Tar Heel Football Pregame at Hickory Tavern

Join WCHL at Hickory Tavern in Carrboro for your Tar Heel Football pregame festivities.

WCHL will be broadcasting “Countdown to Kickoff with Ron Stutts” from 12:30 PM until 2:30 PM on Saturday, October 24 on 97.9 FM, 1360 AM and online at Chapelboro.com.

The Tar Heels take on the Virginia Cavaliers at 3:30 at Kenan Stadium.  Carolina is 5-1 on the season and is looking to go 3-0 in the ACC after last week’s win over Wake Forest.  The Tar Heels’ 2-0 start in conference play is the best the team has seen since 1997.  In Mack Brown’s final season as head coach in Chapel Hill, the Tar Heels finished 11-1, ranked fourth in the final Coaches Top 25 poll after a win against Virginia Tech in the Gator Bowl. Led by future NFL players like Dre Bly and Alge Crumpler, the 1997 group is still the last UNC team to begin ACC play 2-0.

Hickory Tavern is located on 310-110 East Main Street in Carrboro.

While you are visiting Hickory Tavern, be sure to sign up for our Carolina Basketball Holiday Hoops in Brooklyn Giveaway.

WCHL will be broadcasting live from Hickory Tavern in Carrboro for every home Tar Heel football pregame for the rest of the season.  So, before every home game, be sure to stop by Hickory Tavern!



3 Years Ago: Giovani Bernard Returns Game Winning Touchdown

“No he’s not!  Yes he is!”

Jones Angell exclaimed those words three years ago when Giovani Bernard returned a Wolfpack punt for a game-winning touchdown.

The game, on October 27, 2012, was tied at 35 with 30 seconds left in regulation.  NC State punter Wil Baumann stood on his team’s 11 yard line.  He took the long-snap, stepped up, and booted the football away.

Fifteen seconds later, Giovani Bernard was running into the end-zone and the Kenan Stadium crowd went wild.  It was a good day for Giovani Bernard.  This was his third touchdown.

The 73-yard punt return by Giovani Bernard put the Tar Heels up 41-35 over the Wolfpack.  A two-point conversion pushed the lead to 43-35.  The Wolfpack failed at an onside-kick attempt and then Bryn Renner took a knee to end the game.

SBNation said the game was one of the best of 2012.

Head coach Larry Fedora was in his first year with the Tar Heels.  The win was Carolina’s first over NC State after five straight losses.

Giovani Bernard was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2013.  In less than 3 seasons in the NFL, the running back has scored 17 total touchdowns.  All of that scoring has come on offense.

In 2015, the Tar Heel football team is beginning to generate the kind of excitement that was seen in Kenan Stadium on October 27, 2012.  The Tar Heels are undefeated in the ACC and are 6-1, overall.

Relive the magical play via the ACC Digital Network.  We get the call from television at the beginning of the video, so make sure you stick around for the second angle of the play featuring the incredible radio call from Jones Angell.



Art’s Angle: What Good Programs Do

The North Carolina football team did not pummel Wake Forest Saturday night. The North Carolina program did, with players of all ages, shapes and sizes getting into the game. And that is an important distinction in Larry Fedora’s quest to bring championships back to Chapel Hill in the oblong sport.

Without five players on the defensive two-deep and showing more weapons than the New England Patriots on offense, the Tar Heels took the first quarter off and then scored 50 points over the next 32 minutes against the undermanned and overwhelmed Demon Deacons, who didn’t know what hit them once the blitzkrieg began.

Imagine if Carolina had started playing at 7 p.m. with everyone else and hadn’t called off the dogs over the last 10 minutes. The final might have been 80-14 instead of 50-14, as the Heels opened 2-0 in the ACC for the first time since 1997 in the Mack Brown era and third time since 1984 in the Dick Crum era. The last time UNC won five of its first six games was 2011, before that season collapsed under interim coach Everett Withers. This season holds no such promise.

Marquise Williams completed his first three passes, two to the guys in the gold helmets and white unies. Then the Marquis de sod had a stern talk with himself on the sideline and, once again, was the best player on the field. He hit his walk-on speedster Mack Hollins with three passes, two bombs and all touchdowns. Waterbug Austin Proehl, whose father starred for Wake Forest (before playing 17 seasons in the NFL) had four catches, one turning into a sideline sprint to the half-yard line, and those guys are like the fourth- and fifth-receivers in Fedora’s big-play playbook.

The quick-strike offense and blundering officials created plenty of noise in the less-than-full, fall-break house during a rare mid-October night game as the points climbed and the temperature dropped at about the same rate in Kenan Stadium. The Tar Heels’ seven touchdowns – they averaged 10 yards per snap overall – used up barely eight minutes of clock time, their four second-quarter scores coming on drives that took in 52 seconds, 1:36, :21 and 1:47. By then, the upset-minded Deacons faced their fourth loss of the season against wins over Elon, Army and Boston College. Their ranking as the 15th best total defense in the country proved a sham, a product of their impotent opposition after being shredded for 538 yards, 152 more than Wake had given up in any other game.

