clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

UNC vs. Notre Dame: Three things learned

Another ugly loss drops the Heels to 1-5.

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

In order to describe the failures of the North Carolina football team in 2017, one needs to resort to adjectives that would bring this post beyond the PG-13 threshold. Through six games, the Heels have had two awful performances on defense, two pretty fair-to-decent performances, and two inept offensive outputs.

As the Heels hit the midway point of the 2017 season at 1-5, don’t make the mistake of the “go 1-0 this week” Heels of 2013. The schedule doesn’t get any easier, and signs of life are not there. This thing has officially gone off the rails, y’all.

The ‘60 percent-installed’ offense isn’t gonna cut it.

We’ve covered the injury bug ad nauseam, but the Heels still have 11 players on offense at any given time and need to do...something. Jake Fromm is a true freshman leading a 6-0 Georgia team. Josh Jackson, at 8.9 yards per pass attempt at Virginia Tech, is a redshirt freshman. What is it, exactly, keeping the offensive coaches from trusting Chazz Surratt with the “whole” offense? Are they not teaching the young players the offense along with the projected first-teamers? This is an up-tempo offense with no identity.

Any excuse from Larry Fedora is starting to feel like a straw man to me. An offensive-minded coach should be able to throw an offense together that puts up 17-20 points under any conditions.

With seven yards in the first quarter (265 total) and three turnovers, the Heels tried everything but did nothing well. They never allowed Surratt to get into a rhythm, never gave Jordon Brown or Michael Carter consistent carries, and didn’t really seem to have a plan.

This is not intended to sound hot take-y at all, but the coaches need to let the offense develop an identity—I’d go read option with quick keys to a bubble or slant—something to allow Surratt to play to his strengths, minimize the thought process, and let his athleticism take over.

The defense is playing incredibly, given the circumstances

There was some bad. Deon McIntosh had 124 yards on 12 carries, and Josh Adams had a 73-yard romp in the second quarter rain to go up 14-0. Those mistakes are forgivable when the defense otherwise held Notre Dame scoreless for the first quarter, forced a field goal after a backbreaking interception in the third quarter, and did not allow the Irish to develop much of a rhythm.

Here are some numbers!

  • The Irish ran 74 plays, and the defense did not break until after Carolina’s fourth three-and-out to start the game.
  • Myles Dorn made one great break on an interception, and had another land in his lap.
  • Ian Book threw for 4.7 yards per attempt on 31 passes. Yeah, new starter, rain, etc., but the secondary has improved MASSIVELY from Cal and Louisville.
Notre Dame v North Carolina Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

The Heels are more aggressive than they were under Gene Chizik, and that has absolutely caused some big plays. But they’re getting quarterback hurries, and appear to the naked eye to be turning the corner into a defense that attacks. Not one that is attacked and reacts. That’s progress.

Larry Fedora is still capable of mind-numbingly bad tactical decisions.

Raise your hand if you saw the safety coming.

With 32 seconds left in the first half, the Heels offense took over at their 1-yard-line trailing only 14-7. After a Surratt throw into triple coverage on first down was miraculously not intercepted, an inside zone run to Jordon Brown (from the shotgun) was an easy stop for the Irish.

What in God’s name was he thinking? The Heels, as currently constituted, marching the 80 yards necessary to get into Freeman Jones field goal territory? The tacit admission of this came from the shotgun about 18 inches from their own goal line—I guess the under center QB sneak is part of the 40% of the offense not installed yet.

For the second week in a row, Fedora said he was not putting the team in position to win. When he falls asleep at the wheel like that, he’s absolutely right.