If you had the want, or maybe better said, the courage, to navigate through UNC Football web boards the posts have not been very pleasent. Actually, ugly would describe the posts a lot more. Most of them focusing on the comments made by A.J. Blue after the game, or the mistakes made by both the coaching staff and the players, and of course the “how many wins will this team have” and “who should replace head coach Larry Fedora”. While this post will be about covering most of the above said, I will not talk about the changing of the guard for the program as that is just a knee jerk reaction by some of the fan base.
I remember in the weeks coming up to the season opener against South Carolina my posts were talking about North Carolina getting a seat at the big table of the SEC. After four games some might just wonder if this same team should even be allowed to sit at the the ACC’s table, as it is the only team without at least two wins in the conference right now.
Since coach Fedora’s arrival most of the fan base has pretty excited. From the hiring, to them a good season that could not be topped off with a bowl game due to sanctions, shifted to a very good off season of recruiting, which finally brought up the expectations for this campaign. Maybe, to be fair, the expectations might have been too high coming into 2013, as the offense had lost Bernard and two starting offensive line men to the National Football League as well as the best two defensive players from a year ago.
And while the outlook by the fans might have been a bit high, the reality of a 1 and 3 start, giving up four hundred yards in each game, over 600 when it came to last Saturday versus East Carolina, is just not going to cut it. From coming into a season where this squad was being penciled in as a long shot to win their division, in one third of the season, it is now being questioned if the squad will get to .500.
On a side note, maybe this is the game that gets the Heels fans to stop taking bets about wearing the other team’s merchandise. I have had my fill of seeing Carolina fans wearing shirts/jackets/hats/uniforms that say “Pirates” on them, and way too much purple for even a metro-sexual (yes, I took that from Mike & Mike in the Morning).
In the pre-season this squad had some of its fans thinking double digit wins, a lot more figuring nine victories and for the most part the fan base was counting on at least eight positive results. If you read around people are now leery to say that this team can get six wins and get to an early December bowl game.
“I just basically told them the second we strapped up our cleats and our pads that certain guys knew they weren’t going to give it 100 percent out there today,” Blue said. “That probably comes from lack of focus, lack of preparation. I think guys were kind of complacent today. The statistics, ECU hasn’t beat us here in a long time…That kind of carried over into some guys’ minds and that was the mindset of the team, and it hurt us today.”
If the team dose not have the talent, like it or not, fans have to deal with it. But what hurts, if true, is what A.J. Blue said about his team mates. If the fact that some of these players are not giving 100% then fixing this isn’t as easy, if possible at all. Mostly, because if what the fifth year senior stated is true, which I have no idea if it is or not, then you could say that the staff does not have control of the locker room. And if they do not, then you have a major problem. One, that unfortunately, goes a lot farther than teaching how to catch a ball, make a tackle, or anything else you coach on the gridiron.
I know that these are but young men. That is true. But, on the other hand they are young men that were old enough to sit down, look a coach in their face and sign on the bottom line. If you can do that, then you should also know what that entails, and taking games lightly or off isn’t part of it. Not one bit!
Looking at the remaining eight games and you have to work hard to find five wins for this squad, and while, as I said before, the program lost plenty from a season ago, the coaches still have plenty of talent to work with, including a first round tight end in Eric Ebron. Right now, at most, I see the Tar Heels going 4 and 4 the rest of the way, and that would put them one game too little. Which, in many ways, would describe how the this campaign went… just a little short here, there, everywhere.
Sure, both N.C. State, who kept it close with #3 Clemson, and Pittsburgh, who might be the pleasant surprise of this conference, could change from losses to wins, but that would depend on whether or not Carolina can step it up in the following weeks. If that is not the case the fan base will be once again waiting for next year to see UNC Football playing in a bowl game.
Time will tell how this season will end, but it is pretty evident that if this squad does not find the right path quickly they will go from being a long shot of winning their division to being the sure shot to be among the worst in the ACC.