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Will the Real Carolina Please Stand Up?

By Andrew Darvin Posted October 2, 2012 at 9:48 pm

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 the team that struggled mightily against a poor Wake Forest squad and looked completely lost in the first half of their matchup with Louisville.

It is difficult to know which of these polar opposites provides us with a better representation of the true caliber of team that Larry Fedora is fielding. Very little in the way of an assessment can be made from blowout victories against overmatched opponents. In the same way, the erratic play of the Heels on the road leaves us with more questions than answers in regards to understanding how well Coach Fedora’s new system is translating to Chapel Hill.

This lack of consistency has left the 2012 Tar Heels without a distinct identity.  Just ask the student body: most of them have no clue what to make of this year’s squad. Just the other day, for example, one of my professors asked the class for their thoughts on the ECU game. After some general murmuring, one student raised his hand and simply stated: “Well at least UNC won”. This told me a couple of things: 1) An 8:00 am corporate finance class is not exactly conducive to riveting conversation about football and 2) Many students still lack any sense of identification with this year’s team. Surely he meant to say, “Well at least we won”? Right?

Regardless, the Heels have in front of them the opportunity to make a statement against a talented conference foe this weekend. A win against Virginia Tech would certainly do a lot to generate some excitement on the Carolina bandwagon. Let’s just hope Bryn Renner and company come prepared for two halves of football, because part of me doubts this game will be decided after the first quarter.

After all, you can’t play the Vandals every week.
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