NCSU 31 UNC 27

One item right here at the start.

Per THF policy I will not blame the referees for the loss today. Yes, there were plenty of bad calls that hurt UNC but none of them hurt UNC as badly as giving up 290 yards in the first half. And while I am convinced there was one pass interference call for sure on 3rd and goal and possibly another one on the 4th down play as well it was within UNC’s control to avoid being in that situation. More on that later. It has been the case all season that UNC has missed opportunities which become the difference between winning and losing. Today was no different and while I would LOVE for the ACC to fix the freaking officiating so everyone in the conference would have one less thing to worry about out there, it is clear there is ZERO vested interest in that happening. Now without further ado, here is my analysis.

Another football game, another motherload of missed chances for the Heels.

The interesting thing is UNC actually played the turnover game even and got two TDs from a defense which could do nothing to stop the run. Offensively speaking it was a MIA running game which meant UNC depended solely on the pass for everything. Given the playmakers UNC has this is not necessarily a bad position to be in but NC State defends well enough that the lack of a balanced attack makes their job easier.

If I had to point to one thing that bothered me the most it was the number of throws from T.J. Yates that fell just off the fingertips of UNC receivers. When you talk about missed opportunities the ones which do not necessarily translate to a stat or play-by-play sheet are those multiple instances today where open receivers could not haul in TD passes. It happened at least three times that I could count, the last one being the Hakeem Nicks catch that was rule incomplete because he lost the ball when he came in contact with the ground. In fact there have been general rumblings on the message boards concerning the play calling of Heels OC John Shoop. I am not one to get into the play calling, but I can say I was generally bothered by the fact UNC was in position to score so many times and seemed unable to do so. Some of that is execution in terms of the aforementioned QB-receiver relationship and some of it might be coaching. Since my Xs and Os in football is fairly weak I will defer to others.

And what can you really say about the fluke INT on 3rd down late in the fourth? NCSU’s Willie Young managed to get a hand on Yates arm as he threw and the ball ended up in the hands of DeMario Pressley giving the Pack the ball deep in UNC territory. Up to that point UNC had kept the Pack scoreless in the second half and limited their offensive production to basically one decent drive which ended with a UNC INT return for a TD. No one really can say what would have happened had Yates gotten the pass away cleanly. It could have been completed for a first down, intercepted down the field or incomplete leading to a punt. Whatever might have happened could have made the NC State drive for the game winner far more difficult than it was

In the end the running games really determined how this one unfolded. In UNC’s case they had nothing happening on the ground and this versus the 100th ranked rushing defense in the nation. This might say more about the ineptitude of the Heels on the ground than it does anything else. UNC on the other hand has the 46th ranked rushing defense in the nation which meant very little to Jamelle Eugene as he torched the Heels for 159 yards and three TDs. It was, in many ways, the exact opposite of what you expected on paper once again affirming our need to actually play the games.

In terms of rivalry, I would put forth the notion that this game should serve as the template for future games in this series. The game today was exactly what you want and expect when UNC plays NC State. This rivalry is at it’s best when both teams are playing at a high level and evenly matched with each other. In fact, it would be nice for both teams to be so much on the same level that being home versus being away is the only real advantage you enjoy.

One final notes for UNC, the first being this loss ended any hope UNC had of going to a bowl. The Heels needed to win out and since one of those games was in Atlanta versus Georgia Tech it would have still been a tall order but it would have been nice to see this team try. UNC has yet to put together a full game effort and followed the standard blueprint of first half suckitude followed by second half supremacy which speaks to the character of the team and a nice job by the coaching staff to make the adjustments as well as keeping the players’ heads in the game. At some point, probably next season, UNC will turn the corner and find themselves on the upside of many of these missed opportunities. And as anguished as losing this way can be, especially to a rival, I am convinced it will make this young team better in the future. I also maintain that this season was never about wins but about playing competitive football with a legitimate chance to win games and afford the players valuable experience. Nothing that happened today has changed that perspective.

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9 Responses to NCSU 31 UNC 27

  1. Big Mr. Heel says:

    ***REMOVED BY ADMINISTRATOR***

  2. Alpha Wolf says:

    ^ Is that a parody post, THF? The Gator Bowl? Not this year, but give UNC a season or two and the Gator might be a disappointment. And sorry, there’s no “best” 3-7 team anywhere, period.

