The Tar Heels closed down their 2021 home football slate on Saturday afternoon, taking down the Wofford Terriers in comfortable fashion, 34-14. While it may not have been as dominant as many thought it could be, it was a result that was never really in doubt and gave us a nice preview at what could be on the horizon next season, especially under center. Here are our biggest takeaways from a win over Wofford that makes the Tar Heels bowl eligible.
Maye Should Have the Early Lead in the Impending Quarterback Battle
With starting quarterback Sam Howell out of the game, the Tar Heels had a chance to get a good look at the two quarterbacks that will likely be battling it out for the starting quarterback job this offseason with Sam Howell looking like he’ll head to the NFL. Jacolby Criswell got the start and had a solid performance, especially on the ground, finishing his day with 125 yards passing and 66 yards on the ground and a touchdown. The passing game was very quick pass and screen heavy with him in the game and when he did go deep, he didn’t find much success. Maye, on the other hand, found some nice success down the field, throwing a couple of beautiful 50/50 balls down the field to J.J. Jones, one that he came down with and one that he didn’t. Maye simply looked more confident in the passing game than Criswell and went through his progressions better, as well. Maye also showed off his mobility, running for 38 yards of his own on just four carries. Both guys had their moments on Saturday, but Maye was the one who flashed more and had the better overall performance in one fewer drive than Criswell. Right now, Maye should go into the offseason with the slight edge after today.
Losing Conley Really Hurts
Defensive back/kick returner JaQurious Conley suffered what appeared to be a left knee on the opening kickoff of the game and did not return to the game. While it didn’t hurt the Tar Heels in this one, not having one of their most productive players on defense would definitely be a major obstacle next weekend as they look to beat rival NC State for a third consecutive season. The most fustrating parts about this are that it happen on a kick return and against an inferior like Wofford was. If Conley can’t go next weekend, which is a real possibility after he was carried off the field on Saturday, the Tar Heels will have a major question mark at the nickelback spot, which is a big part of what this team does defensively.
This Team is Just Unpredictable in the Trenches
Neither unit was able to dominate the way they should have on Saturday, especially the defensive line. That group had some nice moments, but were pushed around way too much by the Terriers offensive line that they simply should have dominated after they looked great last week against Pittsburgh. As for the offensive line, they too had their moments where they were able to push around the Terriers defensive front that they should have had no issue driving back of line of scrimmage throughout the day. The most frustrating part about these two units continues to be the unpredictability of them from week to week and this performance makes it hard to be confident in them heading into Friday’s season finale with NC State.
There Are Very Few Answers at Other Positions That Will See Turnover
While the team got a good look at both of their quarterbacks that will be battling it ahead of next year, many of the other positions that have question marks didn’t quite find the answers that they were looking for. The running back position saw British Brooks go for 89 yards and two touchdowns, but he, along with Ty Chandler, won’t be back on Saturday. Outside of those two, no Tar Heel running back had more than 15 yards on the ground in this one, making you wonder if the staff may have to once again look to the transfer portal at the position this offseason. Meanwhile, the depth offensive linemen didn’t get nearly as much as hoped in large part because there wasn’t nearly as much separation in this game as one would have hoped, leaving many question marks for a unit that might be losing four of the five players that started for the unit on Saturday. The defensive side of the football saw very limited rotation, as well, only really getting the depth guys looks on the final drive of the game. Not exactly ideal in what was viewed as an opportunity to get some young guys some reps.