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UNC Football: And We Back

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Even better than I was the last time, baby

Syracuse v North Carolina Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Typically, when I sit down to write something, I put my music on shuffle. I struggle with silence, so I look to fill the air around me with sound that will pseudo-paradoxically help me to focus on the task at hand. Music has always been a staple in my life, not unlike the game of football or the Tar Heels. If I’m not actively listening to music, I’m humming something under my breath or nodding along to a song that’s stuck in my head.

All that being said, it may be corny to write a post for a Tar Heel sports blog about a hip-hop mixtape that came out in 2013. Not an album, mind you... a mixtape. It’s niche, I realize. But sometimes songs will get stuck in my head for a reason that even I can’t place, and for the last few days I’ve found myself on and off humming the opening track from Chance the Rapper’s 2013 mixtape Acid Rap:

I hadn’t listened to the mixtape in a long time, lost as it was in the shuffle of an iTunes library that’s likely too bloated to be of any use to anyone but me. I certainly hadn’t heard it on the radio, since I can’t imagine this particular track ever even made it to the airwaves. None of my friends really listen to Chance with any regularity, and even if they did it’s been months since I’ve listened to music with friends.

It wasn’t until I sat down to write this evening that I realized why I’ve been humming “we back, and we back, and we back, and we back, and we back...” since this weekend.

This is an interesting glimpse at my subconscious—instead of, you know, reminding me of important things, or motivating me to get up and run in the mornings before work, my brain supplies me with seemingly random snatches of music, almost as if to say “this is how we’re feeling, right?”

So, after watching the Heels take the field again this weekend, coming out of an offseason that may as well have been an eternity, my brain latched onto that feeling, scanning through the deepest recesses of my subconscious and pulling out the first 25 seconds of a song I’d not heard in at least a year.

“We back.”

Well, sort of. I don’t need to sit here and write down all the things that aren’t back, or list the things that may never fully be back. We’re all living through whatever this is, and as much as I hate the idea of a ‘new normal,’ the images of an empty Kenan Stadium wouldn’t let us completely lose ourselves in the shiny illusion that things were back to normal.

Still, it was fun. Trying to balance the pleasure of watching the Heels dismantle Syracuse with the guilt of enjoying anything at all in a time like this isn’t easy, but that’s also not a tightrope I want to walk three paragraphs after referencing Chance the Rapper. I soaked in every minute of Carolina football I could this weekend, and I took pride in the Heels handling business.

This version of the Heels really might be even better than the last time. The breakout freshman Sam Howell is a sophomore now, and had a shaky start with two picks masked by a stellar outing from the running backs. The defense looked good, keeping the Orange out of the end zone despite both aforementioned interceptions giving Syracuse the ball in Carolina territory. Assuming everything goes according to plan (and it’s 2020, why wouldn’t it), you’d expect the offense to gel more as the weeks go on, with two bye weeks after the first week of play serving as a springboard into the rest of the ACC slate.

Regardless of what happens, though, a 31-6 win over a conference opponent is a Good Ass Intro to any season.