Reporting Mark Seidel
“Paging the UNC football team…..Your assistance is needed on the field.” As I sat and watched the UNC-ECU game yesterday the realization set in that a 1-5 record is on the way for the Tar Heels. The Heels travel to Blacksburg, VA on Saturday to take on the Hokies of Virginia Tech and the following Thursday they welcome Miami to Chapel Hill for a “Blackout” game. It might be in UNC fans best interest to “blackout” the game on their own.
In Larry Fedora’s second season as head coach the Heels have fallen on hard times. Admittedly UNC took ECU lightly. Running back AJ Blue said after the game “ECU hasn’t beat us here in a long time, or if ever,” he said. “So that kind of carried over to some guys’ minds. That was the mindset of the team, and that hurt us today.” Excuse me??? What exactly has any player on this UNC team done to have that attitude?…Don’t worry I’ll wait.
The defense is absolutely atrocious. Missed tackles, miscommunication and blown coverages have become the norm. Larry Fedora was left saying he didn’t know what went wrong…again. That “We’ve got a long way to go”. Just a few weeks ago after the season opening loss to South Carolina Fedora thought the Heels were “not far off”. So what is it Larry? Some would like to say the loss of scholarships is taking it’s toll on UNC and that may be somewhat true but that’s no excuse for the way this team has played. None of the defensive units scare anyone. The front four get no pressure on the QB. So why don’t they blitz more? Well the defensive backfield can’t cover well enough to let the linebackers try to blitz. Everyone knows who #10 Tre Boston is because every time you see him on TV, you see the back of his jersey chasing his defensive assignment into the end zone. Mel Kiper, ESPN draft expert, at one point had him as his 3rd best draft prospect at safety. Let that sink in. Don’t get it twisted, Boston is not the only problem in the secondary. Yes there is some NFL talent on the Tar Heel defense. Defensive end Kareem Martin will play on Sundays. Other than him there are no guarantees. Say what you want about Butch Davis but he stocked the UNC defense with NFL players during his time in Chapel Hill. Don’t mistake this as me saying Fedora should fired, I’m simply saying he needs help, desperately, on the defensive side of the ball. Looking at the recruiting class he has put together for 2014, it’s not coming next year. Game after game we hear the players talk about missed tackles. “The good thing about it is we have guys in position to make plays, but we just aren’t finishing,” said linebacker Jeff Schoettmer. “I think as the season progresses we’ll get better at that but I mean it’s a glaring mistake we’ve got to correct now because you can’t have that many missed tackles in a game.” Well no s**t, Mr. Schoettmer. It’s time to do something about it and not just talk about it.
The offense set records at UNC last year. The offense scored 487 points (40.6 a game), both school records. They scored 62 touchdowns, a record. Bryn Renner set the single season records for total offense (3,394 yards) and touchdown passes (28). So far through 4 games they have scored 101 points (25 points a game). The loss of running back Gio Bernard and 3 offensive lineman to the NFL certainly have something to do with that but Renner has not played up to his potential so far. Throws that should be made aren’t being made. WR Quinshad Davis, who set the freshman records for receptions and receiving yards last year has disappeared from the offense with the exception of a few plays. I said at the outset of the season that UNC would have to outscore opponents, that the defense would not win them any games. Well the offense isn’t holding up their end of the bargain. Once Renner is gone next year and heralded freshman, Mitch Trubisky (unless Marquise Williams exponentially improves his ability to throw the ball) takes the reigns, the offense will grow. The threat of the QB being able to run will open up a whole new dimension of Fedora’s spread offense. I can’t express my frustration when I see Bryn Renner keep the ball on a read option and trudge for a 2 yard loss. Why the play is even called baffles me. Renner runs like he is carrying a teammate on his back.
A 1-5 start is staring this UNC team square in the eyes and it isn’t flinching. The same team who set out this year to win the ACC Coastal division. (not just get rings for a fake championship). The November 23rd game against Old Dominion is the only game left on the schedule that “looks” like a guaranteed win. It’s time for someone to step up and take a leadership role on the defense. All too often this season fans have seen the upward facing palms of defensive backs staring at each other while their opponents celebrate yet another touchdown.