See, I told you things would be looking up after the weekend.
Late Night with Roy was at its cheesiest best and, when the “entertainment” finally ended, revealed more basketball talent than most of us expected. More on that later.
And the football team beat bi-polar Boston College, which had barely handled three pretty average teams (Villanova, Wake Forest, Army) and played three powerhouse programs close. The Tar Heels can say they put as good a 34-10 whuppin’ on the Eagles as did Clemson (by 10), Florida State (by 14) and Southern Cal (by 28).
Hopefully, the win will bring the fans back to Kenan Stadium for the last three home games against Virginia (Homecoming), Old Dominion (for bowl eligibility?) and Duke (for a chance to spoil the surprising Blue Devils’ bid for a Coast Division title?)
Whatever the announced crowd for the 3:30 kick-off on an absolutely glorious football afternoon in Chapel Hill, the atmosphere was– in a word compared to the Miami game last Thursday night – dismal. Besides the Tar Pit, the Blue Zone and some seats between the 30s on both sides of the field, Kenan looked like the home of mostly fair-weather fans with better things to do.
Those who stayed home missed the team’s best game on defense, not letting Boston College playmakers Andre Williams and Mike Amidon beat them and proving that their shaky quarterback could not. Williams reached 1,000 yards rushing for the season with 172 against Carolina, but one third of them came on a long burst that was the only time the Eagles reached the end zone all day. Amidon, who moved here from London and chose football over fuut ball, caught eight balls but none for more than 12 yards.
Chase Rettig, meanwhile, hit only half of his 20 passes and finished with a quarterback rating of 16.9 However they compute that, Bryn Renner’s 79.2 was far better. Renner had among his most accurate games, hitting 18 of 21 for two touchdowns and no picks. And all while sharing snaps with Marquise Williams, who poses a completely different problem for defenses. The Marquise de sod had what you might call a balanced game with 55 yards running and 55 yards passing.
The Heels spent a turnover-free day, forcing more than they made for the second straight game. And their 50 yards of penalties weren’t as punitive at usual. Freshman Ryan Switzer had his first college touchdown after two earlier scores were called back, and that punting fool Tommy Hibbard boomed one howitzer 76 yards on the way to a 45-yard average that kept the Eagles caged in their own territory for much of the time.
So 2-5 after 7 games might not sound so good, but a winning season is still in the offing and that would come with a bowl bid. Next up is N.C. State, which might not be able to sit down after their 49-17 butt-whipping by second-ranked FSU. Easy for me to poke fun at that, since the Seminoles and Carolina won’t play this season.
The Tar Heels visit Raleigh Saturday, when Larry Fedora can go 2-0 against State after Butch Davis’ program lost five straight to the Wuffs, who are down to practice squad at some positions and cannot compare to the Tar Heels’ talent. Does the Wolfpack have a tight end acrobat like Eric Ebron? No. A Renner or Williams? Not after two of State’s quarterbacks have already been injured? Running backs with the speed of T.J. Logan and Khris Francis or the power of A.J. Blue and Romar Morris? Hardly. A 6-4 freshman wide receiver named Howard, who had two TDs and knocked a BC player out of the game after one? Don’t Bug this guy.
Or a defense that, it can now be said, isn’t as good as the UNC unit that is finally not to be meshed with.
Let’s make a deal, okay? If the Tar Heels come back from State with their third W, everyone who has ever thought about Chapel Hill on Homecoming must be there for Virginia on November 9. Oh, by the way, the basketball team opens its season the night before against Oakland (from Michigan), the same school Carolina beat to begin its 2005 NCAA tournament championship run.
That Tar Heel team had a righty point guard named Ray Felton; this one has lefty Marcus Paige, who everybody may love as much as Raymond some day.
That team had a junior shooting guard named Rashad McCants, who could really fill it up and was a curious character off the court; a fair comparison to P.J. Hairston?
That team had an overweight center named Sean May who had not played a full season since high school. This team has two rotund pivots, Joel James and Kennedy Meeks, who we hope can combine to play one solid season in the paint.
That team had a flash forward named Jawad Williams who did a lot of the unsung dirty work that junior James Michael McAdoo does for this team.
And that team had a one-and-done freshman forward named Marvin Williams, whose memorable three-point play against Duke won the ACC regular season race and spurred the 2005 Heels on to immortality. This team has a freshman named Isaiah Hicks, who I am telling you right now is Marvin’s equal.
Late Night with Roy cost a couple of hundred grand for all the fancy lighting, sign-work and glitzy costumes the players wore when dancing with the cheerleaders or taking turns being sideline Jay Leno’s. But it’s when they stripped down to their shorts for a 20-minute scrimmage, and P.J. knocked down his first two jumpers, that a better-than-we-expected weekend really got going.