Saturday was bad. It was one of those games where you want to look away, but you just couldn’t. Watching one of the worst defeats in North Carolina football was painful, but it wasn’t ALL bad!
Alright, I’m playing semantics here. North Carolina was outperformed in every phase of the game. The offense was seemingly nonexistent. The defense, although decent, struggled throughout the day. The special teams even had blunders leading to Hokies scores.
I went back through and picked out the “highlights” and low-lights of this past weekend.
High - First Quarter Defense
Even though the first quarter ended with the score at 14-0, the Tar Heels defense had not given up a score. The Hokies drove the field on their first possession, but missed the field goal from 47 yards. Their next three possessions elapsed just 14 plays for 60 yards in just four-and-a-half minutes. Only one possession ev made it into North Carolina territory. On all three possessions, the Hokies were forced to punt.
The defense had surrendered 106 yards on 22 plays, but had not allowed the Hokies to score.
Low - Second, Third, and Fourth Quarter Defense
Everything fell apart on Virginia Tech’s final two possessions of the first half. Touchdown drives of 55 and 70 yards took the game from bad and officially put it in the worse category.
The Hokies had seven possessions during the second half, four of them ended with a score (three touchdowns and a field goal). Of those that did not score, one ended with a punt, while another ended when Virginia Tech went for it on fourth-and-four, and the final one consisted of a short run and two kneels to run out the clock.
Low - The offense
118 yards in the air on a 32% completion rate and 54 yards rushing on 42 attempts averaging just over one yard per rush makes for a rough outing, no matter who you are playing. Add in an opportunistic defense that scores on two turnovers and causes yet another, and you have created a recipe for the disaster we saw.
High (or a silver lining in a low) - Being “officially” eliminated from bowl contention
Wait. What? Did that just say...
Didn’t we already figure this was the most possible outcome?
This may seem counterproductive, but finally being “officially” eliminated from bowl season takes some of the pressure off of this team. The season is officially lost (although this, or any, coaching staff would never admit it) and it’s time to look toward 2018 while salvaging what can be for this year. The end of this season should be about building better habits and better ball players for the future.
I’m not saying that the Tar Heels should roll over and take 35-point losses the rest of the year in the name of “growth.” That would be crazy and the seniors on this team deserve more than that. However, the pressure associated with making a bowl game is gone and those who will be here next season can begin logging some game minutes alongside the first team.