UNC routed Virginia on prime-time football Thursday night. This game might have been their best defensive performance of the season against a decent opponent anyway. The Cavaliers lone touchdown came on a pass by Phillip Sims rolling out of bounds and throwing across his body to the center of the end zone.
The defensive line set the tone for the Heels all night long. They would line up strong side or weak side. The Heels’ D-line loves to slant as well. No matter the side that the D-line was shaded to, they were not prone to slant either way. This kept the Virginia offensive line guessing. Virginia had many decent running plays, especially in the first half, but they were mostly comprised of the running back getting stuck by UNC’s line and having to cut back. Little known fact: UNC is ranked 4th in the nation in tackles for loss. Carolina came up big on Thursday night recording 9 more including 4 sacks because of stellar front line play.
The defensive line, including future NFL prospect Sylvester Williams, made the play of the game in the 3rd quarter. Virginia was on the 1 yard line and went for it on 4th and goal. Cavalier running back, Perry Jones got stuffed in the backfield. That touchdown would have tied the game at 20 and gave the home team some major momentum. There has been very few times this season that the Carolina defense has had their backs up against the wall and actually held. It’s important to note that this was the 2nd time they held in the game. The 1st time was after Giovani Bernard muffed a punt which gave Virginia the ball deep in UNC territory.
The Tar Heel secondary had a tremendous night as well. Aside from Tre Boston’s interception returned for a touchdown, the secondary was solid in coverage the entire game. Virginia’s two quarterbacks, Sims and Michael Rocco, were forced out of the pocket running due to no one being open. There was only once when coverage broke in the 4th quarter. Luckily the wide open Virginia receiver dropped a sure touchdown grab.
The Tar Heel linebackers played a great game as well. They were filling gaps and getting constant pressure on wither Virginia quarterback. UNC loves to bring pressure off the edge and did so effectively Thursday night. The two quarterback system that Virginia has played right into the hands of the UNC defense. It’s hard already enough for a quarterback to get a rhythm against a blitz-happy defense. That difficulty is multiplied exponentially when a quarterback is only playing every other series.
The UNC defense played a solid game all the way across the board. Many people expected this as they got embarrassed last week against Georgia Tech’s triple option attack. If they continue to play defense like this for their remaining game against Maryland, Maryland doesn’t stand a chance and the Heels should finish the season at 8-4.