Quick Hitters – North Carolina at Virginia

Nov 5, 2022; Charlottesville, Virginia, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels wide receiver Josh Downs (11) catches a pass for a touchdown against Virginia Cavaliers defensive back Jonas Sanker (20) during the second half at Scott Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 5, 2022; Charlottesville, Virginia, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels wide receiver Josh Downs (11) catches a pass for a touchdown against Virginia Cavaliers defensive back Jonas Sanker (20) during the second half at Scott Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports /

Isaac Schade presents Quick Hitters from UNC Football’s 31-28 road win over Virginia on Saturday afternoon.


  • North Carolina wins the 127th meeting between the Tar Heels and Cavaliers – the second most played series in all of FBS (behind only Minnesota and Wisconsin).
  • UNC is 5-0 on the road for the first time since 1997 when the Heels won five games away from home.
  • Coming into the game, Virginia hadn’t allowed an offensive touchdown in eight straight quarters. They escaped Drake Maye and the offense in the first quarter to extend to nine quarters, but Carolina had touchdowns in each of the other three quarters.
  • Josh Downs was the player of the game (we can’t give it to Drake Maye literally every week, can we?). The star WR finished with a career-high 15 receptions and a season-high 166 receiving yards (his third-highest total). Believe it or not, this is the first time in his Carolina career that Downs has tallied 100+ receiving yards in three straight games. He added a 38-yard punt return in the fourth quarter.
  • Okay but let’s not wait too long to talk about Maye. For just the third time this season he failed to reach 300 passing yards, although he’s narrowly missed on each of those occasions: 294, 284, and now 293. It was not another five-total-touchdown day, but Carolina’s QB had three – two through the air and one rushing on an impressive scramble.
  • By the way, Ohio State’s CJ Stroud, who had been tied with Maye for the most passing TDs in the nation, didn’t have any on Saturday, so Maye now holds the top spot by himself (31-29).
  • This is now the third straight game in which the Tar Heels have trailed at halftime. Mack Brown’s team has been able to spring the comeback in all three, but I’ll continue to say that this model is not sustainable.  That said – both the defense and offense have been stronger in the second half of each game, with signs of good halftime adjustments.
  • Elijah Green is making the most of his opportunity to be RB1. His 91 rushing yards are the most for a Tar Heel since Omarion Hampton’s 110 against Georgia State in the 3rd game of the season. Green has five touchdowns in the last three games.
  • It was a strong performance from CB Storm Duck, whose most impressive play of the day was a PBU in the third quarter against a receiver he wasn’t even covering. Duck’s receiver ran him into the area where the ball was thrown and he adjusted and got a hand on the ball to force a punt. This play came on the drive immediately following Carolina re-taking the lead and led to another Carolina touchdown.
  • Congrats to Cedric Gray on setting yet another new career high in tackles – 16. Carolina’s leading tackler now has 99 on the season and has five games of 13+ tackles this season.
  • Rarely do I quibble with play-calling, but the series immediately following the long Downs punt return was an odd sequence. After an incomplete to JJ Jones on first down, Coach Longo went run on second, third, and fourth down, failing to pick up the first down. You’d love to see your Heisman candidate get a shot at picking up the first down with the ball in his hands on at least one of those plays. The Heels were up 10 at that point and had the opportunity to really put the game away with a touchdown. By the way, that was the only unsuccessful fourth down attempt of the day on three attempts.
  • North Carolina wasn’t the only team hampered by injuries. Virginia was without their top three targets – Keytaon Thompson, Lavel Davis, Dontayvion Wicks.
  • Speaking of, we’ve said it, but you hate to see Noah Taylor miss the game against his former team and on his birthday no less.
  • Carolina surrendered no fewer than three third-down conversions of 8+ yards, including a 3rd-&-15. But the defense, despite being a unit in flux, once again had a strong second half. After allowing a touchdown on Virginia’s first possession, they forced three straight punts, allowing no more than 13 yards on any of those drives.
  • It was another slow start for Carolina on third downs (2-5 in the first half) but then the offense went 4-4 to start the second half.
  • My favorite UNC football stat to track this season has been red zone efficiency: both because they’ve been highly successful and because of the hilarity of the circumstances of their few misses. The number is up to now 41 trips, 37 scores (90.2%), 32 of which have been touchdowns (78.0%). That means Carolina only has four unsuccessful red zone trips this season. One was because of Mack Brown’s new penchant for going for it on fourth down (which I love) and they just didn’t convert on a 4th-&-4 against Miami. But the other three? All end-of-game victory formation kneel-downs in Carolina victories.
  • Regardless of what any other team does, all the Tar Heels need to do to clinch a spot in the ACC Championship game is win one of their final three games.
  • On a personal note, this will be my final Quick Hitters for the foreseeable future. I’m starting a new podcast next week (Locked On College Basketball) and something had to give in my life. Unfortunately, the thing on the chopping block is my writing. With that said: until next time, peace.

Box Score

Mack Brown Postgame Press Conference

Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina football game. Next up is a road game against Wake Forest on Saturday, November 12. Kickoff is at 7:30 pm ET on ESPN2.


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