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 that if the UVA announcer can’t correctly pronounce a name he’ll simply make one up (we heard #14 “Quentin” Davis’ name called out quite a bit). But most importantly, we learned that the Tar Heels still have some fight left in them.
With no post-season ambitions to spur them on, it would’ve been easy for the Heels to pack things in after a tough home loss to Georgia Tech on homecoming. Instead, the boys in blue went into Thursday’s primetime conference matchup poised to make a statement. Though they struggled for three quarters to truly put much distance between themselves and the Cavaliers, Carolina rallied behind a couple of crucial defensive stops to put the game out of reach. Just five days after being gutted for 68 points by the triple-option of the Yellow Jackets, the Tar Heel defense held Virginia on two separate goal-line stands and allowed the Cavs to find the end zone just once.
The Heels excelled on the other side of the ball as well, despite a solid job by the Wahoo defense in shutting down tailback Gio Bernard. Larry Fedora’s “no huddle, no mercy” offensive machine proved to have too many weapons for the Cavs to contain. Quarterback Bryn Renner finished with an impressive three touchdowns on 315 yards passing, while true-freshman wideout Quentin, er um, Quinshad Davis ended up with 178 yards on 16 catches, just one underthrown Marquise Williams pass short of breaking an ACC record for receptions in a game. Watching Quinshad drag defenders down the sidelines on a heavy diet of quick outlet screen-passes, I couldn’t help but to be reminded of a certain #88 who used wear Carolina blue…but I digress.
While harking the sound in the crisp Charlottesville night, it hit me that this season will very soon draw to a close. It seems like just yesterday that my roommates and I stood in Teague dorm, room 112, mesmerized. We were watching the live stream of a press conference to announce the hiring of a red bull guzzling maniac from Southern Mississippi who claimed that if we so much as left our seats in Kenan Stadium to grab a drink, we would miss a Tar Heel touchdown. Standing on the doorstep to the season’s end, I think that maniac is the best thing to have happened to Carolina football in a long time.