After suffering losses at Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech, it didn’t seem possible that Carolina’s season could become more of a disappointment right? Think again. After building an early 10-0 lead in Kenan Stadium, UNC was outscored 35-15 over the last three quarters to lose 35-25 to Florida State, in a game that wasn’t even that close. It made for losses to an underwhelming FSU program in consecutive seasons, as Mack Brown is still winless against his alma mater. The defeat was the first inside Kenan Stadium this season, and dropped Carolina’s record to just 3-3, afar cry from being a preseason top 10 team. As has been the case in every defeat this season, UNC was once again outplayed up front, resulting in another inexcusable defeat.
It wasn’t that the offensive line was the main reason for Carolina’s offensive issues on Saturday (it wasn’t), they just weren’t good enough to combat the other mistakes the offense made. FSU entered being among the best teams in the country at sacking the quarterback and registering tackles for loss. Carolina was able to limit FSU to just one sack of QB Sam Howell, and only a handful of tackles in the backfield, which would lead you to believe they had a good afternoon. While they held their own in the passing game, they failed to open up consistent holes in the running game for Ty Chandler and DJ Jones. The inability to consistently run the football made it easier for Florida State to game plan to make receivers not named Josh Downs beat them. They didn’t. Ever since scoring 59 points in what was believed to be a big-time win over Virginia three weeks ago, Carolina hasn’t been the same offense, and their inability to generate any running game is proving to be costly. While it doesn’t appear that Stacey Searles will be terminated during the season, it is hard to imagine him being back in Chapel Hill, given the regression of his offensive line.
Despite knowing the game plan the Seminoles would utilize coming into Chapel Hill, Carolina simply wasn’t able to stop the Florida State rushing attack and was worn down before halftime. FSU ran it 41 times for 238 yards, which averages out to 5.8 yards per carry, as for the second consecutive season the legs of Jordan Travis were too much for Jay Bateman’s defense. Travis carried it 14 times for 121 yards and two rushing touchdowns, as he was the leading rusher for either team. Tomon Fox had arguably his best game, registering 5 total tackles, including 0.5 tackles for loss. Ray Vohasek added four tackles, while Kaimon Rucker had three stops, as FSU was able to limit the damage from Myles Murphy and Jahvaree Ritzie. The most frustrating stat was that Carolina didn’t record a sack, a week after registering 5 of them against Duke, and it’s not like Florida State is known for their stellar offensive line play. Tomari Fox, Chris Collins, and Des Evans all continue to have underwhelming seasons, and the big reason this defense didn’t take the next step is due to the lack of production upfront. With expectations out the window for this season, the last six games of the season are most likely auditions for next season, for not only the players but the coaches as well.