Seriously, Carolina might have run up a thousand yards, except that the Deacs’ game plan to hold the ball and keep Carolina off the field worked only in holding down the score. The officials played their part, as well, when they ruled Ryan Switzer called for a fair catch before returning a punt to inside the Wake Forest 10. Switzer never raised either arm before nonchalantly catching the punt and the blasting out of the pack. He was called for delay of game for taking up the refs’ valuable time after supposedly calling for the phantom fair catch. The zebras caught it between the stripes from the home crowd the rest of the game.

Wake managed one touchdown in each half, thanks to Gene Chizik’s bend-don’t-break defense, which continues its remarkable turnaround from last season’s sieve-like unit under an entirely different defensive staff. The Tar Heels held Wake to 54 yards in the second half after given up 256 in the first, led by the best linebacker duo in the ACC, Shak Rashad and Jeff Schoettmer, who have noses for the ball and hit whoever has it very hard.

Chiz and Fed make up an equally good coaching combo, the D-coordinator who stays in the box upstairs, glasses on the tip of his nose and calming a slow-starting defense through the headset and the Red-Bull hyped head coach who wears out the sideline like a mad scientist. They have put together a team that can go places after passing the halfway mark on the schedule.

It was a night under the stars and for the stars, from Williams’ fourth pass to Mitch Trubisky’s fake-and-run for the seventh TD before Fedora emptied his thin bench. In between, Elijah Hood ran for 100-plus more yards, exploding for 29 and 36 yards on the 21-second scoring drive. Why not give No. 34 the ball more, the fans want to know and let the running game set up the pass instead of vice versa?

Good question about the seemingly underutilized sophomore from Charlotte, but who can argue with 50 points in a little more than two quarters? The Tar Heels keep steam-rolling through a conducive schedule that has 2-4 Virginia coming up Saturday before what looks like their toughest test at surprising 5-1 Pitt, which dealt ACC Coastal Division favorite Georgia Tech an un-imanageable fifth straight loss Saturday. Clearly, the Coastal is Carolina’s for the taking, if it just will.

That’s what good programs do.


UNC Football Motivated in the Motor City

The Tar Heel football team takes its 6-6 record up to the Motor City to take on the 7-5 Rutgers Scarlet Knights in the Quick Lane Bowl held at the home of the Detroit Lions: Ford Field.

For UNC, a win would be a decent consolation prize on a season that kicked off with a disappointing 2-4 start.  For the Scarlet Knights, it would be a bowl victory for head coach Kyle Flood in the program’s inaugural season as a member of the Big Ten.

Boasting a high powered offense that finished 3rd in the ACC in both scoring and total offense, the Tar Heels know that it is important to stay focused on that side of the ball if they want to have a chance at a victory in Detroit.  Quarterback Marquise Williams aims to reach the season milestones of 3,000 yards passing and 750 yards rushing against a Rutgers defense ranked 90th nationally in scoring defense, allowing just under 31 points per game.

Receiver Quinshad Davis looks to claim the all-time school receiving touchdown record

Receiver Quinshad Davis looks to claim the all-time school receiving touchdown record (ajc.com)

Junior receiver Quinshad Davis also looks to add a record of his own in Detroit. By hauling in one touchdown catch, Davis will have 22 for his career, surpassing the record he shares with former wideout Hakeem Nicks.

The defensive side of the ball is where most of the struggles have come for the Heels this season. As a result, defensive coordinator Vic Koenning opted to leave the team and will not be around to coach in the bowl game.

Coach Larry Fedora says in regard to the defensive philosophy against Rutgers, that “we’ve tweaked some things, added a few things, taken other things out, all trying to take advantage of the personnel that we’re going to have out there on the field.”

The Scarlet Knights, if they keep to what they’ve done all season, will look to pound the football up the middle with their pro-style offense, looking to set up the play action pass for 2nd Team All-Big Ten wide receiver Leonte Carroo. The 6’1″ Carroo has been the top target for quarterback Gary Nova, amassing over 1,000 yards already this year.

Rutgers standout receiver Leonte Carroo (ESPN)

Rutgers standout receiver Leonte Carroo (ESPN)

Cornerbacks coach Dan Disch will take over as the interim defensive coordinator for this game, and so far he likes the effort level that he’s seen in the practices leading up to Detroit.  He gives credit to the players for having their minds in the right place, saying that “they understand its a business.”

