At the end of the first quarter, Florida State crossed midfield for the first time all day.
Until that possession, the Seminoles had the ball for less than a minute. The North Carolina Tar Heels were up 10-0 and had over 10 minutes of possession time in just the first quarter.
Could UNC be the 17-point favorites as determined by the oddsmakers? Could the demons of the past be exorcised on a rainy and overcast day in Chapel Hill?
Not just a “no,” but a “hell no.”
FSU converted two third downs on that same drive to open the second quarter with a touchdown. The Seminoles completely dominated UNC for the rest of the first half.
It was the same old story for Carolina football, and weary fans left Kenan Memorial Stadium in a daze before the start of the fourth quarter.
How could this happen again?
Rather than competing for the Coastal Division, this UNC team must now scratch and claw just for bowl eligibility.
So what is the X-Factor this week?
You could reach into the bag of problems and pick one. Coaching and schemes. Offensive line. Drops. Arm tackles. Losing individual battles. Dual-threat quarterbacks.
Let’s bundle all those up and look at the team’s performance in the second quarter in 2021.
Carolina has been outscored 69-30 in the second quarter this season.
If you take out the 17-0 advantage over Duke, the margin widens to 69-13.
Take out the Georgia State game, and Carolina is down 62-3 versus four ACC opponents in the second quarter.
Conversely, the Tar Heels are leading opponents 59-17 in the first quarter this season. In two of three losses, UNC held the lead at the end of the first.
Are they taking their foot off the gas? Are opponents better able to adapt to UNC’s game plan? Is Carolina not making the necessary adjustments? Is it just mental at this point?
There are a lot of question marks in this article because the results on the field do not match the personnel on the team.
Unlike their in-state rivals in Tallahassee, there are not dragons to slay in Coral Gables. Since joining the ACC in 2004, Carolina is officially 7-8 against Miami and are riding a two-game winning streak.
If the Tar Heels can win the second quarter on Saturday afternoon, UNC will have a shot to return to .500 in conference play.
If not, it is time to take a serious look at the coaching staff and make some tough decisions.