I don’t even know where to begin with my complaints about everything that went wrong in the Tar Heels’ ugly 45-22 loss to Georgia Tech in Atlanta. Things started off well enough for Carolina when Sam Howell trucked defenders to stroll into the end zone for the game’s first points. From there, it all went downhill.
Howell was sacked five times in the first half and three times in the second half. Carolina’s usually sure-handed quarterback was unusually off against the Yellow Jackets, as he fumbled the ball and lost it three times. Georgia Tech scored 20 points off those three turnovers.
The run game that was so effective in the win over Virginia last week never got going in Atlanta, accounting for just 63 of the team’s 369 total yards. That was emphasized further by Georgia Tech’s effortless ability to run the ball for 261 yards. Another place the game was lost by the offense was on third down. They converted just five of their 14 third down attempts. While not the worst offense of the game, it certainly made a bad situation worse.
There was no point in the game where UNC really looked comfortable. Georgia Tech seemed to have all the confidence in the world in a stadium in their backyard, and UNC looked like shell-shocked visitors. Freshman Jeff Sims came off the bench and passed for 112 yards and a touchdown and picked up another 128 yards and three scores with his feet. He got anything he wanted against the defense and Carolina simply had no answer.
Georgia Tech was able to keep UNC’s best receiving weapon, Josh Downs, in check all game. He had a touchdown, but just 53 yards in the contest. Emery Simmons picked up some of the slack with 110 yards to lead the receivers, but it just wasn’t enough with Howell’s ineffective night.
A lot of the problems that we saw pop up in the Week 1 loss to Virginia Tech showed themselves again tonight, and the result was much the same. There were bad penalties, mystifying play calls, poor tackles, and a huge lack of protection for Howell.
It’s a big blow to UNC’s chances to win the ACC Coastal, but they are down and not out. Chaos seems to be the story of the season so far, and maybe that’ll work out in their favor as the season chugs along. It’s a frustrating turn after UNC was able to shake the losing streak against Virginia last week, and the team we saw tonight looked nothing like that one from just a week ago.
We’ll have to see what team shows up next week when UNC tries to maintain control of the Victory Bell when Duke comes to Kenan Stadium.