North Carolina hung on to beat the Pittsburgh Panthers on the road last Saturday in an exciting football contest. UNC evened their record up and are looking in good shape to make a bowl game this season. UNC needs one more win against either Old Dominion or Duke to become bowl eligible. I took a second look at the game and wrote down some notes below. Welcome to the film room!
The impact of that first fumble cannot be understated. UNC was looking a little flat emotionally before that fumble, but after the turnover, UNC came to life and went on a crazy streak of points and good defense. Credit Kareem Martin with getting the pressure on Tom Savage. Speaking of Martin…
Boy is he unstoppable. We covered his stat line in helmet stickers, but it needs to be reiterated how good Martin was on Saturday. He was being double teamed and still beating his blocks and attacking the quarterback. UNC also brought good pressure from corner blitzes all throughout the game. Credit Vic Koenning with a great gameplan to use UNC’s faster DBs in blitz packages to pressure Savage.
I have many times mentioned how Marquise Williams doesn’t feed Eric Ebron the ball enough. Bryn Renner was very good at feeding his big tight end, but Quise and Ebron still lack chemistry that comes with weeks of practice.
In the Pitt game, Ebron was visibly frustrated after Williams made poor throws twice when he was open in the endzone. But Williams got him back on the next drive with a nice throw, and Ebron did the rest, out-running the Pitt secondary for a 60 yard gain.
Marquise’s best strength as a running quarterback is his ability to extend plays and be accurate on the move. He has converted many a third down by rolling out of the pocket and keeping his eyes downfield. He still struggles in the pocket throwing downfield, throwing a handful of inaccurate deep ball passes against the the Panthers. They aren’t turning into interceptions, but he missed some chances. He must improve in that area if he wants to keep his starting job for next year.
One other note on Marquise is his great QB sneaks for touchdowns in the first quarter. Those two plays are another example of Marquise using his feet in the right ways. He isn’t overly excited or antsy in the pocket, but instead scrambles when he has too. I like that quality in Williams.
The running game is looking stronger with explosive running backs in TJ Logan, Romar Morris, and Khris Francis. Francis excels in the screen passing game, and Logan and Morris are fast running backs who are averaging high yards per carry during the win streak. The improved offensive line, as well as the running backs understanding their roles, are a big part of the Heel’s improvement in the ground game.
In my notes I wrote “great half of football!!!” after half number one, and its true. There were few mistakes and miscommunications on defense, attacking football, and some great offense by Carolina. The key is playing that good for two quarters against Duke in two weeks.
North Carolina had a very bad stretch in the late third quarter/early fourth quarter on defense. Tom Savage and James Connor carved up the Tar Heel D better than a master chef in a best looking pumpkin competition at the State Fair.
What I noticed about the defense was that it sagged back into ECU mode. What I mean by that is UNC wasn’t very aggressive, looked asleep, and didn’t pressure the quarterback. Also, all the bad habits like bad tackling and miscommunications reared their ugly heads again. The Heels at times have looked a lot better, and that stretch was a reminder of the difference between UNC’s good defense (last drive, first half) and its bad D.
ACC refs turned in another gem with the idiocy it displayed on the enforcemnet of a penalty. The confusion was whether it should be third or second down, but that did kill Pitt’s momentum. After an Otis sack and pass gain, Pitt was held to a field goal, not a TD.
There wasn’t much to analyze about TJ Logan’s fumble on the kickoff return in the fourth quarter. To say the fumble was inexcusable would be an understatement. It is simply the case of a freshman mistake; you have to remember Logan is still young and growing into his role like many of the Tar Heels.
I love watching Ryan Switzer play. He is so quick with everything he does. I don’t remember quite when this happened, but Switzer caught a short pass on the exterior of the field. In one quick motion, he switched his body’s angle from towards the middle of the field to downfield. It was so quick, and although it didn’t mean much yardage wise, it was impressive to watch. Especially on punt returns, its like he is going a different speed than everyone else on the field.