Welcome to the Tar Heel Hangover. This is our 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 last week.
Lots and lots of offense. 1348 total yards of offense to be exact. 112 points. 60 first downs. These are video game-esque numbers. Simply unbelievable. What we learned Saturday was that given enough chances, the Tar Heel defense will eventually make plays and the offense will capitalize. With a week off, this team is growing and putting up big scores. The Irish should be nervous.
Water Cooler Discussion: If I were the coach . . .
Keep the offense going. The key play of the game came with just over 11 minutes left in the first quarter. Last week, this article closely examined fourth downs against Duke. While the conversions were impressive, it was the attempts that really stood out. Going for it on fourth down demonstrates confidence in the offense and a desire to aggressively put points on the board and win the game.
On their first drive, the Heels went for it on fourth down. They did not make it. Nevertheless, the attempt proved that the coaches have faith in the offense and understand that this team needs to score a lot to win. Carolina scored on their next four possessions to put up 24 points in just over a quarter.
Then, the offense hibernated. On the four ensuing possessions, the Heels had three punts and an interception. Two three and outs and a turnover put continuous pressure on the defense. A total of about 50 yards covering less than 20 plays in about 15 minutes of game time. This is a team that put up over 700 total yards and in one quarter of the game they only moved the ball 50 yards. That is absolutely mind-boggling.
So, what happened? In those 20 plays, the Heels ran 5 times for 9 yards. This is a pass-first team but without a consistent running game, it is hard to keep the ball moving. Yet, even with the score mounting against them, this team looked confident and able.
Perhaps the difference is that the Wake defense forced three punts and an interception in a string while the Carolina defense forced 4 punts and a turnover on downs in a row. One more possession was the ultimate difference. With an offense this potent, the Carolina defense can afford to make a lot of mistakes. A few good series is all the team needs for a win.
Key stat for the week.
In addition to Sam Howell, five Carolina players scored touchdowns. This is an offense that is extremely difficult to shut down because of how well they distribute the ball. Stop the two-headed beast of Javonte Williams and Michael Carter at running back and Howell can toss the ball to Dazz Newsome, Dyami Brown, or a host of quality receivers.
The Tar Heel offense has put up over 50 points in three of its last 6 games and has won all three. If they keep that trend going, they will win the next three as well.
Looking Forward: A quick peek ahead.
This is a bye week with Notre Dame coming to town the day after Thanksgiving. Additionally, and amazingly, this is also the last week before college basketball starts. The Hangover will bring a full season preview next week ahead of the opener. In the meantime, suffice it to say that there is a lot of excitement in the air around Carolina athletics.
Perhaps the best thing the coaches can do this week is keep the players healthy. The holidays are here and the teams that stay safe are the ones that will win in December.
A thrilling victory and plenty to be excited about. Carolina football is an electric show and is clearly building in to a national powerhouse. Time to get ready for the Irish.