UNC fans had few good things to reflect on in the second quarter of last night's Chick-Fil-A football game. Trailing by 20 points by halftime, the real deficit became obvious by then. Special teams had suffered worse even than the defense with seven players including the entire secondary ineligible to play.
The third quarter went about the same, with no scoring.
Then came the fourth quarter. For everyone watching, the result was astounding. With TJ Yates having a career passing day, holding the ball more carefully and forcing few shots, completing the longest pass play in UNC history for 97 yards and compiling 412 yards in the air, few LSU and Carolina fans had any doubt that with two shots into the end zone UNC would win this game and potentially rid itself of the role of underdog throughout much of the rest of the season.
Two passes to tight end Zack Pianalto later, the fans were proved wrong. LSU avoided an unthinkable loss, and UNC headed home with thoughts of what might have been.
Every UNC player had his head held high. With 13 players, including the center of the offense, both leading rushers from last year, three of the front four, and all four of its secondary gone, UNC had done the unthinkable.
Rallying behind its senior quarterback, the only one to start for head coach Butch Davis except when injured, UNC had come to the brink of victory only to have it run through its tight end's hands.
One game neither makes or breaks a season with so many games yet to play. But what we can tell is that there is no quit in UNC's football team. And that when opportunity knocks next time, the team is likely to convert the play and win the game.
We will have to wait until we see UNC take on ACC rival Georgia Tech in its next game. But we know one thing: the Ramblin' Wreck will not treat this game as a pushover.
There are several take-aways from the LSU game for the Tar Heels.
- UNC needs to improve their special teams, and insert some faster players for the rest of the season. This could mean adjustments beyond those that have already been made.
- The running game needs to improve and to be a focus of the offense, with more trick plays, more use of new recruits to anchor the front line, and the potential use of a large player to pound the ball up the middle.
- The search for more sure-handed receivers needs to continue, including potentially moving players around to get more speed on the flanks.
If these deficiencies are remedied, we could see a far better team than we imagined. If not, the surging ACC will chew up the Tar Heels and spit them out at the bottom of the pack.
And that is The Real Truth.
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