Tudor: Heels win big, but learn little

ctudor@newsobserver.comSeptember 30, 2012 

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UNC head coach Larry Fedora congratulates Quinshad Davis (14) after Davis scored a touchdown in the first quarter on Saturday September 29, 2011 at Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill, N.C. Davis had four receptions for 89 yards and two touchdowns in the Tar Heels' 66-0 victory over Idaho.

ROBERT WILLETT — rwillett@newsobserver.com

— North Carolina coach Larry Fedora suggested last week that Idaho was the best 0-4 team in college football.

Maybe so, but the Vandals team that spent Saturday afternoon sloshing around Kenan Stadium in a 66-0 loss looked more like the absolute worst 0-5 team imaginable.

By the middle of the first quarter, the real question relating to the two sides was what sort of team does Fedora have in his first season with the Tar Heels?

Against three foes — Idaho, ECU and Elon — the Tar Heels have been so dominant that Fedora and his staff could have mailed in the outcome.

Against Wake Forest and Louisville, the Heels lost games that Carolina’s players believe should have been won.

Those were also the two games in which running back Gio Bernard sat out with injuries.

Informed that this week’s opponent, ACC heavy Virginia Tech, had just taken a non-league loss against Cincinnati, Bernard at first shook his team and groaned.

“Oooh,” he said slowly but then quickly recovered his verbal footing and said the timing and the Hokies’ frame of mind would be great regardless of either team’s record.

But it seems likely that both the Heels (3-2, 0-1 ACC) and Virginia Tech (3-2, 1-0) will learn much more about themselves in one game than in the first five.

The most interesting discovery for the Heels will be the true merit of its defense.

After giving up 28 points to Wake and 36 in the first half alone at Louisville, UNC hasn’t given up a touchdown and rarely has been in danger of doing so.

Defensive lineman Sylvester Williams said the difference during the past 10 quarters has been almost entirely mental.

“We should have woke up after the Wake Forest game, but Louisville really woke us up,” Williams said.

The Heels do seem to have more defensive pieces than a lot of their conference rivals.

Granted, it was only Idaho but the second shutout of the Tar Heels’ season came on a day when Virginia and Georgia Tech had miserable defensive showings against Louisiana Tech and Middle Tennessee.

“This team is capable of doing some special things,” Fedora said. “If we keep preparing … and playing with a lot of energy, we can do some really, really good things.”

Even though Virginia Tech is now 0-2 against Big East teams, a Carolina win over the Hokies would qualify a big step in the direction Fedora wants to follow.

Tudor: 919-829-8946

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