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Andrew Darvin

A New Blue Dawn

Senior Day against Maryland was a pretty typical game for the 2012 Tar Heels. The Terrapins, perhaps motivated by the decision to leave the ACC in favor of the Big Ten, served as a mediocre but spirited opponent. Carolina fans had obvious reasons to be frustrated, as the Tar Heels repeatedly allowed big plays on the defensive side of the ball. The special teams performed particularly poorly, fumbling a kickoff return just before halftime to allow Maryland to take a 28-21 lead, and then gave up a touchdown on the kickoff to start the second half because they only...

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Don't Blink

As a member on the board of directors for Carolina Fever here at UNC, I have the privilege of working with some really great people in bringing the student body together through Carolina athletics. And while I love witnessing a Tar Heel victory on our home turf, I can tell you from experience that nothing brings quite the same sense of camaraderie as a bus ride into enemy territory. That’s why Thursday night’s triumph in Charlottesville was particularly satisfying to yours truly. Not only did the Heels put on a great show and capture a road win in front of a national ESPN audience; I had the good fortune of being able to look on from a makeshift Carolina student section in the upper deck of Scott Stadium. So what did we learn in the land of the ‘Hoos this past Thursday night? For one thing, we learned that UVA students really like their bowties. And corduroy. And that if you really want to get under a Wahoo’s skin, it’s as easy as making a wisecrack about Thomas Jefferson. We also figured out that it’s apparently a big hit in Charlottesville to ring in the New Year after each and every score (yeah, I don’t quite get it either).  We learned that the audio people at Scott Stadium seem to have an unhealthy obsession with Gary Glitter , and...

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To This Place As To No Other

“What is it that binds us to this place as to no other?” At every home game, Charles Kuralt’s iconic quote is played from the speakers as the band walks out onto the field at Kenan Satdium, but on no other day is it as moving as on Homecoming. Returning alumni wear their emotions proudly on their sleeves, as the thrill of cheering for one’s school and seeing old pals overtakes all else. Nothing is as important to me as the interpersonal connections that I have made here at Chapel Hill, and in that respect, UNC will always be the “University of the People” to me. Many others probably feel the same way. It is appropriate, however, that Kuralt did not mention football in explaining the mystique of the University of North Carolina given the performance of the Tar Heels on Saturday. Coming off a bye week and a huge win over NC State, many UNC fans were expecting an easy victory over a Georgia Tech squad that has struggled this season. Instead of a happy Homecoming, they were treated to “the most boring 68-50 game in the history of college football,” to quote the guy standing beside me in the Tar Pit. What happened? Basically, the Yellow Jackets executed their high school triple-option offense to near perfection, and the UNC defense failed miserably in its efforts to stop...

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Redemption Song

In dedicating yourself to a team as a fan, you enter into a marriage. You’re in it for better and for worse. Within the past two weeks, the Tar Heel faithful have experienced either side of this coin. From a fan’s standpoint, last Saturday in Wallace Wade Stadium represented the lowest of lows, as those of us clad in the fairer of the two blues were forced to look on while the dookies ransacked the victory bell for just the second time in the last 23 years. “Tough” doesn’t begin to describe the loss suffered in Durham. This weekend, however, the shoe was so graciously moved to the other foot. Rather than allowing last week’s defeat to stifle their enthusiasm, the Heels brought an energy level into Saturday’s matchup against the wolfpack that was absolutely electric. When the team surged out of the smoke-filled tunnel decked out in all navy and fitted with brand new chrome helmets the Tar Pit went ballistic. By the time the smoke had cleared, the scoreboard read: Carolina  15 NC State 0. The scoring pace during the first fifteen minutes of play was so blistering, in fact, that UNC’s 25 first quarter points had the student section chanting “We want biscuits!” (alluding to the Bojangles promotion during basketball season in which discounted biscuits are given away every time the hardwood Heels reach the century mark)....

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Something's Missing

When I told my roommate Jon that I was writing this week’s “View From The Tar Pit” article, he replied, “Well, at least you’ll have a lot to talk about.” No kidding. We briefly discussed the game, and, as he walked out the door to go to a meeting, he left me with this observation: “But you have to consider that Duke is a good… well, Duke isn’t a s***ty team this year.” This loss was particularly tough to swallow from a football standpoint because, as Jon so eloquently pointed out, Duke has had a pretty awful football team for a long time. UNC had won 21 of the previous 22 matchups heading into last night, and many of those games were blowouts. The Blue Devils hadn’t qualified for a bowl since 1995, and the last time they were ranked in the Top 10 of a national poll, the United States was fighting in World War II. From 1999 through 2007, Duke compiled an atrocious 13-90 record, including a 22-game losing streak from 2005-2007. In short, Duke has basically been the laughingstock of the ACC in football for the last fifteen years or so, the epitome of a basketball school in a basketball conference. Because of the prominence of the two basketball programs, people often point to the Carolina-Duke rivalry as the best in sports. Taking a cursory glance...

