Does anyone else feel like this recent comeback victory over State was like getting a huge monkey off the football programs proverbial back? As Fedora noted, one thing that was stressed over and over again is that the program did not want to lose to State. It’s been five years in a row, and as much as UNC has dominated State over the years in basketball, the football defeats were starting to add up. Each and every year it seemed like the Tar Heels would find a different way to lose a game, last year they were just thoroughly dominated and in the previous years Russell Wilson rented a space in the entire football programs head. NC State has never defeated the Tar Heels six years in a row, and the last time they won five in a row, UNC then rattled off a streak of its own.
In recent years UNC has had more talent on both sides of the ball, but because of “he who should not be named” (Butch Davis), the team was not prepared and did not come in with an effective game plan. Fedora has stuck to a strategy all year: fast, smart, physical. It’s payed off for the most part, and if UNC can fix it’s woes in the secondary there is no reason to think UNC can’t rattle off a few more victories in a row in this rivalry.
Next year offensively, State will lose Mike Glennon at quarterback along with the speedy wideout Tobias Palmer. State proved in the game Saturday they have no sense of a running game, and I sense that that will continue until they find a healthy back that they can rely on rather than having a running back by committee approach. UNC on the other hand should return Renner and company, and if Gio decides to stay another year would be loaded on the offensive side of the ball. Highsmith will be a tough guy to lose at receiver but the addition of a healthy TJ Thorpe next year should help.
The UNC secondary has proved it can’t stop a bunch of high schoolers, but their young and will return everyone with another year under their belt under the new defensive system. The losses of Kevin Reddick and Sly Williams will hurt though; together they account for 25 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks. State is also relatively young on the defensive side of the ball and will probably just lose cornerback David Amerson to the NFL draft, and possibly linebacker Ricky Dowdy Jr. Both would have another year of eligibility if they chose to play next year.
Overall, UNC is just starting to buy into Fedora’s system and I think the longer they play in it the more dangerous this UNC team becomes. Fedora has made a huge effort to stress that the State game is the most important game of the year, and the tears that were shed in the locker room after the victory last night proves how much this game means to them.