Motivation has not been scarce during the bowl season as redshirt freshman defensive end Dajuan Drennon says “Coach Disch has a lot of energy, he’s a real amped up guy, and that gets us going.”  Drennon also says that although the defense has received the bulk of the criticism for the team failing to meet expectations, “we’re looking at this game as the first game of the 2015 season, so this is just the building block.”

The meeting will be the 7th all time between the two teams, with the all-time series split at three apiece.  The Tar Heels have won the last three meetings, including the most recent, a 24-22 win back in September of 2011.


UNC Football Aims to Stay Focused Offensively

As the 6-6 UNC football team prepares for the Quick Lane Bowl against Rutgers, the offense looks to stay focused and establish some type of consistency, with hopes of finishing the season with a winning record for the third time under head coach Larry Fedora.

Offensive coordinator Seth Littrell says inconsistency plagued the offense throughout the year, and was the main reason they never reached the level of potential he believes this group could have achieved.  However, he still sees plenty of reasons for motivation on his side of the ball; recovering from the devastating regular season-ending loss to NC State being the most influential.

While it may be easy to conclude that players would have their eyes set on winter break after a frustrating season capped with a loss in the NC State game, junior offensive guard Landon Turner says that “nobody has cashed in on this season at all, we’re still 100 percent focused, it’s still 2014, so we’ll worry about 2015 when it gets here.”

Quarterback Marquise Williams spear-heads the UNC attack  (ACC.blogs)

Quarterback Marquise Williams spear-heads the UNC attack (ACC.blogs)

Closing the year with a win to rinse out the bad taste left behind from the State game seems to be the dominant theme in the locker room, but there are still other goals to be accomplished for some of the members of the offense.

With a touchdown catch against the Scarlet Knights, junior wide receiver Quinshad Davis would break his tie with Hakeem Nicks atop the school’s list of all-time touchdown receptions, leaving him all alone at the top with 22 for his career.

Also, the game will give promising freshman tailback Elijah Hood a chance to prove that he is fully recovered from the injuries that have cost him the last two months of the season, as well as an opportunity to impress coaches leading into next year’s campaign.

The Quick Lane Bowl will be shown on ESPN at 4:30 P.M. on December 26th from inside the home of the NFL’s Detroit Lions, Ford Field.


NCAA Finished With AFAM Investigation

CHAPEL HILL – The NCAA tells North Carolina athletic officials that it isn’t considering additional charges connected to academic fraud in the university’s African studies department.

The school on Saturday released two emails from Sept. 26 after a records request.

The first is from UNC senior associate athletic director Vince Ille to NCAA associate director of enforcement Mike Zonder. Ille asked whether he correctly assumed the NCAA wasn’t planning additional investigation or charges of irregularities in the school’s African studies department. Zonder replied that “you are correct in your assessment.”

The NCAA sanctioned UNC for academic misconduct within its football program in March 2012.

The school said that August that the NCAA had reviewed irregularities including no-show classes and unauthorized grade changes in classes with significant athlete enrollments and found no rule violations.


Tar Heel Football Stars Embrace Bye Week

CHAPEL HILL–The bye week for the Carolina football team may be coming at just the right time. With two completely different caliber opponents to start the season, it can be tough to judge exactly where the Tar Heels stand.

But senior signal caller Bryn Renner says he thinks the run game will benefit from some extra work in the week away from the big stage.

“I think we just need to take more reps. It’s tough to get a fair assessment after two games, but I think we ran the ball pretty well against South Carolina. […] Those guys up front do a great job protecting me,” Renner says.

Renner says nothing beats getting a win at home and wiping that bad feeling out of the stomach from the South Carolina loss heading into the bye week.

Running back Romar Morris, who scored two touchdowns on Saturday, says he thinks the problem with the overall rushing attack has nothing to do with the offensive line. He says the linemen are improving with each practice.

“The offensive line is getting better and better every week. […] The offensive line is looking good,” Morris says.

Morris says he believes the bye week will help the offense to prepare for the tricky schemes that Georgia Tech offers up on defense.

On the other side of the ball, senior safety Tre Boston, who came up with a momentum-changing interception against Middle Tennessee, says he has seen his teammates developing into stronger defenders. Boston says the defense is ready to show off.

“We want to show how good we are. We know how good we are as a defense. And we know how good we are as a secondary. It’s one of those things as a defense we need to show it. We need to show the people what we are capable of,” Boston says.



ACC Combo: James Hurst and Noon Game

GREENSBORO–Tar Heel football fans got a double dose of excitement Monday.

First off, the ACC released its Football Players of the Week and Carolina’s own standout senior James Hurt was named Offensive Lineman of the Week.

Hurst played 80 snaps and totaled a 92 percent grade in Carolina’s 40-20 triumph over Middle Tennessee Saturday. UNC gained 511 total yards of offense and eclipsed 40 points for the sixth time in Coach Larry Fedora’s tenure.

