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UNC Football: Mini Offseason

A weird wrinkle in a weird season

Syracuse v North Carolina Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

There are very few things that are normal about this season, obviously. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the inherent weirdness of this season cannot exactly be overstated, despite my attempts. After positive coronavirus tests and contact tracing in Charlotte led to the cancellation of last Saturday’s game, the Heels found themselves staring down the barrel of unexpected downtime, pending a battery of phone calls to possible opponents to fill the open date this coming weekend. This search proved fruitless, evidently, and now Carolina is looking another consecutive week without the payoff of a Saturday game.

Time off can be a double-edged sword. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s been away from work for a long enough time to completely forget what I was doing before the break. Trying to get back in the swing of things after a span of time away can feel like drinking from a fire hose, or trying to entertain oneself at home after six preceding months of being cooped up. Sometimes, it feels like it takes a Herculean effort.

The comedown after a long break is rough, sure, but there’s a reason that people look forward to breaks with such breathless anticipation. A decent break from the day-to-day can have an incredible rejuvenating effect, after which I’ve always found myself refocused and better able to handle business (after the re-adjusting I mentioned above).

It’s a fairly common story across sports. If a hockey team in the Stanley Cup playoffs wins a series expediently (á la my Carolina Hurricanes in the first round of this year’s tournament), the team faces questions about the way they’ll spend their time waiting for the other side of their bracket to finish their series. There seems to be a prevailing thought that a long break can cause a team to lose their edge.

Time will tell if that will be the case for the Tar Heels; whether we see a focused and refreshed team on the back end of this hiatus or a team that comes out flat and needs to be punched in the proverbial mouth to wake up. Maybe this break will serve as a stand-in for the truncated offseason of this summer, or maybe it will only serve as a distraction from the coming game, which still feels like it’s an eternity away. The Eagles of Boston College lurk in the early part of the coming month, doubtlessly salivating over the prospect of a ranked win at home. The way the team from Chapel Hill is able to deal with this unexpected time off will be an interesting glimpse at the internal motivation of the team and the ability of the staff to keep the squad focused.

Either way, at least for now, there’s still Carolina football on the horizon. That’s enough for me to be excited about.