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Heel Tough Blog: Notre Dame Recap

Bob Donnan- USA Today Sports

Saturday was supposed to be a chance for the Tar Heels to come in and prove they had learned from their mistakes from the team’s first three games. Instead, against a Notre Dame that was sputtering a bit out of the gate under new head coach Marcus Freeman, the Tar Heels were embarrassed at home by the Irish’s struggling offense in a 45-32 loss. Here are the takeaways from the Tar Heels first loss of the season that was more than a little concerning.

This 2022 Defense is Officially a Liability

There was some hope that the defense had woken up a bit with the fourth quarter performance against Georgia State two weeks ago, but that is unfortunately not the case. After two early stops, including a three and out to begin the game, the Irish would score on seven of the next eight possessions, leading by as much as 25. The team was absolutely dominated by the Irish up front and the team as a whole simply couldn’t get off blocks or tackle in the open field due to poor angles and technique. In the secondary, the corners looked better in one-on-one coverage, but there were still way too many receivers running free and a ton of blown coverages, especially in the second half. The Irish came in as one of the most inefficient offenses in the country, averaging 18.3 points per game and 300.3 yards per game. They had surpassed both of those averages by halftime on the way to scoring 45 points and 576 yards of total offense. Right now there doesn’t seem to be a clear answer for this unit and the offense now knows that they simply have to outscore teams to win games this season.

The Defense Has to Be Better at Getting Off The Field

One of the biggest issues for this defense on Saturday was the fact that they simply could not make 3rd down stops. The Tar Heels allowed eight third down conversions, including the 3rd and 7 early in the Irish’s third drive of the game that seemingly shifted everything for this defense. The Tar Heels had their chances to get off the field and slow Notre Dame’s momentum, but they weren’t able to execute when they needed to. That was one of the better elements of this struggling defense heading into today and now there are even questions about this moving forward.

There Are Still Questions About the Offensive Line

Don’t get me wrong: this offensive line is nowhere near as bad as last year’s unit, but Saturday proved that this is one that the jury is still out. They once again struggled to provide much push in the run game, as the team ran for just 66 yards and 2.4 yards per carry. The group allowed three more sacks to go along with the most consistent pressure it has allowed to an opponent all season and it resulted in their slowest offensive day of the season. In order for this offense to be as lethal as it needs to be to win games this season, they need to be able to get push up front and that did not happen in this one. Hopefully they can respond against another talented defensive front that has struggled a bit early next weekend against Virginia Tech.

Doesn’t Seem Like the Culture of This Defense Has Really Changed Much

One of the biggest things talked about this offseason was about the culture change that happened after the disappointment of the 2021 season. Through four games, however, there doesn’t seem to be much change, especially defensively. Many of the issues that the team had a year ago seem to still be there and, in some respects, appear to have gotten worse. For the second consecutive game, you’ve had members of your defense come to blows with today going as far as a player punching his teammate after taking a penalty. The miscommunication issues have only gotten worse and the lack of an edge is still very much present. Not to mention, there is still way too much finger-pointing going on instead of actual work be done to fix defensive mistakes. There were coaching changes made during the offseason, but it seems like the combination of holdovers from last year’s and the new staff brought in simply are not working together. You have to wonder how much longer this can continue for Mack Brown in his second tenure in Chapel Hill.

Questions About The Future of the Program Beginning to Arise

It didn’t take long for questions to start surfacing on social media about the direction of the program after this one. Tar Heel fans are frustrated with the continued lack of a defense, one that is far more talented than the units that struggled under Larry Fedora’s reign in Chapel Hill. Through the first 42 games under Brown, the team has posted an identical 24-18 record to Fedora’s first 42 games. The difference is, it felt like at this point in 2015, Fedora’s team was beginning to turn the corner after the hire of Gene Chizik in the offseason. That is not the feeling that you get from this group that has some questioning if Chizik will even have a chance to be back in Chapel Hill in 2023. If these problems were to hinder this Tar Heel team that seems to have another generational quarterback and the offensive firepower to be one of the best in the nation, you have to wonder if there will be some thoughts from those inside the program of trying to take this thing in a new direction to start winning more games.

1 comentario

Kenny Oakes
Kenny Oakes
26 sept 2022

ND is undefeated in all regular seasons games in the ACC 23 and 0. They are just better than us

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