Any win is a good win, but a win against that team in Raleigh is a great win.
Coming into Saturday, the Wolfpack had taken a decided edge in the recent series versus the Tar Heels. It was so bad that when Mack Brown was hired, folks on a particular rival message board celebrated like they were going to be kings of the state for a long time.
If you actually clicked that link, you will have realized you can’t see what they were saying because in response to their second straight drubbing, this one of the 48-21 variety, those same folks (or at least their moderators) didn’t want those words to be thrown back in their face... so it was taken down. It’s not the only fun the internet had with that fanbase on Saturday evening, which we’ll get to.
Especially after last week, that win was soul-satisfying in so many ways. It was so good, it’s tough to narrow down three entries for the first part, and find three entries for the second part. We’ll trudge on anyway, so let’s get right to this week’s Winners, Losers, and Honorable Mentions.
Javonte Williams: Look, what else really needs to be said about this kid? He was the clear player of the game, getting 160 yards on 19 carries for a ridiculous 8.42 yards/attempt. This, by the way, is after only gaining six yards in the first quarter and sitting out the fourth. So yes, that means in two quarters he gained 154 yards. What’s impressive isn’t just the totals but how he does it, as his patience when he gets the ball is a sight to behold. Many times this year he makes positive plays out of nothing, and is able to just wear down defenders over time because he’s so tough to bring down. It’s a shame he’s taking the spotlight away lately from his backfield partner in crime Michael Carter, but Williams would be the first one to tell you he can’t do what he does without Carter helping spell him, and the great blocking he’s getting (you’ll get to see an example a little later). How good was Javonte? Just look at this stat, and we’ll move on:
Javonte Williams forced SEVENTEEN (17) missed tackles on runs vs NC State— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 25, 2020
Most in a game this season. pic.twitter.com/6pmYYaIBTK
Jay Bateman: Consider this the “Defense” award, a week after getting embarrassed against Florida State to start and with word that they’d be down another defensive back in Patrice Rene on Saturday, the DC scaled back the pressure and had a great game plan for the NC State starter, Bailey Hockman. The first three drives for the Wolfpack ended in punts, and two attempts to convert third downs with the Wildcat went nowhere. It took bringing in true freshman Ben Finley to get their offense moving, and as it changed up the offense it knocked the defense back a little, until Don Chapman didn’t give up on a play in the end zone to make a spectacular pick. The defense did its job in holding the Wolfpack to only 7 points in the first half, and by the time State scored again it was against depth players. As the offense was a little wobbly to start Saturday, credit the D for never really making this game feel close.
Carolina Football Social Media: There are a few sports accounts that are amazing to follow, and we are blessed in North Carolina to have a some of the best in the Carolina Hurricanes, Carolina Panthers, and Durham Bulls, among others. College accounts can be pedestrian sometimes because you don’t want to give the other team motivation. You really don’t want to motivate the other team. Really. Because, when you put out a hype video before a game saying “it’s not about them, it’s about us,” and “what’s a ram to a wolf anyway?” you can set yourself up for some problems if you can’t follow through.
The staff doing social media for the Tar Heel football squad were clearly ready for a response with a win, keeping quiet besides the usual platitudes until after the game. Then, they unleashed some gems. First, they went for subtle after the game was over:
Look at the first sentence, you’ll laugh when you get it.
Also, in reference to a certain video that seemed to fetishize a “blue collar” mentality, the account had a simple response:
On Sunday, they had a little fun with both the amazing run by Javonte that included a wonderful block by Sam Howell, which indicated just how bought in the whole offense was on Saturday:
And, oh yeah, there’s a gif
But the cherry on top, the real kicker, was the answer to the hype video.
The one where the Ram wins. pic.twitter.com/lTMikD9bmJ— Carolina Football (@TarHeelFootball) October 24, 2020
Everyone on the Tar Heel social media staff, take a bow. To put this together and post it 40 minutes after the game was over is outstanding work.
Grayson Atkins: His 22 yard miss was horrid. Until he made his next two kicks, including the one to go into the locker room, he had actually missed more attempts than he made and he was a big reason why Carolina was sweating until well into the third. We’ve been over this before, so there’s no use in rehashing it all. Atkins has to be a on a really short leash now, but hopefully those two late makes reset him to the point where he’ll be the guy that Brown thought he was bringing in.
Sam Howell: Look, I said I was stretching here for things to say, and Howell had a ridiculous number of great throws, but this is mostly to acknowledge his decision making still needs a ton of work. Howell took three sacks, and had several plays where he either eschewed making the easy short pass to an open back or end, or he just ran around and bizarrely took a loss that knocked Carolina well out of field goal range. Have our expectations for him risen? Absolutely, but for him to truly get to the next level he’s got to start tightening these things up that were at least excusable last season due to the lack of depth under center. That said, my favorite pass of the day was this beauty-not the one you’re thinking of-but this one that is just so perfectly placed in between three defenders. When you have a QB that can make plays like this, you can start to nitpick because you know what he’s capable of:
It looks so easy for him, but that is a pinpoint pass to Waltson with three defenders around him. Any deviation on it at all and that’s going the other way, but it was in the perfect spot. The decision making will get better, for sure.
Tyrone Hopper: Another one tongue in cheek, as Chazz Surratt got credit for the second interception of the day, but it was because it was an easy pop fly thanks to the alert action of Hopper to tip the Finley pass. He doesn’t get to carry the belt like Chazz does because he only tipped it. Chazz should have handed it over to him, but stats sometimes aren’t fair.
Make sure you watch the hype response video to get a view of that amazing interception by Don Chapman, State was driving and had a real shot of getting their first score before the alert Chapman won the tip drill...Tomon Fox had two spectacular sacks, and it was good to see the defense as a whole finally get through with pressure and force QB’s into bad decisions...joking aside, Chazz Surratt had a good bounce back game with eight total tackles, one sack for a fourteen yard loss, and the pickoff...Dyami Brown had his typical day that will cause Tar Heels to lose their hair, with one bad drop and then some spectacular catches on his way for a seven catch, 105 yard effort...Shoutout to Emery Simmons who stepped into the spot vacated by Beau Corrales due to injury and showed the future at the position is bright indeed.