Carolina Football No. 8 in AP Top 25

The Carolina football team moved up to No. 8 in the AP Top 25 Poll released on Sunday afternoon.

Last week, the Tar Heels ranked at No. 11 in the poll.

Clemson remained at the top spot.  The Carolina football team will play the Clemson Tigers Saturday night in Charlotte for the ACC Championship.

Alabama stayed at No. 2, Oklahoma moved from No. 5 to 3, Iowa dropped from 3 to 4, and Michigan State moved up one spot to round out the top 5.

Ohio State climbed to No. 6 and 2-loss Stanford vaulted from No. 13 to claim the 7th spot.  Notre Dame and Florida State round out the top ten after Carolina football.

The College Football Playoff committee will release their new rankings on Tuesday night at 7.  The committee placed the North Carolina Tar Heels at No. 14 last week.  Carolina football will need to defeat Clemson to have any shot at making the College Football Playoff.

The North Carolina Tar Heels defeated the NC State Wolfpack Saturday afternoon, 45-34.  The victory capped off an 11-1 regular season for Carolina football.

This marks the first time since January 1998 that the Tar Heel football and men’s basketball teams were ranked in the AP top 10 at the same time.

Tar Heels Overcome Mistakes, Shut Down Virginia 26-13

CHAPEL HILL – Two years ago, the Tar Heels came to the mid point of their season at 1-5.  This year, the boys-in-blue-and-argyle came to the mid point with the reverse record.  Sitting at 5-1 going into Saturday’s game against the Virginia Cavaliers, Carolina’s Football team was confident, calm, and ready.

And perhaps a little cocky, because for the second week in a row, the Tar Heels turned the ball over on their opening possession.  Starting with the ball on their own 25, UNC moved the ball methodically down field to the Virginia 30 yard line.  But that’s where the drive stalled.  Following two offensive penalties that pushed the Tar Heels back ten yards, Quarterback Marquise Williams completed a pass to Wideout Mack Hollins who was stripped of the ball and the Cavaliers’ defense swarmed to it, returning the ball 21 yards to begin their first drive in very favorable field position.

And just like that, we had a football game on our hands.

Virginia took advantage of the early mistake, driving down the field for a 35 yard field goal.

On their second try, the Heels answered back with a sustained drive, capped by a 16-yard touchdown run by TJ Logan.

Finally, mid way through the second quarter, Elijah Hood went full beast mode.  With his team trailing 10-7, Hood took a handoff at his opponent’s 3 yard line and without hesitation, proceeded to run over a Virginia defender on his way to paydirt.

Hood finished the night with 101 yards on 21 carries and 2 touchdowns, but it was the Tar Heels defense that made the biggest difference in this game.

Coming out of the halftime break locked in a 13-13 tie, the Tar Heels shut down Virginia on all six of the Cavaliers’ second half possessions, allowing no scores and creating 5 turnovers.

Meanwhile Carolina’s offense continued to roll, breaking the tie by scoring on it’s first 3 drives of the 2nd half.

Virginia’s Matt Johns had one fumble and was picked off 4 times in the second half, including a game-clinching interception to Shakeel Rashad on 4th and goal with under 6 minutes to play.

It was a penalty and turnover riddled football game, as the Tar Heels came close to a school record for penalty yardage – committing 13 fouls for 135 yards.  The difference, though was UNC was able to overcome their mistakes, while Virginia could not.

Marquise Williams made mistakes early, with the fumble on the Heels opening possession, and a later interception, but also bounced back nicely in the second half – completing 11 passes in a row at one point to finish 21 for 26 passing for 226 yards.

The defining moment of this game came late in the 3rd Quarter.  Starting with the ball on their own 7 yard line, the Tar Heels offense was 93 yards away from where they needed to be in order to add to their then slim 16-13 lead.

Calmly and systematically, Carolina marched down the field in 13 plays, chewing up clock and taking the game into the 4th quarter.

Then, once again from 3 yards out, Beast Mode Elijah Hood stuck in the dagger with another touchdown run.

Looking ahead to their next game, the Tar Heels will head to Pittsburgh this week to face the Pitt Panthers for a Thursday night matchup that will have major implications in deciding the ACC Crown.

