2017 UNC Football: Is there hope for the Tar Heels?

CHAPEL HILL, NC - OCTOBER 07: Anthony Ratliff-Williams
CHAPEL HILL, NC - OCTOBER 07: Anthony Ratliff-Williams /

With the North Carolina Tar Heels football season looking fairly bleak, the KIH Rankings Guru tries to provide hope for those needing just that.

What is Hope?

The Dictionary defines hope as “the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.”

Scripture references hope in regards to faith, saying: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

In Star Wars hope is all that was left. In The Matrix hope was the promise of a better future. In The Wizard of OZ hope was that which was unknown yet exciting.

Hope is also a staple of sports.

During this football season, a lot of teams have hope. Undefeated squads hope to remain that way. One-loss squads hope their one loss isn’t season-ending.

But there is also hope for teams at the other end of the spectrum, teams like the North Carolina Tar Heels. At 1-5 overall and 0-3 in conference play, there isn’t much playoff hope, but is there still for this season?

Let’s take a look at three areas where hope might be found. At each spot, I will look at the hopeful outlook and then present a devil’s advocate.

Historical Precedence

Hopeful Outlook: This is the second time that Larry Fedora has entered the halfway point at 1-5.

In 2013, the Tar Heels were 1-5 and 0-3 in conference play. They were also coming off a home loss to a ranked team.

That team finished the season 5-1 to get to six wins and secure a bowl berth. If they could do that then why not now?

Devil’s Advocate: The schedule. In 2013, the Tar Heels finished the season playing five conference games and one non-conference game. They won four of the five conference games and the non-conference one.

Those four conference teams finished the season a combined 7-25 in conference play, with only one finishing at least .500. The non-conference win came against an Old Dominion squad who was in the first year of transitioning from FCS to FBS.

Their one loss was to the only legit team left on their schedule, a Duke squad that won the Coastal that year.

This season four of Carolina’s six opponents are a combined 7-1 in conference play and a combined 18-2 overall. Additionally, their most winnable conference game, comes against Pittsburgh and is on the road.

Youthful Development

Hopeful Outlook: This mainly refers to the development of Chazz Surratt but can be seen in several other young players such as Michael Carter, Myles Dorn, and Anthony Ratliff-Williams.

Surratt has had his struggles but is getting playing time.

As Fedora seems to have settled on him as his starter this only can bode well for Surratt’s future as he will get plenty of reps and learn from his mistakes and grow into the quarterback that teams will be scared of in the future.

CHAPEL HILL, NC – OCTOBER 07: Chazz Surratt
CHAPEL HILL, NC – OCTOBER 07: Chazz Surratt /

Additionally, this will be the youngest full-time starter Fedora has had, which could lead to a dangerous weapon that will one day lead the Tar Heels to glory.

Devil’s Advocate: Surratt has actually digressed over the past few games. In the past two games, Surratt has seen a huge decrease in efficiency as well as production.

He has also seen an uptick in turnovers.

It should also be noted that losing can infect a young mind. Instead of enduring through this and growing, Surratt could develop bad habits that he never loses, such as holding onto the ball or making unwise throws.

These habits are formed from leaky lines and less talented receivers and create doubt and a lack of trust that a quarterback never truly recovers from.

In other words the talent around Surratt could get better, but he may still be the same guy.

Season Spoiler

Hopeful Outlook: Even when all else fails a team, this can be one of the few bright spots. In 2014, North Carolina was able to do this to Duke. The Blue Devils were within range of a second-straight Coastal title.

However, a 45-20 pounding at the hands of the Tar Heels, left Duke one game shy as Georgia Tech took home the crown. Last season, Duke returned the favor with a one-point defeat over UNC.

That game ended up being Duke’s only conference win of the season.

Could UNC do something similar? Well there are several teams that could ill afford a loss to the Tar Heels.

Virginia Tech and Miami are both looking for Coastal crowns and both still have contests with UNC.

A loss by either to Carolina would eliminate any real chance either had at college football playoffs as well as said Coastal Crown.

Additionally, there is the chance to ruin another rival’s season in NC State. The Wolfpack are having a 2015 Tar Heel type season and have the chance to really put a statement win on said season with games against Notre Dame and Clemson still on the schedule.

Would there really be a better way to end the season than to spoil the Wolfpack’s season with a resume crippling loss? State fans may disagree, but it would definitely raise the hope factor for Chapel Hill for next year.

Devil’s Advocate: The two best teams UNC has played this season were Georgia Tech and Notre Dame. Those two squads beat UNC by a combined 66-17. Throw in the additional injuries and can UNC even field a team that can compete with any of the aforementioned squads?

Also, despite being 8-7 in his five seasons against those teams, Fedora is 4-5 the past three seasons.

Take out the 11 win 2015 season and he is 1-5 against those teams, with four of those losses decided by 17 points or more.

So is there hope? That is a great question and one that may not be answered for several more weeks.

Luckily for Tar Heel fans, if football season is a dud, there is always basketball season where the defending National Champions should be tipping off shortly.