Not a lot was learned from Carolinaâ€™s convincing win over James Madison last Saturday. And I think that was the idea as it looked as if Carolina just wanted to do enough to win the game without tipping their hand scheme wise with tougher opponents on the way.
One main observation was that Carolina has a lot of athleticism especially at receiver. T.J Yates throws a great deep ball and Foster, Tate and Nicks are all capable of making the big play downfield so UNC will be a team with the quick strike potential. Yates in fact was named ACC rookie of the week as the redshirt frosh was 13-18 for 218 yards and three TDâ€™s. He did throw one pick, but that seemed to be more of miscommunication rather than a poor read. During the spring game Yates set himself apart with his decision making ability and for putting the ball in the right place. Saturday night the coaches confidence proved to be will placed.
The running game lack zing, but that had as much to do with JMU stacking the line and daring UNC to win with the pass. Johnny White showed a couple of flashes of speed when he was able to get into the open field and Anthony Elzy was serviceable in short yardage situations. Still the offensive line did a lot better job in their pass blocking compared to their efforts on the run and this must improve starting the weekend in Greenville.
The defense is much more cohesive. Saturdays effort was a fine ensemble piece as the Heels did a tremendous job all evening attacking the football. One cannot take so much out of the effort though because it was quickly obvious JMU had a limited attack and could not match the Tarheels overall level of speed on the defensive side of the ball. JMU particularly had trouble throwing downfield and were relegated to lots of short efforts, which based upon looking at the past would seem to be a good idea. But this is a Tarheel team already much better versed in pursuit than any of the teams in the Bunting era seemed to be.
Lastly and most noticeably the atmosphere in Kenan was tremendous. Essentially a packed house (ok a few folks came disguised as empty seats) greeted the Heels, under Bunting the place would have been a third empty. Sure the crowd was a little bit cheddar and chardonnay but that is to be expected and considering just how quickly the Heels put the Dukes away, understandable.
New LCD scoreboards on both sides gave a modern look the old lady that is Kenan, though the player pictures they displayed just showing the playerâ€™s eyes did seem a little creepy! Also pyrotechnics after each score added a new dimension to the festivities, though fireworks before dark lack the same spark, no pun intended, ok pun completely intended. Yet some did not care for it as it does take quite awhile for the smoke to dissipate, I could especially notice this when seated downstairs during the second half. So it will be interesting to see how this is tweaked.
There is an overall level of excitement that has not been seen in quite some time, but there is still that undercurrent of elitism that always permeates Carolina athletic contests. Perhaps the crowd will be a bit more beer and pretzels for UVA on the 15th, especially if the Heels can find a way to win in Greenville this Saturday. Still I never will expect to see Kenan become Doak Campbell.
All things considered the Heels are finally headed in the right direction. With a couple of breaks I could see the Heels perhaps becoming bowl eligible, though at this point about 5 wins seem more likely. We will find out quite a bit more when Butch matches wits with Skippy this Saturday night.
(Paul T. Lambeth II in addition to his duties here at Greensborosports.com is also the longtime host of â€œThe Classic Cornerâ€ on WSGE 91.7FM. His show can be heard each Sunday from 10a-2p at www.wsge.org )