The question for North Carolina at this point is, “Where do the Tar Heels go from here?” The answer is, “Most likely, 1-5 to start.” That’s a grim set of circumstances for a team that opened the season on the fringe of the top 25 and had aspirations of an actual – not imaginary – Coastal Division title.
The Tar Heels missed a chance to make a national splash in the opener at South Carolina. They gave up 21 unanswered points at Georgia Tech. And last Saturday, they committed the cardinal sin of losing to East Carolina at home. Now they face a trip to Virginia Tech on Saturday followed by a Thursday night home game against 4-0 Miami.
The Tar Heels will be the underdog in both, and for good reason. The defense has been atrocious and the Bryn Renner-Eric Ebron-Quinshad Davis triangle has fallen considerably short of coach Larry Fedora’s lofty goals thanks to an inexperienced offensive line that has struggled to protect Renner.
The Butch Davis-John Blake talent is mostly gone and the ensuing interim-coach recruiting gap – thanks a bunch, Holden Thorp – has left the Tar Heels short-handed. Key stat: Fedora is now 1-5 at North Carolina without Giovani Bernard in the backfield.
The Tar Heels may yet compete in the Coastal Division, since that half of the ACC is so much warmed-over mush and there are still many games to play, but it seems more likely the season will limp to a final duel between 5-6 North Carolina and 5-6 Duke, the “winner” getting to spend New Year’s Eve in Shreveport.
DeCock: firstname.lastname@example.org, @LukeDeCock, 919-829-8947