UNC Football: 5 takeaways from the 55-31 loss against ECU


Sep 28, 2013; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; A general view of Kenan Memorial Stadium during a game between the East Carolina Pirates and North Carolina Tarheels. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday the North Carolina Tar Heels suffered an ugly 24 point loss to the East Carolina Pirates. Despite the lopsided score against the Tar Heels, who were favored to win the game, there was some positives in the results. However, there was a lot more ugly.

North Carolina’s defense is still non-existent

I should be able to just type ‘603 yards’ and you would understand. In fact, you probably do. It was more than just an embarrassing loss for North Carolina, but especially for the defense. Some could argue that they’ve made key plays including forcing the occasional turnover and they have, but that doesn’t and shouldn’t overshadow the embarrassing stats they’ve allowed against them. They allowed 376 passing yards, 227 rushing yards and seven touchdowns against East Carolina. What makes those numbers even worse is the fact that UNC was favored to beat ECU by a line of -13. Maybe it’s time for Jabari Price to change his Twitter bio because he’s clearly not a member of the best secondary in college football.

UNC’s discipline and penalty issues continue

Okay, granted several of the penalties against UNC were very questionable. However, that doesn’t erase the stat line and the fact that they were hammered with nine penalties for almost 100 yards, 94 yards to be exact. One of the most questionable calls against the Tar Heels was the illegal blocking call against Caleb Peterson that cost the Heels a touchdown. Peterson never even made contact with the ECU defender and just when it seemed momentum was turning into UNC’s favor, it stopped right there.

The offense is slow to start, not fast paced

One of the things Fedora first said after being introduced as the new head coach of the football team last season was that we couldn’t leave our seats to get a hamburger during the game because we’d miss a Tar Heel touchdown. Based on how long it takes our offense to just get going at a mediocre pace, we have plenty of time to get a hamburger. Especially during the first half of the game. If Bryn Renner can’t get his offense moving fast, and do it soon, North Carolina could be in for more trouble.

UNC’s offensive line doesn’t help re-establish the running game

Romar Morris and AJ Blue have taken most of the criticism so far this season for the lack of a running game. Sure they have big shoes to fill after the departure of Gio Bernard and there will be struggles, but maybe it’s not just their fault. Based on what I saw Saturday against ECU, North Carolina’s offensive line doesn’t create enough holes to allow Blue, or Morris and Francis when they’re on field, to gain significant yards against the defense. The running game suffered far too many tackles behind, near, or just a few yards past the line of scrimmage. Basically, it was a struggle for Blue and Francis to find big gains. The line also didn’t protect Renner too much as he often had to throw the ball away, scramble for a few if any yards, or take a sack.

Bryn Renner is making progress

While the offense has been slow to get going, senior quarterback Renner has shown some rather good numbers this year.  He tossed for 339 yards against Middle Tennessee State, just 218 yards against Georgia Tech in the rain, and a season high of 366 yards yesterday against East Carolina. He’s already thrown for seven touchdowns this season including a season high of three against the Pirates. While Renner’s numbers are decent and improving, he’s struggling to get his offense motivated to play and to take advantage of turnovers caused by the defense. He also needs to take advantage of having wide receivers wide open and keep from overthrowing the ball to them.