CHAPEL HILL– Senior running back A.J. Blue spoke passionately to his teammates following Carolina’s abysmal effort against East Carolina Saturday. He called out the lack of effort and challenged each member to give his absolute best each and every day.
And Blue’s words seemed to have resounded in the minds of many Tar Heels at Monday’s gathering with the media. Quarterback Bryn Renner says he thinks Blue really made an impact on his teammates.
“A.J. does a great job of leading this team. I think he said all the right things. We didn’t play the way we are capable of, and it’s got to stop,” Renner says.
Renner says the offensive woes, especially in the first half on Saturday, were a result of the inability to piece together long drives. An inopportune interception also hurt the Tar Heels.
“Obviously, we didn’t convert enough first downs. I think really in the first half we just struggled maintaining drives. […] All across the board offensively we didn’t perform the way we are capable of,” Renner says.
Wide receiver T.J. Thorpe attributes struggles on offense to an overall lack of intensity and issues with communication that turns little mistakes into blaring weaknesses that can decide the outcome of a game.
“My biggest take from the game was probably just the small details. We had a lack of focus at points, whether it was me or a miscommunication with Bryn or receivers missing blocks. It’s just the finer things that we kind of just breezed over,” Thorpe says.
Thorpe also says the youth of the offense is showing up in stupid errors. And he says he thinks the losses of Giovani Bernard and veteran offensive linemen are proving tough to overcome for the Tar Heels.
“We’re taking a bit hit losing Gio. We lose three guys on the O-line who had been playing three or four years. Losing all that at once, it’s not an excuse, but guys are just now gaining game experience now. And you can kind of tell with some of the bonehead things we do,” Thorpe says.
Senior cornerback Jabari Price says he knows that Defensive Coordinator Vic Koenning has been running practices at a quicker pace to prepare the team for up-tempo offenses they face. But Price says the preparation fell short on Saturday, saying the Tar Heels were “shocked” by the Pirate speed.
And that “shock” certainly was evident at Kenan Stadium. Price says over 30 missed assignments were totaled in the ECU game. Now there’s a shocker.