Carolina may be an average football team, but also an unlucky one.
No team should have to go through what the Tar Heels have the last two seasons. The injuries in 2017 started early and pretty much decimated the squad that finished 3-9.
This fall it has been more like death by a thousand cuts. Take the quarterback situation.
Nathan Elliott finished last season as the starter because he was the only one left after grad transfer Brandon Harris and freshman Chaz Surratt were pounded into submission by defenses running through and over a broken offensive line.
As unfair as it seems, Elliott is destined to finish this season in the same position, which may have become so desperate that Anthony Ratliff-Williams could be practicing at quarterback this week.
None of this was Larry Fedora’s plan, although much of the fan base is blaming him both justifiably and unfairly.
Surratt sat out the first three games over the shoe-gate suspension. At Miami, it was clear Fedora wanted him to get some snaps because he is a better athlete than Elliott. And Surratt showed that with several nifty runs and a touchdown before his rust resulted in three interceptions that forced him out with more injuries.
Fedora was trying to take advantage of the new four-game red shirt rule by going to Cade Fortin and later Jace Ruder, both true freshmen. The new rule allows a player to see action in as many as four games and still preserve his red-shirt status for that season.
Fortin got his chance in the East Carolina game and against Virginia Tech and showed promise before getting injured. UNC has not released details of Fortin’s condition but by all reports it is a knee that will keep him out indefinitely and be a red-shirt frosh in 2019.
Ruder got in against Georgia Tech, the eighth game out of 11, so he could have played every snap through the State game and still joined Fortin as a red-shirt freshman next year. He led one TD drive but his arm was in a sling after the game. Carolina is left again with Elliott, a junior who hopefully won’t be our only QB again next year.
Despite all this, UNC still playing hard and good enough to win a couple of games with a little luck. The Heels certainly deserve to have some of that.