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UNC vs. NC State: Three Things Learned

Let’s talk about last night’s humiliating loss to the Wolfpack.

North Carolina v NC State Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

There have been very few occasions where I write one of these articles and felt like I just didn’t have anything to say. UNC’s loss to NC State last night had to be second-most embarrassing football game I’ve ever watched as a fan (the first was my other football team, but we won’t talk about that). To say the Heels came out flat in the first half is being kind, players couldn’t stay upright, and the defense couldn’t get off of the field even if Mack Brown had given them half of his paycheck to do so. One team is always taking this rivalry game seriously, while it is feeling more and more these days like the other team simply doesn’t. That is a problem.

Let’s discuss three things we learned from a tragic night in Raleigh.

Drake Maye had arguably the worst game of his career

One could argue that the final box score didn’t reflect as much, but I truly think Drake Maye had his worst outing in a Carolina football uniform last night. Normally able to keep the team from drowning, Maye only completed four passes in the first half against the Wolfpack, which was good enough for 58 yards and a touchdown. While he shoulders a non-zero amount of the blame, it’s hard to ignore the factors outside of his capabilities — UNC’s players kept slipping around on the field, there were drops, and the offensive line looked unprepared to deal with NC State’s front seven. Things improved in the third quarter , but it really felt like too much damage was done on both sides of the ball to do anything meaningful.

The worst part about all of this is there’s a chance that last night was the last time that we will see Drake Maye in Carolina blue. There is definitely a chance that he plays in the bowl game, but I don’t know that his return to campus next year is likely. Once again the Heels will likely part ways with a generational quarterback with very little to show for it, which brings me to our next topic.

Something has to be done about Gene Chizik

I usually bite my tongue really hard when it comes to whether or not I think someone should leave the program, but Mack Brown has to do something about his defensive coordinator. Gene Chizik’s guys were on the field for 40 minutes of action last night, which while I don’t have the bandwidth to look right now, is likely the longest they’ve been on the field in a game all season. UNC’s offense was getting off of the field really quickly when they did have the ball, but here’s the thing: that doesn’t mean you can’t get stops. That doesn’t mean you can’t keep Brennan Armstrong from completing 71% of his passes, and it doesn’t mean you can’t shut down a run game that didn’t even have their statistically best player because he entered the transfer portal.

Chizik did a very good job of giving us all hope early in the season, particularly in the game against South Carolina. That game feels like it was a lifetime ago now, and what we’re left with is the same nonsense that we’ve been dealing with for years now. If Mack Brown and/or Bubba Cunningham are really serious about taking this program to the next level, then Chizik has to make his way to the door, and Brown has to hire someone with a resume that has recent, meaningful success. If not, it’s going to be really hard to get fans to buy in next season.

Heartbreaking: the worst person we know made a great point

After the game, ACC Network interviewed NC State linebacker Payton Wilson to get his thoughts on the game. For those that may not know, Wilson was committed to the Tar Heels before jumping to the Wolfpack at the very last second. It felt like a troll job, it felt personal, and he has played every game against UNC as such. Here’s the thing, though: maybe he just knew something that other players didn’t. Maybe he actually did see something in State that made him think that the Tar Heels just weren’t going anywhere. Have the Wolfpack gone anywhere? Some could argue no, but some bowl wins and big wins over UNC is more than a lot of UNC’s current players can say, no?

Here’s why I bring up Wilson’s interview: he said something that may be the most accurate thing that has been said in a while about Carolina.

“If you want to have culture, come to Raleigh. The boys in blues don’t know about it.”

At this point in the Mack Brown 2.0 era, Wilson’s words are loud, accurate, and deafening. While he has brought in quite a bit of talent since returning to campus, UNC still can’t beat Clemson, NC State is now 3-2, and then there’s Georgia Tech. Why are we still having problems against Georgia Tech? This is all without mentioning the fact that UNC is now 1-3 in bowl games since his return, and it will likely be 1-4 if Drake Maye doesn’t play in this year’s matchup.

The worst person you know made a great point: football culture just doesn’t exist in Chapel Hill right now. Tickets are being sold out, Mack Brown has gotten boosters on board, and we now have pretty lights in Kenan Stadium, but you know what else the program has? The same bowl record as Larry Fedora did, and the same amount of Coastal and conference titles, which as far as the ACC title goes is zero. Oh, and by the way, Fedora was on a three-game skid to the Wolfpack before he left the program.

Mack Brown tried keeping his team from eating the poison cheese earlier in the season, but what I’m starting to realize is that there was no poison cheese. Why? Because we as fans ate it all. Nothing has changed in Chapel Hill when it comes to college football, and until some major changes are made, we will get the same poisoned cheese each and every season.