Welcome to the Tar Heel Hangover. This is our opportunity to review the games of the last week, second-guess all of the key moments, and set the game plan for the week ahead.
The Elevator Speech: What happened last week.
Almost the complete opposite of the week before, the football team took on a highly ranked opponent while the men’s basketball team tipped off against an outmatched foe. Once again, the team on the gridiron more than rose to the task while the hardcourt Heels struggled. Could the narrative be turning?
Water Cooler Discussion: If I were the coach . . .
I would focus on turnovers. It does not matter what sport one is playing, fewer turnovers is better. Mack Brown’s team had none. Roy Williams’ team had a lot.
Realistically, a couple of turnovers would not have given Miami a chance. Two million yards on the ground would be enough to beat any team in the country. Michael Carter and Javonte Williams combined for over 540 yards against a good defense. The Tar Heel offensive line, which had yet to put together a truly dominant performance, stepped up in a huge way.
It feels like this dominant offense finally clicked in a big way. All season, fans have been screaming that no one in the country can keep up with the points that this team could put on the board. How about no punts and no turnovers for a big game? The Hurricanes never stood a chance.
Carolina did not need the drama of another fourth quarter comeback. There was no air assault required to save the day. Do not mistake the message; the passing attack was very good with Sam Howell taking care of the ball and Dyami Brown going off for 187 yards receiving. The stars of the game, however, were on the ground. Let’s see what the second ranked SEC team can do to defend that.
The ball was not as secure on the basketball court. Eighteen turnovers once again creates a cause of concern. The freshman guard backcourt duo of R.J. Davis and Caleb Love turned the ball over 9 times and shot a combined 6-19 including 0-7 from three. The good news is that they had 7 combined assists. The bad news is that with this frontcourt, anyone who can lob a high pass would have 7 assists.
Give Roy Williams credit for not suggesting that the season should be canceled after losing two games. *Note that the only way to insure that you lose two non-conference home games is to play only home games in the non-conference and lose two of them. Yep, that one will not get old. Give Williams credit for working with a young team to develop chemistry in a socially distant time.
I will give him credit when the team’s assist-to-turnover ratio exceeds 1.0. Someone in the starting lineup has to shoot consistently, someone has to be a leader with the ball, and someone has to play defense. It is about time for the collective group to grow into the team they can be.
Key stat for the week.
Another quick look at the free throws made vs. free throws missed + turnovers stat. Good free throw shooting saved the game on Saturday. 25-31 from the line for easily the best free-throw shooting performance of the year. Over a third of the tam’s points from the charity stripe. Make that a closer to average 70% night and this is a one possession game. Even with the 18 turnovers, the ratio is 25:24 or 1.04. That is one of the highest of the year and the reason for victory.
The real key for the week, however, was in Miami. The first win over a top 10 ranked opponent in 16 years (since Miami in my favorite in-person sporting event of all time). The most rushing yards by two teammates in a game. The biggest win in a decade at least. This was a statement.
What an unusual year when Carolina football fans look back on losses to Virginia and Florida State and question, “What happened?”.
Looking Forward: A quick peek ahead.
Another last minute scheduling switch means Carolina will play Kentucky instead of Ohio State. Frankly, I am disappointed. The Buckeyes are a good team that could be a proving ground for the Heels. The Wildcats are a bad team on a bad run with a lot of national attention. They have nothing to lose. They are hungry and will put a lot of game pressure on the boys in light blue.
Also, go Tigers. That may hurt a bit to say, but a major bowl game is on the line.
Maybe it is just this crazy year, but I am still not sure what to think. The total domination against Miami on Saturday feels like a dream and has fans pinching themselves just to check. The narrow win against NC Central has fans twitching and wondering if last year was an anomaly or a warning.
It is quite the luxury to debate over an undefeated week.