Carolina was expected to build off their big win over Virginia last Saturday, as use that win as a catapult back into the ACC Championship game. That didn’t happen, as the Tar Heels showed up unprepared for Georgia Tech, who was more invested in the game the moment the ball was kicked in the air. The 45-22 beatdown worsened UNC’s record in Atlanta to 9-20 all-time, as Atlanta continues to be a house of horrors for the Tar Heels no matter the venue. The loss dropped UNC out of the AP top 25 rankings and barring a miraculous turnaround, and a lot of help, a New Year’s Six bowl berth doesn’t look possible. After a positive performance last week upfront in the win over UVA, UNC took another step back on both sides of the football, as the only consistent aspect of this team, and the program remains inconsistency.
Injuries forced Carolina to use multiple new faces last week against the Cavaliers, and the result was the best offensive performance of the season. This week, UNC was more healthier which meant veteran players returned to the lineup, and the result was disastrous. Sam Howell was sacked 8 times last night, and he lost three fumbles. For context, entering the game, the Yellow Jackets had recorded only 2 sacks, quadrupling their season production in a single game. Despite running the football 35 times, Carolina only managed 63 yards rushing, led by Ty Chandler’s 48 yards on 17 attempts. From the onset, Howell was never comfortable which caused the offense to never be in rhythm. Sure Carolina needs their wide receivers to create more separation, but Brian Anderson and others continue to be liabilities, something we didn’t expect at the beginning of the season. There are a lot of questions right now about this positions group, the team, and the program as a whole. Does Carolina need to be more willing to play younger, more talented players as opposed to experience? Is a coaching change necessary at the expense of Stacy Searles? These are questions that Carolina needs to answer if they want an opportunity at turning this thing around.
As disappointing as the offensive line was, the same could be the same for a defensive line that was manhandled for most of the night. Ray Vohasek recorded 5 total tackles, including one tackle for loss to lead the defensive line effort. Kaimon Rucker and Myles Murphy both record 4 total tackles, with Muphy registering the only Tar Heel sack of the night. UNC only had 6 tackles for loss, compared to 13 for Georgia Tech, as they lacked the intensity and emotion required to win road games in this conference. The Fox brothers continue to be non-factors, and Des Evans has been an afterthought since the season started at Virginia Tech. Like the offensive line, there are a lot of questions about this position group. Is Tim Cross the issue? Does Jay Bateman need to adjust his scheme? Does Carolina simply lack talent? These are the hard questions Mack Browns needs to spend all week trying to find the answers to, as the issues plaguing the program continue to be on the defensive side of the football.