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No Reservations

“You earn the respect that we want. The only way to get it is to take it.” This is what Head Coach Larry Fedora told his team in the locker room immediately following Saturday’s victory at Miami. As of late, the Heels have done just that. Heading into Saturday’s matchup fresh off of an impressive 3-game home stand, Carolina seemed poised to make a statement on the road against the Hurricanes. But while many (myself included) expected collective point totals between these two high octane offenses to approach the century mark, the game took on a different look. In fact, the contest was eerily reminiscent of the Heels’ early season loss to Wake Forest: the offense looked brilliant in flashes but sputtered on several attempts to capitalize in the red zone. As was the case against the Deacons, this failure to convert while in scoring position kept Miami just within striking distance. And of course, it didn’t help that the Tar Heels played as if they had completely abandoned any attempt to embody the first term of Coach Fedora’s “Smart, Fast, Physical” mantra. Committing 15 penalties that amounted to 140 yards of backpedaling, the team did very little to help their own cause. This being said, Fedora’s squad did manage to overcome their largely self-imposed obstacles with an exhibition of true grit. The battle was won in the trenches,...

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Hokie Smoked!

There’s a lot to make fun of about Virginia Tech. The Hokies have never won a National Championship in a varsity sport. They selected a hideous color scheme that was only chosen because no other team had it (or would ever want it, quite frankly). Cows outnumber people on their campus, and the number of traffic lights in Blacksburg can be counted on your fingers, which is good since Tech students might not be able to do it any other way. Their mascot is a turkey, for goodness’ sake. Despite these shortcomings, one thing that the Hokies get absolutely, positively right is the atmosphere on football gamedays. Lane Stadium is, objectively, one of the best places to watch a football game in the country. Everyone knows to wear that ugly Chicago maroon and burnt orange. Everyone knows how to do the annoying cheers, and they do them in unison. That stupid turkey mascot looks like he (or she) would run through a brick wall if it meant that the Hokies would win. Though they may be self-righteous occasionally, the fans in Blacksburg are generally respectful of their opponents and care deeply about their own team. Frank Beamer usually fields one of the best squads in the ACC, and the level of fan commitment, though not the only factor, has played no small part in Tech’s recent 7-1 run against...

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Will the Real Carolina Please Stand Up?

So I’m guessing you’ve all heard the one about the windshield and the bug? Throw a good bit of rain into that analogy and you have a pretty accurate depiction of the encounter between the Tar Heels and the Vandals this past Saturday in Kenan Stadium. With the no-huddle offense clicking on all cylinders, Carolina jumped out to a 28 to nothing lead in the first quarter and never looked back. But in all honesty, Saturday’s game was little more than a farce. This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy myself: you’d be hard pressed to ever find me complaining about a Carolina victory. And of course, we witnessed history as the Heels eclipsed their previous all-time scoring record of 65 by one point. But what Saturday amounted to was a joke. Without attempting to put it lightly (and truthfully, I find myself bereft of any euphemisms with which to state this in a manner that is more journalistically appropriate), Idaho is not good at football. Scratch that: Idaho is terrible at football. Which brings us to an important issue: without the presence of legitimate competition, how do we gauge the progress of our team? As fans this year, we’ve seen either end of the spectrum. There’s the Tar Heel team that seems unstoppable: the team that absolutely steamrolled the likes of Elon and Idaho. Then there’s...

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E-C-Who?

To most Carolina fans, ECU is like a much younger brother. It’s sort of cute and amusing the way he thinks that he can compete with you and all your friends when you play pick-up games, much like how ECU thinks that they have a football rivalry with UNC (Seriously, check their Wikipedia page) and how they want to join the Big East. You sort of just laugh and shake your head when you hear his protests that he’d be really good if you just gave him a chance. Occasionally you let him play with you to be nice, and most of the time, he gets crushed, but you don’t rub it in because it’s not a big deal or even important to you. You’re expected to win because you’re bigger, stronger, faster: End of story. The trouble is that every once in awhile, you play poorly, your brother plays out of his mind, and you get a little bit unlucky, resulting in a rare victory for the younger sibling. This, while obviously a little embarrassing, wouldn’t be such a terrible thing in and of itself. It’s the way your younger brother then proceeds to talk about it 24/7 to every person in the entire world, like it’s the greatest achievement of mankind since the lunar landing, that’s the real problem. Suffering through unwarranted arrogance, as UNC fans were...

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Let's Commit

Above each locker in the UNC football locker room, there is a nameplate. Beside each nameplate there is a sign that reads either “resistant,” “existent,” “compliant,” “committed,” or “compelled.” These labels were derived for each player based on coaches’ evaluations of their level of effort shown in pre-season workouts and practices. The titles are pretty self-explanatory: a player who has shown a dedication to self-improvement and has contributed to the collective progress of the team is deemed “committed” or “compelled”, while a player who has shown little or no work ethic is given a less flattering designation. In watching Saturday’s game at Louisville, I could only wonder what these evaluations would look like if they were to be updated for the halftime locker room based on the day’s performance. For much of the game, the Heels looked as if they could barely be considered “existent.” Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and the Cardinals’ offense seemed to score at will, averaging nearly ten yards per play in the first half. The Tar Heel secondary was ripe with missed defensive assignments, allowing Bridgewater to find more than his fair share of open targets. This was only ameliorated by the fact that the defensive line appeared entirely disinterested at the prospect of having to shed their blockers in order to make a tackle. Describing Carolina’s defense as porous would be a drastic understatement....

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