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UNC football vs. Virginia Tech: Three Things Learned...Its Not Good

 Countdown to the offseason

NCAA Football: North Carolina at Virginia Tech
This was a familiar sight, huh?
Lee Luther Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

There’s nothing clever to say to lead in, so:

It Ain’t Just the Quarterbacks on Offense, Y’all

Cam Dillard and R.J. Prince have been playing college football since 2013. The two senior anchors on the line accounted for not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, but SIX false start penalties. With nine false starts total, the offense was penalized for pre-snap infractions prior to roughly one of every six plays.

Dillard also did the Heels no favors after snapping the ball. I counted three complete WHIFFS on Tim Settle, allowing the 345-pound defensive tackle to eat Chazz Surratt. Jay-Jay McCargo, who was adequate in his two games as the starting center, needs to get the bulk of the reps going forward.

Josh Cabrera, Jordan Cunningham, and Anthony Ratliff dropped easy first downs on consecutive possessions in the first half, while the game was still technically competitive. Drops lead to three-and-outs, three-and-outs lead to know the drill.

At this point, the only ACC-caliber players getting snaps for the Carolina offense are backs Jordon Brown and Michael Carter. Carter’s two receptions were a nice hint at some growth, as his reputation has been that he is a good bit behind Brown in that department.

The quarterbacks certainly aren’t helping. Brandon Harris was 4/11 for 24 yards and two picks. He was the best Carolina quarterback on Saturday afternoon, as he had the three aforementioned drops happen to him on quite good throws.

Chazz Surratt, on the other hand, had a respectable 4-of-8 day for 94 yards and a touchdown. (Stephen A. Smith voice) HOWEVER he had not one, but two Statue of Liberty-esque fumbles, and is putting together quite a blooper reel for the closing credits on this season.

The Shoe is on the Other Foot for the Defense

Think back to 2015, if you will. While Carolina’s offense led the nation in yards per play, the bend-but-don’t-break defense was allowing death by 1,000 papercuts. They were second-to-last in plays defensed, 122nd in rushing yards allowed, and wore out as the season came to a disappointing end.

While this year’s defense is far from #1 in the country, the nation’s 114th-ranked offense is killing them.

Yeah, the defense is still in the 100’s in total yards allowed. And yeah, the yards-per-play stat is only slightly kinder (due in large part to 13 plays of 50+ yards allowed). But when you’re on the field for EIGHTY-SEVEN PLAYS A GAME, cracks will begin to show.

On Saturday, the Heels played Virginia Tech’s offense to a stalemate, not allowing any points or extended drives until the Hokies’ 12-play touchdown drive late in the second quarter. For the game, the Heels allowed 383 yards—84 under Tech’s season average. Tech gained 5.2 yards per play—0.8 yards below their season average.

The 2017 defense isn’t quite good enough to lead to a locker room schism a la 2014, but by god it shows signs of life.

Hey, Guess What, You Don’t Have to Plan Around a Bowl Trip

I wanted to close with some clever Murphy’s Law writing, but I don’t have it in me. I don’t think things can possibly get worse, so they most assuredly will.

The good news?

  • There has been no report of any additional season-ending injuries.
  • That money you had earmarked for travel and activities in Shreveport or Detroit? You can instead donate it to charity, make an extra mortgage payment, or make that big purchase you’ve been eyeing and not tell your family about it.
  • We only have to do this four more times. Next week will be painful, Pitt may be remotely interesting, Western still (probably) will be a win, and NC State will be the end.