One of the most puzzling parts of the 2021 football season was opening against Virginia Tech and looking like a team that had no idea what they were doing. Gradually things improved ever so slightly, and the Heels closed out the season at .500, only to revisit their demons in the game against South Carolina. With all of the time to prepare in the world, the Heels once again looked like a team that had no idea what to expect from the Gamecocks. Is it understandable considering the fact that their best quarterback was a wide receiver? Not in Division I football, which truly it puts the final rotted, fly-covered cherry on top of the highly questionable cake that was the 2021 Tar Heel season.
I wish I could somehow pull some highlights from this game to point to, but honestly there wasn’t many. South Carolina stopped UNC right away on offense before storming down the field and throwing a 69-yard touchdown over the head of Cam’Ron Kelly. The Gamecocks would increase their lead to 18 before the Heels finally punched back via a 63-yard touchdown from from British Brooks. The Heels managed to go into the locker room down 13-25, leaving some room for hope that we’d get to see Mack Brown covered in mayonnaise (words I never thought I’d ever publish, but here we are).
Without any additional context, it’s worth pointing out that South Carolina only scored 13 more points for the rest of the game. Considering how UNC has played in the second half this season, it was reasonable to believe that they had a comeback brewing in Charlotte, but what they did instead was fell flat. The Heels managed to score one more touchdown off of a trick play, but the offense completely stalled out from there. The Gamecocks are the Duke’s Mayo Bowl champions, and the Heels get to return to Chapel Hill smelling like disappointment and frustration rather than twangy mayonnaise.
Truly this game embodied the entirety of the Heels’ season. The defense couldn’t stop the run to save their lives, letting a subpar rushing team run for 301 yards. Their best quarterback in the game, Dakereon Joyner, is actually a wide receiver, and completed all nine of his passes for 160 yards and a touchdown. On offense the Heels let Sam Howell get sacked four times, British Brooks had no more than five touches for some reason, and Phil Longo still hasn’t learned how to score in the red zone.
I’m going to go ahead and say what we’re all thinking: something has to change this offseason. Mack Brown stated that he wasn’t planning on making any changes, but there’s no way that he can go into the 2022 season with the current coaching staff. The Heels badly need new line coaches, and if we are to take it a step further, Phil Longo and Jay Bateman should be sweating if Brown had it in him to do what he needs to do. He truly may have been waiting until this game was over before shaking things up, but if he doesn’t do anything before September, all of the goodwill he’s accumulated may as well get tossed out of the window. Highly-ranked recruiting classes are fun and all, but with no wins to show for it this team may as well be Kentucky basketball sans 2012 (when UNC should’ve won the national title anyway, and yes I still hate Creighton).
With all of that said, thank you for hanging out with us during the 2021 football season. Let us know what you think should (or shouldn’t) be done with this team. I hope all of you have a happy and safe New Year!