North Carolina beat NC State for the second year in a row on Saturday. After a 1-5 start, UNC is sitting in a much more comfortable chair at 3-5, with four winnable games remaining. The win also means that Coach Fedora is 2-0 against NC State in his young coaching career for the Heels. Great start for him and great job for this team! I went back and watched some film from the game, and took some notes below on what stood out to me. Welcome to the film room!
- UNC’s run defense hinges often times on Tre Boston coming downhill and making a tackle. This is especially in the case in the red zone, where safeties like Boston play more as linebackers because there is not much space behind them to defend. Boston made a nice stop on third down on NC State’s second drive that held them to a field goal.
- I watched Otis early on in the game and thought he really struggled matching up against an offensive tackle. In the 4-2-5 defense that UNC employs, Otis is the ram, which is a hybrid linebacker defensive end position. He pass rushes as a defensive end, but can’t seem to attack the quarterback when lining up directly opposite to a big offensive tackle. Maybe UNC should try a wrinkle in the defense where a fourth traditional lineman comes in the game and Otis is allowed to attack the QB off a blitz from a linebacker position.
- Marquise Williams is a great runner and weapon in UNC’s offense this year. But he still has a long way to go throwing the ball and with his footwork before he takes over as QB full time next season. Williams missed a couple of throws against State, including a would be touchdown to Ryan Switzer and a would be first down to Eric Ebron over the middle. Those weren’t the only poor throws, and he has to cut down on them going forward.
- Why haven’t we seen much of Romar Morris this season? With 7:44 left in the second quarter, Romar dropped a perfectly set up screen pass that should have been a touchdown. With so much talent, the margin for error at running back is small. Make a mistake and you sit down. That one drop was enough to keep Romar out of the action for much of the second half.
- Mitchell is a great runner, but not a very good passer. One example would be with 13:11 left in the third quarter, Mitchell missed a wide open receiver down the sideline for what should have been a touchdown. It was important for UNC to get and keep a lead so that Mitchell would be forced to throw the ball and try and score points. His inability to throw was the reason why Pete Thomas came into the game in the fourth quarter.
- There were a couple of hold your breath moments in this game- Eric Ebron, Marquise Williams, and Norkeithus Otis were all escorted off the field with apparent injuries. It was a good thing all those guys were okay.
- There were a couple of guys that impressed me on film. Bug Howard has great hands and, after some offseason workouts and weight training, could be the next Eric Ebron for UNC. Two cornerbacks, young Brian Walker and old Jabari Price, also had good games. Price tackled well all game and helped out on special teams, and Brian Walker had a nice interception. Walker was a four star recruit coming out of Charlotte and is just a freshman. He is another one of UNC’s good young players.
Editor’s Note- This was posted before any news broke about Bryn Renner’s injury. It has since been updated.