After surrendering 68 points to a team that runs a triple option one can wonder if North Carolina can come away from that game with any confidence moving forward that the defense can have any success in their final two games. The north Carolina offense for much of the season has hidden North Carolina’s woes on defense, but Saturday even a fifty point performance could not plug enough holes for the defense. With a quick turn around on Thursday the coaching staff has to find some way for the Tar Heel defense to have some success in a town that has haunted UNC for much of the last thirty years.
The only true positive thing I can take from the Georgia tech game was Tim Scott’s pick six return and at times Kevin Reddick was able to make a few plays behind the line of scrimmage. The rest of the day was filled with mental and physical mistakes from three players trying to tackle the dive allowing the quarterback to run free for touchdowns to a secondary that allowed over two hundred passing yards on seven completions. Make no mistake it was a tremendous afternoon.
Before stamping this unit as lost with no hope for survival I want to go back in time ad remind Tar Heels of a young coach named Mack Brown. Brown’s defenses were renowned in Chapel Hill having players such as Brian Simmons, K Mays, Greg Ellis and Dre Bly, but if we go back to 1995 the young Tar heels traveled to Georgia Tech and gave up 287 yards on the ground to the Yellow Jackets. Now that team had more success that season than this Tar Heel team, and the year prior Mack Brown nearly fired Carl Torbush as the Tar Heels couldn’t stop anyone with their bend but don’t break attitude. An increase in talent and a change to more aggressive play calling turned the Tar heels around, but will turn this group of Tar Heels around.
For starters the Tar Heels have no confidence in getting off the field on third down nor does its fan base. Whether you are third and three or third and thirty the opposing offense has no fear in trying to make a first down. Georgia Tech was 9-15 on third down conversations which kept North Carolina’s offense off the field, and helped Tech hold a 16 minute advantage in time of possession. Coach Fedora loves the fast paced offense, but what sometimes helps hide a defenses shortcomings is holding onto the football for longer periods of time. The question Coach fedora has to ask is if he wants to continue to push the pace regardless of the defenses success or slow it down at times just to give the defense a chance to take a collective breath.
The last key that may help is becoming even more simpler on defense. Fedora alluded to the fact they tried multiple fronts Saturday to stop Tech. An idea may be to stick with a front and mix pressure allowing the players to become comfortable with it. Now the trade off is giving up plays because the offense knows what front your running consistently, but really has changing it up helped?
The Tar Heel defensive problems need to be solved however it may be the recruiting trail to increase the depth and talent needed to thrive in a 4-2-5 scheme. The coaches on the defensive side have a track record of success and deserve a few years before their seat becomes hotter than some believe it is right now.
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