Welcome to the Tar Heel Hangover. This is our opportunity to review last week’s game, second-guess all of the key moments, and set the game plan for the weekend ahead.
The Elevator Speech: What happened last week.
The Carolina offense proved too much for the Cavaliers to keep up with on Saturday, as a huge second half put the game out of reach. There was not much defense to be found on either side of the ball for most of the game as the teams combined for nearly 1,300 yards of offense. These were video game numbers. Despite a big win on the scoreboard, questions still remain heading in to week 4.
Water Cooler Discussion: Applying pressure.
Last week, I cautioned against relying too heavily on big plays for scores and pleaded for a better run game. On Saturday, Carolina provided both. Thanks to an excellent performance from the offensive line, Ty Chandler had a breakout game. The Tennessee transfer tallied 20 carries for 198 yards and two touchdowns. At nearly 10 yards per carry, the UVA defense simply had no answer. It looked like a situation where the pass game opened up running lanes, which may be the best formula going forward.
Interestingly, the running game may have been too good to ease the ball control concerns. Carolina had a whopping 9 scoring drives during the game. None of them were 10 plays or more and none took up at least 5 minutes of game time. This is a quick strike offense that will continue to put pressure on its own defense from a time of possession standpoint (UVA won the time of possession battle by almost 5 minutes). Fortunately, scoring points also puts a lot of pressure on the opposing offense.
It was a good thing that the offense generally purred because Virginia took the lead during the one low scoring quarter (3 points in the second quarter). In the second half, Jay Bateman finally dialed up the pressure and Virginia could only manage two scores. Three Carolina sacks all came from outside linebackers (Kaimon Rucker with 2 and Tomon Fox with 1). It’s starting to become clear that Carolina’s interior pass rush is lacking and is going to need the kind of support that Bateman gave them last year with plenty of A-gap blitzes and the like. Although the secondary is good, sitting back in coverage and rarely rushing more than 4 with a pass rush that isn’t getting home often enough is the type of strategy that gives up 554 yards passing. It’s time to trust the defensive backs in man-to-man situations and bring the heat.
A Quick Look Ahead
Next up is a trip to Atlanta for yet another night game. The Heels are a big favorite against the 1-2 Yellow Jackets. The question will be which Georgia Tech team shows up. Will it be the team that lost to Northern Illinois or the one that nearly won at Clemson?
Georgia Tech has a fairly balanced offense, which will once again test the Carolina defensive line. They do have a tendency to give up yards on the ground so this could serve as another opportunity for Ty Chandler to put up big numbers.
While the Hangover is fully supportive of shots, the kind of cheap shots that Virginia took last week have no place in the game. As Akil wrote on Wednesday, the league will incredibly not be taking any action against the Cavaliers. That kind of garbage, unfortunately, sometimes comes along with tremendous success on offense. I hope Carolina continues to frustrate opponents, and I hope those opponents demonstrate more class.