The final score said it all UNC 32, Notre Dame, 45, UNC was overpowered on the ground
and struggled on third down as they could not get off the field. The game started promising for Tar Heel fans as UNC scored on their opening drive with a 4-yard TD pass from Drake Maye to Josh Downs in the corner of the endzone. UNC’s defense started out great with two stops on Notre Dame’s first two offensive possessions. From there, however, it was a slow fade. UNC gave up two quick drives for touchdowns early in the second quarter as the offense sputtered. Maye looked rattled for the second straight game and the offensive line didn't do him any favors. Maye was constantly under pressure and was having to look for his checkdowns way too often. The score was close at the half giving the Tar Heel nation hope at 24-14 ND.
Notre Dame came out of the half a different team. One quick drive for a touchdown put
the Heels down 31-14. UNC’s offense came on to the field only to head right back off after one
play due to a Maye fumble in the backfield. The Tar Heels were deflated after that! If not for
two late touchdowns to Antoine Green on deep shots down the field, the score would have
been much worse. Carolina tried to mount a comeback late in the third quarter, but a very
controversial pass interference call against Cedric Gray on fourth and goal derailed the Heels'
comeback attempt before it could even get started. UNC gave up a staggering 576 total yards, 289 through the air, and 287 on the ground. “They just lined up and hit us in the face.” Quoted Mack Brown after the game. Notre Dame brutalized the defensive line of the Heels throughout the game as the Heels didn'tt have an answer for the harsh pounding running of Audric Estime.
The Heels fall to 3-1 on the year after that home loss to the Irish. Here are a few
takeaways from what I saw during the game:
1. Gene Chizik’s Defense is Getting Us Nowhere:
Everybody could tell that the defense didn't make any improvement at all. The Heels
didn't make any adjustments at any point as they continued to play off coverage giving the ND
receivers plenty of cushion to do whatever they wanted to do at any point. UNC also continued to be fooled by simple play-action plays as well as struggled with communication. This problem is not getting better. The coach has promised improvement, but I’m not confident that improvement is in this defense’s future
2. Mack Brown Got Hot:
Mack Brown certainly fired the crowd up after the Cedric Gray penalty and
an unsportsmanlike penalty was thrown after he spent about 30 seconds berating the officials. This team wants to win, and Brown said as much in his post-game press conference. He constantly wants discipline from the team, and the heels have work to do to achieve that
3. The O-line Looked Like Last Year’s O-line:
UNC gave up three sacks to the ND defense, but it was the ground game struggle that
really stood out, UNC had 28 attempts for 66 yards. That’s a 2.4-yard-per-carry average. The
longest run for the Heels was fifteen yards from Drake Maye. The lack of holes for the backs
was startling compared to the huge holes in the past three games. Drake Maye also had
thirteen carries, meaning he was often running for his life in the backfield and facing constant
4. UNC Possessed the Ball for Only 21 Minutes:
This is partially due to UNC being behind for much of the second half, but the UNC
defense could not get off the field as the Irish continuously bullied the Carolina D-line. The ND
O-line was about as good as the UNC O-line was bad. This also has to do with UNC’s lack of
being able to run the ball. Carolina drives were not taking any more than 3 minutes off the
UNC is 3-1 heading into a critical ACC opener against Virginia Tech at home. A win in
that game could go a long way toward a potential ACC coastal title.