    It is sweet irony indeed to hear quite a few Tar Heels complaining about refereeing calls, or in this case, no calls. Why? Because now UNC fans can taste the feeling that the end of the game in 2004 that State fans got leaving Kenan Stadium. As I wrote in 2004, the better team won that day and the better team won yesterday. The simple fact is that NC State gave UNC 20 points — two pick-sixes and at a minimum two chip-shot field goals not scored — and it was a game that never should have been close.

    Besides, you could point out to several pass interference calls not made on both sides of the ball. Or multiple holds uncalled on the final drive, one where NC State DT Demario Pressley was thrown to the ground and it was uncalled. They weren’t and complaining changes nothing.

    Considering that UNC gained a mere 12 yards on the ground and only one offensive touchdown (and as a result of a trick play at that) and that NC State pretty much romped back and forth in the first half and in the fourth quarter, there’s just no other way to objectively label it — UNC was lucky to be in this game and did not convert at the end. Even if there was a pass interference called, there’s no guarantee that they would have scored the touchdown. If it didn’t on a run on the first play, and with no timeouts, the ball would never have been set and the clock would have expired anyway.

    It was an exciting game, and this time it went the other way. Don’t denegrate either team by whining about referees or anything else. Carolina fans are usually better than that.

  3. Tar Heel Fan says:

    Alpha,

    Yes it is. The IP address attached to it traces back to NC State. I have removed because…well…I can. 🙂

    As I stated, I am not going to get into officiating. UNC could have played better and did not. Some of that is their own shortcomings as a team, especially running the ball and some of that is the fact NC State is a good defensive team and really has been all season. All thing considered the Heels still had chances to close the deal. They have four shots at the end zone from the seven and could not come up with a workable pass play. Credit the Pack for defending the short field well since they basically had to do it all day.

    This was everything a rivalry game should be meaning even when one team plays well and the other does not the game is still a dogfight. As I said it would be nice to see these two be so good and so evenly matched that home field is the only advantage.

  4. Alpha Wolf says:

    THF,

    I’ll apologize on behalf of the Wolfpack fans who choose to show some class in victory. That’s the vast majority of us, by the way, but like every other group we have the ones that are well, embarrassing. Unfortunately, they are all too often the ones that are remembered the longest.

    I know the disappointment of this loss, because it was to a rival and because it sealed the fate of an improving football team that may have reached the post-season had it gotten hot and ran the table to end the year. I have a lot more respect for seeing UNC after watching them live for the first time this year, and it is my opinion that once Coach Davis gets an effective offensive line and perhaps a better running back or two. Along the way, your QB will improve with experience, he’ll compete with and perhaps be replaced by Paulus and that defense will continue to get smarter and better. It’s just some film room work and the rigor of fundamentals away from being stout. And I mean stout by national standards.

    It’s also my opinion that Tom O’Brien is the right choice for NC State because he is an able teacher and is able to maximize talent. Davis and O’Brien are going to both recruit well and both are going to field very good teams over the next few seasons. For the rivalry, this is an excellent time. Would it not be great if the annual football game had the national implications of a State-Carolina basketball game in the early 1970’s or late 1980’s — when both had strong teams? I’d wager a great deal that it will and I cannot wait to see the battles these two teams will have in the future.

  5. Alpha Wolf says:

    Ooops, “I’ll apologize on behalf of the Wolfpack fans who choose to show some class in victory” is a poorly written sentence.

    I mean to apologize for the red-clad fans who do not choose to behave with dignity. I think you know what I mean.

  6. Tar Heel Fan says:

    I understood it, probably because I tend to do the same thing and interpreted it as it should be.

    My ideal world? UNC-State games being must see games on ESPN/ABC in both sports. Forget noon kickoffs, how does a Thursday night game between the two sound?

  7. Tar Heel Fan says:

    Also, I think it is funny that BC could end up with a 8-9 win season. I would like to see how BC fans spin it when they end up in exactly the same sport as they were under TOB.

  8. Josh Bowling says:

    What was Mr. Big Heels post about? For a UNC Fan to be removed, it would have to be a tough write-up. Glad you guys can be so gracious. I am still sort-of dissapointed, but not let-down because I did not expect victory. It has been a while since I expected victory. I do expect improvement over the upcoming years, and it would definately be refreshing to have this rivalry extend into football once again.

  9. Tar Heel Fan says:

    It was not a UNC fan. It was a State fan with a parody comment. I can see the IP address of every comment on my dashboard and the IP for the comment traced back to NCSU.

    I would never delete a fellow Heel unless it was grossly profane or reflected poorly on our fan base by making abjectly stupid statements.

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