South Carolina Proves To Be Bigger, Faster, Stronger

COLUMBIA, SC –The discussion of which Carolina is the “Real” Carolina may be for the pundits and radio shockjocks, but there was no joke about who played the Real Football Thursday night. Spurrier’s Gamecocks dominated UNC in all three phases of the game in the way that most SEC schools do when they go outside their conference — and in the way that Vegas and the experts certainly predicted. The Gamecocks only had to cover 11.5 points and did so with ease, 27-10.

The Tar Heels are certainly talented in their own right, but when playing a top five squad any analyst in the country is going to give an underdog one piece of advice: don’t give up big plays. It took UNC a total of three snaps for that to go out the window. The Gamecocks struck first on a 65-yard touchdown that set the tone for the rest of the game, and even when Fedora was making a second half push that might have cut the game to six points, his defense gave up a 75-yard touchdown run just a few plays later that would seal the deal.

While it was expected for South Carolina to put points, the most disappointing aspect of the Tar Heels opener was their total lack of offense — ten points was Fedora’s lowest output since coming to Chapel Hill. It was obviously early that UNC’s game callers would be substituting first down running plays for bubble screens to their receivers in an effort to circumvent SC’s size up front — or more specifically, Jadeveon Clowney’s size. It would suffice to say that this strategy was not successful as the Heels failed to gain 300 yards on offense.

Fedora’s 4-2-5 defense performed mildly well — holding Spurrier’s offense to a relatively pedestrian 27 points — but proved why it will be difficult for UNC to beat too many teams this season unless they outscore their opponents. It’s fair to say that the coaching staff hasn’t had the time to fully recruit for their system, but bigger SEC teams that can dominate the line are simply always going to give the 4-2-5 scheme problems, and South Carolina manhandled UNC in the box all night.

Speaking of manhandling, one of the bright spots (for fans at least) was South Carolina’s star player — and media darling — Jadeveon Clowney’s relatively pedestrian night. Though Clowney said in the post game press conference that he was “not impressed” with UNC’s future NFL draft pick and left tackle James Hurst, some might argue he should have been. Hurst dominated Clowney, holding the defensive end to three tackles, no sacks, and generally no impact on the football game.

—Though it didn’t matter. UNC was unable to force any turnovers and third-year starting QB Bryn Renner looked lost all night. In the end, South Carolina was simply bigger, faster and stronger than UNC in every way, and the SEC will continue to rule college football (and the ACC) until that simple fact starts to change.

Albright Will Add Voice to UNC Football Broadcasts

CHAPEL HILL– Tar Heel radio listeners will have a new voice to look forward to this coming football season.

Ethan Albright, a four-year North Carolina letter winner and a 16-year NFL veteran, will be featured on the Tar Heel Sports Radio Network as a football analyst for all UNC home games in 2013.

Spending time in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills, Washington Redskins, and San Diego Chargers, Albright was even named to the 2007 NFL Pro Bowl.

Albright will replace Rick Steinbacher, who has served as a network analyst since 2005. Steinbacher will continue as an analyst for road games in 2013.

“Ethan Albright will be a wonderful addition to the Tar Heel Sports Network crew,” says Steinbacher.  “I was honored to be his teammate for 5 years, and he is one of the hardest working, most dependable persons I’ve ever known.  He values the importance of preparation, is a great teammate, and fun to be around.  Carolina Fans will enjoy his perspective on the great game of football.”

Albright says he is excited to be returning to his alma mater this fall. He says he hopes he can “provide valuable insight to listeners.”

Countdown To Kickoff Begins!

Carolina fans are preparing for the first home football game of the season this Labor Day weekend.  Hosting a tailgate party or invited to one?   I’ve found some fabulous game day tailgating accessories for Tar Heel fanatics.  Let the countdown to kickoff begin!
Description: U N C Divided Platter
Show your Carolina pride in artful style with this divided platter.  The blue sky is the limit on what you can display in it.  Think munchies like nuts and cheese straws or veggies with dip or even chips and salsa.  Find it at Southern Season in time for game tailgating or as a great grad gift.  Die-hard Tar Heel fans will love it.
Description: IMAG0975.jpg
Hallmark at Eastgate Shopping Center has the platter, plates, napkins and cups to start a Tar Heel tailgate party in true color.

