Flipping his AK-47 Hyperbole gatling gun on to “Full Automatic”, “My Buddy” Chansky seems certain that The Sleeping Giant Woke Up last Saturday on Bobby Dodd Field at Historic Grant Field Across From The Varsity. Following The Greatest Comeback Since EVER, Art stops just short of comparing the 2015 Tar Heels to such national juggernauts as Utah and Northwestern.
I attribute the admittedly notable W more to “wearing a traditional uniform”; but Art sees it more as….
The long predicted ascension of UNC Football to the Pantheon of Collegiate Football Elite a/k/a “The Grand Awakening”.
For those Nostradamians among you who keep tract of such things…. Predictions of “The Grand Awakening of UNC Football” still trails both “The Rapture” and “The Yellowstone Caldera Goes BOOM” by double digits. We don’t count “Return of The McRib” in this list.
As with every Art’s Angle, a certain level of reader disagreement is to be expected. 🙂
Art’s Angle: Save The Date
Write down the date October 3, 2015. It may mark the official turnaround for Carolina Football, not only in the Larry Fedora era but possibly all time. Remember, Florida State was once a women’s college before it went coed and began playing football. Somewhere in there was a game like the Tar Heels’ remarkable comeback victory in Atlanta Saturday.
If so, it would have been tough matching what happened at Grant Field, a grassy grave for Carolina over the last 18 years and eight visits.
The Heels lost a game a month ago to an inferior opponent whose only advantage was it knew how to win. In the 38-31 victory over Georgia Tech, they may have finally learned for themselves. If so, buoyed by a manageable schedule moving forward, the sky could be the limit for Fedora’s fourth UNC edition. In a phrase, they did not quit when some of us may have.
How many of you were tempted or actually turned off the TV and/or radio when the Yellow Jackets methodically marched down the field on their first three, time-sapping possessions? Haven’t we seen that movie before? And wasn’t the Carolina defense beginning to look a lot like last season?
It is not a stretch to say that Fedora, the man who hired him (Bubba Cunningham) and the entire UNC football program was standing at a crossroad. And neither road looked very attractive. More mediocrity or having to mount the greatest comeback in school history.
Despite having blueprints from how Notre Dame and Duke contained the Jackets’ triple option by closing off the edges, Gene Chizik’s defense looked helpless, so much so that Georgia Tech kept going for it on fourth down. Tech Coach Paul Johnson considers himself such a genius with the triple option that, whatever alignment the defense shows, he thinks he has an answer for it. And he usually does.
Carolina completed a drive of its own to score late in the half and the defense finally forced a punt, which the Jackets botched in what was a pathetic, if abbreviated, punting exhibition by both teams. So, after scoring again, the Tar Heels were suddenly down 14-21 and receiving the second half kickoff.
They must have been doing 5-Hour Energy shots on the sideline because they scored 17 points in less than four minutes, extending into the third quarter. Now only if they could stop the Jackets – a mighty big IF. After all, the last time Carolina accomplished that in Atlanta was five head coaches ago and a not-so-gray Mack Brown on the sideline.
How good was Marquise Williams on a day when many people – Fedora and Seth Littrell, apparently not among them – thought the Marquise de sod was on a trés short leash? Were you looking for Mitch Trubisky after the first two failed drives that consumed less than five minutes on the clock? (Trouble with playing Georgia Tech is you get fewer possessions than in most games because the Jackets churn up so much time along with yardage.)
The game was enthralling but hardly perfect on both sides. Fedora gambled and goofed with an onside kick that gave Tech a short field it did not need. Less than two minutes later, the four-point deficit was 11 when Jackets’ quarterback Justin Thomas threw perhaps the best touchdown pass of his career. And after the Tar Heels got it back to four and their goal line stand stopped Thomas on two plunges when he could have waltzed it in from the edge, why did freshman Ty’Son Williams get the ball on a most critical third-and-one from their own 10-yard line?
Another shank from Carolina’s combination of petrified punters set Tech up again 36 yards from another score when linebacker Cayson Collins made the biggest play of so many in the game. He finally got the ball out of Thomas’ hands by stripping him in the backfield, forcing a fumble that Junior (and he really is a junior) Gnonkonde recovered, setting up the most spectacular snap of the game – the reverse pass from Quinshad David to Williams for the third TD reception of his career (and Davis’ fourth TD pass).
At that juncture, after spotting Tech the 21 points, Carolina had outscored the Jackets 31-7. No one does THAT at Grant Field, at least no one not named Clemson or FSU. Williams ran for his second score (Elijah Hood also had a pair) to set his personal rushing high of 148 yards. Add 134 yards passing and no picks to the one TD catch and….
….his leash is now as long as the next seven games, all imminently winnable with the likes of Wake Forest, Virginia, Pitt, Duke, Miami, Virginia Tech and N.C. State on the slate.
Pulling off the largest comeback in school history could also be remembered as a game for the ages. Despite taking over a program still on NCAA probation and recruiting under the cloud of another probe, Fedora has managed to assemble perhaps the most electrifying offense in the entire ACC. If the cloud does lift this spring, as expected, imagine what this guy unshackled could do.