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Heel Tough Blog: NC State Recap

Updated: Nov 26, 2023

Rob Kinnan- USA Today Sports

In one of the most important games that the program has played in the last 20 years, the Tar Heels came out flat and were dominated by the rival NC State Wolfpack, 39-20. Here is a look at the biggest takeaways from one of the most embarrassing nights in the history of the Tar Heel football program.


It’s Time to Have a Serious Conversation About Mack Brown’s Future

There have been times where we have been frustrated with Mack Brown, leading to questions about the direction of the program. Tonight was different, though. In a game that was crucial for the direction of the program, the Tar Heels came out flat and didn’t seem to care when the team was down as many as 26. In the postgame, Brown went to one of his old classics when explaining what happened. “I did a very poor job of preparing our team… it’s on me completely.” At some point, if this is happening every time the team takes the field when the calendar turns to October, it’s time. One of the stated goals for Brown when he came back was to win the state. They're doing their part against, but in the game that they look at as the more important of the two, they can’t compete. There also doesn’t seem to be the care factor for this rivalry that needs to be there. Dave Doeren absolutely loathes everything about Carolina and it's why we hate that Toby Flenderson lookalike so much. Carolina needs someone on the sidelines that returns that hatred the way Roy Williams did on the hardcourt. This is also now two straight seasons where the team has collapsed down the stretch. Last year should have been a learning experience, but instead it served as a guide for this year’s team to eventually suffer the same fate. As Roy said in his retirement, sometimes you know when it’s time. It’s starting to seem like it may be time for Mack.


Mack Brown 2.0 Will Be Remembered as Wasting Two Great Quarterbacks

After tonight, there is no denying that Brown and this staff have wasted yet another great quarterback. Sam Howell and Drake Maye are the two best quarterbacks to ever put on a Tar Heel jersey and somehow, with all of the talent they possess and the talent that was recruited around them, neither will have been able to get the program to double-digit wins. Howell repeatedly put the team on his back in his time on campus and was rewarded with a 6-7 record in his final season after being preseason No. 10. As for Maye, twice he had his team’s rolling to what looked like special seasons, only to see his offensive line and defense collapse around him, leaving him helpless by the end. Mack Brown and his staff should personally apologize to both of these Tar Heel legends for not reaching the heights that they should have with them under center.


At the Least, This Should Have Been the Final Straw for Chizik

While the NC State offense had been playing better in recent weeks, what they were able to do on Saturday night is unacceptable. The Wolfpack finished with 504 yards of total offense, their most in a game since 2018, and scored on each of their first eight drives. This was the perfect capper to what was a complete implosion from this side of the ball after the win over Miami. The failed adjustments, lack of aggression and overuse of players is a big reason why Saturday should be the final time that we ever see Gene Chizik coaching in Chapel Hill.


The Inability to Handle Physicality is Part of a Needed Culture Change

Regardless of what happens with Brown, this has to be part of the focus heading into next year. The Tar Heels haven’t been able to handle physical teams in the last five years and it showed up again in this one. It makes sense that this was the case, though, based on the fact that the team did not practice in pads all week, supposedly due to injury issues. There are many problems with that to begin with, but it’s made even worse by the fact that only one major defensive contributor missed the game. That is just one part of the culture that has to change, but it is a very important part of it.

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