Hurst racked up 12 knockdown blocks and did not allow a single sack or quarterback pressure.

The other news coming out of the ACC is the release of the game times and TV networks for Saturday, Sept. 21.

The Tar Heels will be taking on Georgia Tech in Atlanta, and the pivotal contest will be kicking off at high noon. The game will be broadcast on one of the ESPN networks-ESPN, ESPN2, or ESPNU. The specific network will be selected by Sept. 15.

Another marquee ACC match-up to look out for that week will see the third-ranked Clemson Tigers play at NC State in the Thursday night feature Sept. 19 on ESPN.


Tar Heel Downtown Set To Rock Franklin Street

CHAPEL HILL – The national spotlight will be on the Tar Heel football team for a Thursday night contest against the Miami Hurricanes on October 17th. But the bright lights won’t just be cast on Kenan Stadium.

Tar Heel Downtown will bring the focus to Franklin Street for pregame festivities from 4 to 7 p.m., showcasing the best the Town of Chapel Hill has to offer to a national and worldwide audience.

The event, staged on West Franklin Street from Columbia to Mallette streets and centered at the 140 West Plaza, will hope to showcase the unique college town atmosphere of the University and Chapel Hill community.

Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt announced the big plans on Monday. He says he is excited to welcome ESPN and the entire country to the streets of downtown Chapel Hill for a “party worthy of that attention.”

“This particular event makes me particularly excited, because this time I am going to be inviting all of my fellow Tar Heel fans from across the region to come out and help us put on a great show for millions of viewers from across the country,” Kleinschmidt says.

Planned and coordinated by the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership, UNC Athletics and The Town of Chapel Hill, this fun, free, family-friendly event will be covered by ESPN. A Tar Heel alumnus, John Skipper, runs the leading sports broadcast company.

UNC Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham says Tar Heel downtown will be a great opportunity for folks around the country to get a glimpse of the character and cozy atmosphere of Chapel Hill.

“What I really hope that ESPN does is be able to highlight what a wonderful town Chapel Hill is. In all of the surrounding buildings, what we’ve been doing on Franklin Street, I think it is a great way for us to allow a lot of people throughout the country to see what Chapel Hill is all about,” says Cunningham.

Mayor Kleinschmidt says one of the attractive qualities of downtown Chapel Hill is the entrepreneurial mindset of so many business owners, continually branding and re-branding their businesses to offer new and improved services to students, residents and visitors alike.

When asked about the possible crazy atmosphere surrounding the huge national event on Franklin Street, Cunningham and Kleinschmidt offered up some advice.

“We want as many fans to come, but don’t be any worse than you are on Halloween,” Cunningham says.

“That’s setting a pretty low bar,” Kleinschmidt replies. “That means you can come have a good time. We’ll have fun.

At the event, there will be live broadcasting during the Countdown to Kickoff Radio Show on Franklin Street and live performances from Liquid Pleasure, Carolina Cheerleaders, and the Marching Tar Heels.

In addition, bounce houses and face painting will be provided for children while Carolina giveaways will be provided by the Rams Club and Carolina Athletics.


Coach Fedora: Striving for More

CHAPEL HILL– Carolina football is getting back on track. The Tar Heels posted a 40-20 rebound win over Middle Tennessee State on Saturday in Kenan Stadium, evening their season record at 1-1.

Now entering a bye week, Coach Fedora says there is still plenty for his team to work on, but there were some bright spots displayed out on the field in the home opener.

“No matter what happens, we got to play the game one way. And I thought there were a lot of times today that we were playing the type of ball that we want to play. And then there were other times that we didn’t,” Coach Fedora says.

Coach Fedora says the turnover caused by senior safety Tre Boston on MTSU’s opening drive was a game changing play for the Tar Heels. It rallied the team.

“I think the main thing is we just settled down after the first drive. It was huge getting the turnover down there on the first drive. […] I thought our defense, especially in that first half, played really well,” Coach Fedora says.

Yes, it wasn’t just your imagination. Carolina did kick off to start both halves of football on Saturday. But Coach Fedora jokingly says it was all a part of the game plan for the Blue Raiders.

“That was our strategy going into the game. We felt like if we kicked off twice to them, it would help them out. We wanted to see if we could get more time with the defense on the field,” Coach Fedora quips.

But let there be no mistake, Coach Fedora and his staff demand perfection from their players. Coach Fedora says every play in every game is scrutinized and analyzed for that reason.

“When we go back and look at the film, that’s all we are doing, dissecting each and every play. We don’t just say good play. It’s all eleven guys on the field did they do exactly what we expect them to do with the technique that we teach them,” Coach Fedora says.

Up next for the Tar Heels following the bye week is a date with Georgia Tech and their troubling option offense on the 21st in Atlanta.