After being fooled on a fake field goal that tied the game up at 7-7, UNC answered with a trick play of their own on a touchdown pass to Bug Howard. The Tar Heels would eventually put away the Cavaliers 35-14, with three touchdowns in the second half and another overall strong defensive performance.
Let’s take a look back at the highs and lows from Saturday’s game, along with some highlights. Thanks to UNC Athletics for the video.
- Elijah Hood, Bug Howard, and Mitch Trubisky
After a couple of weeks spent wondering if Hood was 100%, he answered in a big way on Saturday with a typical Hood game that Carolina fans have come to expect from the running back. He evaded tacklers and punished those who tried to tackle him. Hood finished the game with 107 yards (6.7 yards per carry) and a touchdown.
Maybe getting engaged earlier in the week helped with the strong performance, as noted in this tweet from Turner Walston (well done, sir).
Elijah Hood is really engaged today.— Turner Walston (@TurnerWalston) October 22, 2016
Nice touch from Howard to wear the number 13 on Saturday in support of Mack Hollins. Howard finished the game with 109 yards on seven catches, and was on the receiving end of the trick play touchdown. This was Howard’s second 100-yard receiving game in a row, as he has become a reliable weapon for Trubisky the last couple of games.
Speaking of Trubisky, you know a guy is having a phenomenal season when going 24-31 for 310 yards, 3 touchdowns, and no interceptions is kind of a ho-hum game for him. Trubisky is having a special season for the Heels, and one in which we should cherish every game while he is still wearing Carolina blue. As we heard over the weekend, Trubisky is being mentioned as a possible first round draft pick. If you take away the Hurricane Matthew game, Trubisky would still be talked about as a dark horse Heisman candidate.
- Road Warriors
As noted in the David Hale tweet below, UNC has the second longest win streak in the country in true road games.
Updated: longest active win streaks in true road games:— David Hale (@DavidHaleESPN) October 23, 2016
North Carolina, 9
Also, the Tar Heels always seem to struggle in Charlottesville, but they have now won four games in a row at Virginia (a seven game winning streak overall in the “South’s Oldest Rivalry”).
The best part about all of these road wins is the talk of the Heels being the “Road Warriors”, which instantly brings up memories of one of the greatest wrestling tag teams (and entrance music) of all-time. If you are too young to remember, here you go:
- Blue Face Masks
Though subtle, the Carolina blue face masks were a nice touch on Saturday. As Fedora noted, the players loved the slight change to the helmets. As a fan, I would certainly agree that they looked great.
I don’t get into the weekly arguments over the uniform combinations, but I will never argue against there being more Carolina blue in the uniform/helmet.
I will say that the newest uniform/helmet styles (doesn’t matter what combination) are my favorite, and I would be in favor of the Tar Heels keeping these for eternity.
Despite the offense getting off to a slow start in the first half, the UNC defense held UVA to only 160 total yards and seven points. They finished the game giving up only 253 total yards (110 rushing yards).
The defense has come a long way since giving up 222 rushing yards to Nick Chubb in the first game of the season.
With the injury to Jonathan Smith and Andre Smith sitting out the first half because of last week’s targeting penalty, Cole Holcomb came up big with 10 tackles in the game. Ayden Bonilla also played well at linebacker in the absence of the Smiths.
The defense had three sacks, a recovered fumble, and held Virginia to 3-19 on third downs. They have still not come up with an interception, but as mentioned last week, the UNC corners continue to do a great job on opposing team’s outside receivers.
With the offense struggling to put any points on the board, the Tar Heels looked like they were headed for their first score of the game when T.J. Logan fumbled in the red zone. UNC lost another one when Ryan Switzer fumbled on the opening drive of the second half.
The Heels now have six lost fumbles on the season, which is tied for 95th (out of 128) in the country. The Tar Heels will need to fix this issue, especially if they are not getting interceptions on defense, in order to be successful in their remaining games. Currently, the Heels are -2 in the turnover margin battle on the season, which is tied for 81st (out of 128) in the country.
- This guy
A picture says it all, and what it must be like to be a Cavalier fan the last couple of years.