Description: IMAG0976.jpgDescription: IMAG0997.jpg 
A Tar Heel Touchdown Cutting Board shows off your attention to detail.  Bring on the cheese and salami!   Surprise your sweet-tooth loving fans with a chocolate tar heel.  Your savory side will enjoy a  favorite recipe made with the Ultimate Tar Heels Pasta Salad package of Carolina shaped pasta.  All from Southern Season.
Tar Heel Football Kick Off! 
And while we’re plugging a particular gourmet food shop, you can join fans on Saturday as the Tar Heels kick off the season with a live broadcast from WCHL inside of Southern Season.  What a perfect place to stock up for your game day essentials. They suggest ordering juicy, tender ribs and spicy hot wings from their Tailgating Catering Menu.  Perfect if you’re in a pinch and need to outsource the game day spread.
What to wear?  Try one of our many boutiques on Franklin Street like Julian’s or bevello, just to name a few.  Carolina blue rules the day, however you wear it!  I had to include this ad for online shop Swoozie’s who can accessorize you from tumbler to cooler to stylish dress.
Go Heels!

From the Eyes of a Heel

It’s finally that time.  GAME WEEK! 

No more long days/weeks of training camp at the football facility (including, if you were lucky, naps you might be able to catch by hiding in any available dark spot in the facility), coaches on your back 24 hours a day, waking up to the 5:30 am bullhorn, uncomfortable dorm living arrangements (although not for this year’s team that stayed at the Aloft hotel for training camp…I never thought I would be so jealous in my life), or being locked away from civilization as we know it. 

When you are locked-up in training camp, your normal everyday life is snatched away from you and your primary focus is solely on getting better as a team and as a player.  When you can muster the strength or find some down time, another important priority is to joke around with and forge new bonds and friendships with your 120 teammates.  These are the guys that you are going into the “Arena” with on the football field and who will become your brothers off the field and in the game of life. 

We are now a mere 48 hours away from kicking off with Elon and for a lot of these guys it will be like getting back on a bicycle and, for some, the jitters will be at an all-time high.  The anticipation and build up to that first kickoff to the season is unlike any feeling a player can have.  I wish there was a way to bottle it up — it’s something that I miss every year around this time, and if you ask anyone who has laced it up at any level, they are probably going to tell you the same thing. 

There is nothing like college football, especially in the South.
Carolina Football fans are very excited to see this new era of Carolina Football begin under the leadership of Larry Fedora and the era of Butch Davis finally coming to a close.  With Coach Fedora and his staff’s high flying “basketball on grass” type offense and attack style 4-2-5 defense, he is the right man that this team and University needs to take this program where all Carolina fans want it to be – to first win the Coastal Division on a consistent basis and then win the ACC to play in a BCS bowl. 

Yes, this can happen with this man at the helm; I truly believe it can be executed with the support of the UNC community and its fan base.  As funny as this may seem, Saturday will be an important step in moving that ball forward.  Fans want to support this program and rally around these young men (they are not kids) and this new staff, and I believe they are going to get it done in an impressive way. 

There are several reasons to be excited about what we’re going to see this year.  As a former offensive lineman, I believe it all starts up front and with an O line that has been ranked in the top 5 nationally by several major publications, this unit is led by preseason All-American Jonathan Cooper and Future NFL 1st day prospect James Hurst and will lead the charge out of the gates.  They will be opening holes for preseason ACC-Player of the Year candidate Gio Bernard as well as protecting our gun slinging, fiery quarterback Bryn Renner. 

On the other side of the ball, we have a true leader at linebacker to lead this year’s defense in Kevin Reddick.  When all is said and done, there is a lot to be excited about in Kenan Stadium this year!
Come early, tailgate, enjoy beautiful Chapel Hill and all it has to offer, be obnoxious, be loud and stay late. 

Also, “understand that if you go up to get a drink, you just missed a Tar Heel touchdown.” – Coach Fedora.

Let’s get ready for a new and exciting era of Carolina Football to begin!

