As you may have heard, North Carolina’s trip to the Sunshine State didn’t go so well on Thursday night. All the excitement of the win over mediocre Pitt was wiped out by the loss to very good Miami. A disaster through and through.
But it’s best if we find the good along with the bad, even if we have to take up a pickaxe and mine for it. Here are the Winners and Losers from Thursday’s debacle:
Michael Carter: As has been noted already, Carter’s first game back featured flashes of exactly what made him seem like such a promising player this season. He racked up 75 yards on 7 carries and displayed tremendous skill on some of the runs, particularly when used alongside Chazz Surratt in option looks. He broke several big runs with his speed and showed that he has the power to break tackles against opposing defensive backs. Why exactly he only got the ball 7 times in anyone’s guess, but down the road, look for him to be getting a much higher workload, hopefully in a winning effort.
Turnovers!!!: Five weeks. It took five weeks for the Tar Heels to record their first takeaway of the season (Yes, it’s only our fourth game but five sounds worse and that’s what this season deserves). That said, it really was quite a good turnover. Freshman defensive back Bryson Richardson did an excellent job of reacting to a tipped pass and reeling it in. That’s not an easy play and both he and fellow freshman Trey Morrison have had some very good spells so far this year, mainly being used in the nickel. UNC’s secondary wasn’t tested much during the game (why would Miami throw it when their run game and defense are scoring at will?) but perhaps Richardson’s pick will help build confidence for a unit in need of a morale boost.
Chazz Surratt’s Legs: Chazz Surratt was TERRIFIC on Thursday running the football! I mean, did you SEE him? 69 yards on nine carries and a touchdown! And he’s a Quarterback, not a Running Back. Those option plays in the first half really had Miami confused. All those terrific athletes on defense and they were well and truly flustered. You’ve gotta love Chazz: Big physical guy who isn’t afraid to get out of the pocket, absorb contact on runs, and use his speed to keep defenses guessing. Welcome back Chazz’s legs, we missed you.
Chazz Surratt’s Judgement: Chazz Surratt was DREADFUL on Thursday throwing the football. I mean, did you SEE him? 4/10 for ten yards and three interceptions. Two of his throws ended in Miami touchdowns. And he plays for UNC, not Miami. His play in the pocket was utterly hopeless; he can’t seem to do anything past his initial read, and he never had any rhythm with his receivers. His rust from missing the first three games was coming off in chunks and the passing game completely disintegrated when he was on the field. No, Chazz’s judgement had a very poor night.
Nathan Elliott’s Hands: You can say this for Chazz; At least he didn’t fumble the ball. Elliott did, and then he did it two more times. And each of those times Miami got the ball. And one of those times Miami got the ball and carried it into our endzone. That’s what all of us will remember from Nathan’s night in Miami. However, when he wasn’t fumbling the ball, he wasn’t doing a heckuva lot either. He was virtually incapable of throwing the ball down the field and when he did, he relied on Anthony Ratliff-Williams turning into Larry Fitzgerald to make the catch. No, Nathan’s hands had a very poor night.
Sanity: The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. In this particular case, insanity refers to Larry Fedora’s insistence on sticking with his veteran Quarterbacks. As has been discussed, Chazz Surratt isn’t good at throwing the ball to teammates and Nathan Elliot isn’t very good at throwing the ball at all. This is not a surprise; we knew this last week, and the week before that. And yet Fedora sent both of them out into the teeth of Miami’s turnover-hunting defense.
A further indicator of insanity: Not giving your best offensive player the rock. On Thursday, the best offensive player was Michael Carter. He looked fantastic running the ball, and yet only got seven carries, most of them in the first quarter. Why the need for a running back committee when you’ve got a guy who was on the Doak Watchlist doing a great job? I’m fairly confident that Larry Fedora isn’t one of those Sports Done Right types, so why the need to make everyone feel included? No, sanity had a very poor night indeed.
Remember Mitchell Trubisky? He threw six touchdowns yesterday. That is honorable and deserving of a mention. Now excuse me while I sip my sweet tea and pine for 2016.