Look out, Carolina just might be back.
Carolina had not won outside of the state of North Carolina since a 38-35 win over Arizona State back in 2002, a streak of 20 games. Carolina had not won on the road since defeating Duke 45-44 in John Bunting’s swan song in 2006.
That is done with. The rout of Rutgers was so stunning and unexpected that Tarheel nation is about ready to bust a gut and so complete that tremors are being felt thru the ACC. Rutgers might just be a lousy team, but they had gone to bowl games three years in a row and were expected to be a tough out this season as well. Time will tell about the Scarlet Knights, though the performance this evening may have the Rutgers players donning scarlet letters, but instread of an A on a dress it might just be an L on the forehead.
There are still lots of cause for concern as Rutgers moved freely between the 30’s most of the night, but just like they did against Fresno State in the opener back on Labor Day Rutgers just failed to sustain drives at the critcal moments of the game. But the run defense was overall a lot better, and as the defense was more physical then has been seen in Chapel Hill recently. Plus the defense did an outstanding job of forcing turnovers all evening long, and of making the Scarlet Knights pay.
TJ Yates looked was as good tonight as he was bad at times against McNeese state. The running game was more solid, Greg Little especially had a nice night, Draughn and Houston also showed sparks. The strength continues to be the wide outs, Nicks and once again the incomperable Brandon Tate both had big games. Tate continues to build a quality resume as a jack of all trades with another 220 all purpose yards, including a 69yd connection with Yates that opened the floodgates.
Is this the type of performance that is the building block of greatness? Time will tell.
The schedule-maker is going to co-operate much as he can. Though the slate is pretty stiff. Va.Tech comes to Chapel Hill in nine days in a game that is liable to define both teams seasons. After that a trip to Miami against a Canes club that will be itching for a little pay back for last season. UConn then comes calling followed by a meeting with Notre Dame between the pines which will be a mad house. Next week a trip to Charlottesville for the Al Groh goodbye tour, but the Cavs pride will be on the line with the streak of wins since 1981 in Charlottesville will be at stake. Following that are home games with BC at GT with a open date squeezed in between followed by a final trio of Maryland, State and Duke with two of those technically on the road. Though Wallace Wade Stadium has been Kenan II for the past three decades.
Nothing that can be really considered a breather in the bunch, but also no one that Carolina will not be able to beat. Then again there is a realistic possibility Carolina could lose to anyone left on the slate. The pass rush is still an issue, one sack in two games and that came in garbage time at the end of tonights tilt. Also Carolina needs to better establish the run, the Heels used the pass to set up the run, better balance needs to be established early in the game, especially against teams that will have a lot better secondary than the pourous unit Rutgers represented this evening,
A great win for the Tarheel program, and a needed one, especially to do so in the manner that the Tarheels did. But the telling part will be in what they do for an encore.