CHAPEL HILL — For just the second time this season, North Carolina is coming off a victory. The Tar Heels’ 34-10 win against Boston College on Saturday snapped a four-game losing streak, and it represented by far UNC’s most complete game of the season.
During his weekly meeting with reporters earlier today, coach Larry Fedora spoke of the importance of building off the victory.
“I think that especially the last two weeks we’ve started to make some progress in some areas,” Fedora said. “And we haven’t arrived, but we’re getting better. We’re getting better in a lot of positions, and we’re getting better in a lot of situations. With as many young people playing as we’re playing, they’re getting better and they’re getting experience and they’re feeling more comfortable with what we’re doing.”
There were numerous positives for UNC on Saturday:
--For the first time this season, the Tar Heels didn’t have a turnover.
--The UNC defense allowed a season-low 261 yards, and the 59 passing yards UNC gave up were the fewest it had allowed since 1997.
--The four penalties tied a season low, as did the 50 yards associated with those penalties.
--Offensively, UNC scored touchdowns on all five of its trips inside the Boston College 20-yard line. In UNC’s previous game, the 27-23 loss against Miami, it scored touchdowns on just one of its five red-zone drives.
So what changed?
There were “a lot fewer mental mistakes in all three phases,” Fedora said on Monday, speaking of offense, defense and special teams. In previous games, the Tar Heels were at times their own worst enemy. There were the three consecutive games in which UNC had a touchdown called back because of a penalty. There was the bizarre failure to call a timeout while the play clock ran down on a 3rd-and-inches play late in the Miami game. The delay of game penalty helped set up the Hurricanes’ game-winning drive.
For the first time, UNC on Saturday played a clean game. It didn’t allow a long play outside of Andre Williams’ 56-yard touchdown run. Offensively, it finished drives in the red zone with touchdowns. Combined, it led to a dominant victory that gave UNC hope of turning around its season.
“It definitely helps,” Fedora said. “Everybody’s got a little more lift in their step. Because you invest so much and then when it pays off for you, you feel a lot better than you do the other way, I can assure you.”