UNC Football Positional Grades vs. San Diego State

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Sep 6, 2014; Chapel Hill, NC, USA;North Carolina Tar Heels defender Malik Simmons (11) knocks the ball away from San Diego State Aztecs receiver Paul Pitts III (83) during the second half at Kenan Memorial Stadium. North Carolina won 31-27. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Defense: C

This is a tough category.  If the Heels had lost the game, all of the blame would have been on the defense.  As it was, the defense saved the day and secured the win for Carolina.  So, it’s a wash, and the defensive unit gets a C.

509.  That’s how many yards UNC’s defense gave up to San Diego State.  Aztec running backs Donnel Pumphrey and Chase Price had their way for most of the night, and SDSU was able to move the ball deep into UNC territory almost at will.

The defensive unit had some very bad coverage errors, like when they left Eric Judge open for a 56 yard touchdown reception.  When Judge caught the ball, there was nobody within 10 yards of him.   Carolina’s cornerback was completely burned, with Judge just running right by him.  That’s not a very good sign.

By the way, the Aztecs averaged just 258 yards a game last season.  In the Mountain West Conference, where they play teams like Utah State, Wyoming and New Mexico.  I’d like to think that the Heels have a better defense than those teams, but they did not show it on Saturday.  And if the Aztecs can put up numbers like that against Carolina, the Heels will struggle against ACC teams later this season.

But, in the end, the defense saved the day with three interceptions, two of which were in the end zone.  The last possession of the game, Carolina let San Diego State drive all the way down to the three before Tim Scott made a clutch interception.  If Scott doesn’t make that spectacular play, UNC loses the football game.  Thankfully, he did.