Davis Should Go — Now

UNC can still begin moving beyond its regrettable football scandal of the last year, regardless of its final fate from the NCAA. Ohio State has conveniently provided Carolina with the model it should use in order to separate a scandalous past from a brighter future.
The Buckeyes, whose transgressions aren’t nearly as severe as those charged to the Tar Heels, immediately looked ahead by removing decorated head coach Jim Tressel after he bore responsibility for the violations by several of his players. The school installed assistant Luke Fickell as interim coach for the 2011 season.
The dirty laundry Ohio State still must deal with is off to the side and out of the public’s face, while its fans can focus on the new season without the controversy hanging over their heads on a daily basis. And perhaps Tressel’s firing and the Buckeyes vacating all of their 2010 wins, including the Sugar Bowl championship, may lessen their forthcoming NCAA penalties.
Carolina should do the same – immediately – before practice begins in August. Few objective observers truly believe that Butch Davis will survive the NCAA and academic allegations, for which he bears responsibility as the head coach and CEO of the football program but has yet to admit. Chancellor Holden Thorp, to this point a staunch supporter of Davis, told the Raleigh News and Observer that the Michael McAdoo plagiarism case “is another sad part of the whole episode.”
So Carolina’s leadership has two choices:
  1. Allow Davis to coach the 2011 season under constant inquiry and suspicion over what else may come out and what will result from the October 28 hearing with the NCAA.
  2. Remove Davis as head coach, let coordinators John Shoop and Everett Withers coach the team and give the players and fans a break from the non-stop controversy.
If Davis coaches this season, he will face the media at least 50 times after the Operation Football press confab on July 25 in Pinehurst — between training camp, weekly teleconferences and live press conferences and after each of UNC’s 12 games, home and away. There will be constant questions over what has transpired, what may yet be revealed and the NCAA hearing. It’s unreasonable that Davis and Carolina can stonewall their way through such an inquisition.
Even if they can, does the team really need that distraction?
If Davis were removed, UNC’s pile of dirty laundry would be “off to the side” and the Tar Heels could play football out from under the cloud of controversy. How refreshing that would be at this point. Whatever advantage UNC has by Davis’ presence would be negated by the side show he will create after emerging from being virtually underground for the last 7 months.
Making such a move would also give Carolina a chance to plan for the future, and there is an obvious way to do that, as well. Whoever’s in charge at UNC these days (and that’s debatable) should say, “Enough is enough” and start repairing a tarnished image.
“That so many who have nurtured and protected that reputation for so many years . . . haven’t publicly called for Davis’ head is the saddest part of the whole sorry episode.” – Scott Mooneyham, Greenville Daily Reflector

Dick Baddour, who is in the last year of his contract, could announce his retirement effective next June 30 and spend his remaining time in office dealing with the dirty laundry and preparing for October 28. UNC could begin a search for a new athletic director, whose first duty would be to hire a head coach. The next AD should come from the outside with experience in hiring coaches and overseeing those hires when necessary, an area where Baddour failed miserably.
Carolina has a history of no contingency plan that has resulted in the hiring of Carl Torbush, Matt Doherty and John Bunting, all of whom were eventually fired.
Where will UNC be if, next December, the NCAA hands down the major penalties that most knowledgeable pundits are predicting? Georgia Tech received four years of probation and a $100,000 fine for one player receiving impermissible benefits totaling $312. Two years ago, Michigan got three-year probation because its coaches exceeded the weekly 20-hour limit for practice. Clearly, the Tar Heels’ violations are more numerous and egregious.
“Butch Davis and North Carolina could face NCAA penalties more severe than USC even received.”Sporting News

No school has ever been charged with its associate head coach and recruiting coordinator (John Blake) being a paid by an agent while on the university payroll. Since that is unprecedented, there is no telling what kind of sanctions will follow. Also, the academic fraud among players and accused tutor Jennifer Wiley being hired privately by Davis are serious sins in the eyes of the NCAA, according to reports.

“ . . . if proven, those violations rank alongside any of the last decade.” – Sports Illustrated, July 11, 2011
By the terms of his contract and from the hue and cry of alumni, whose university’s reputation and integrity have been seriously compromised, Davis could never be retained if Carolina receives a major NCAA probation. But if UNC waits until November or December to fire Davis and does not have a new athletic director in place by then, what coach would want to come under such a chaotic situation? Certainly, a lame-duck Baddour hiring the fourth football coach of his tenure is not an option.

It is time for UNC to take stock of its current position and begin planning for the future. The Ohio State model looks like a good one to emulate.

That’s my opinion on the UNC football scandal, what’s yours? Comment below.