing from action versus Wake Forest. These include long-term injuries to cornerback Patrice Rene and center Nick Polino, along with defensive tackle Jason Strowbridge, tight end Carl Tucker, and wide receiver Antoine Green.

With this in mind, the x-factor against Appalachian State is starting on time. This is not critical only because of the depth issues of Carolina. This is an important factor because the Mountaineers had full two weeks to prepare for the Tar Heels.

App State has not been a secret in the football world, at least to P5 schools, since at least 2007. Brown remarked their performance over the past four seasons has been the best in North Carolina. Carolina cannot afford to be caught off guard Saturday afternoon.

The Mountaineers will be rested and ready to take on UNC. Will the Tar Heels answer the call from the opening kickoff?