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Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 26-22 road win over Boston College on Saturday afternoon.
- This was a tough and well-coached Boston College team. They came in undefeated and having played back-to-back weeks, while Carolina hadn’t played since September 12.
- Speaking of, the biggest question mark coming into the game was Carolina’s rust. Having not played in several weeks, this game was equivalent to starting the season all over again. Curiously, there were no immediate signs of rust. The offense picked up where it left off in the fourth quarter against Syracuse by scoring in their first two possessions of the game. As the game wore on however, the rust began to emerge. In some ways, today’s game felt like a reverse of the Syracuse game.
- COVID-19 factors you don’t often think of: For just the third time in Coach Brown’s 29 years of coaching, Sally was not able to travel to the game.
- It’s been well documented that the coaching staff asked Sam Howell to not run much in the 2019 campaign due to a lack of depth behind him. This year, after shedding some weight, Howell’s legs appear to be an added weapon.
- Aside from the sheer fact of Howell running is what he achieved today with his legs. On three separate occasions in the first half, the Tar Heel quarterback scrambled to pick up a first down on 3rd-and-long. If opposing defenses have to now account for this dynamic in addition to the rest of the potent offense, good luck sleeping at night to Defensive Coordinators around the conference.
- Staying with third down conversions, Carolina was an incredible 7-for-8 in the first half. However, they didn’t convert a single one in the second half; going 0-for-4.
- Trey Morrison was in all the right places tonight. The headline will be his clutch pick-two as BC was attempting to tie the game with 45 seconds remaining (reminiscent of Chazz Surratt’s interception to seal the win over Duke last year). He was also responsible for strong coverage against BC’s All-American candidate, tight end Hunter Long, including a vicious first quarter hit that jarred the ball loose on third down and forced Boston College to settle for a field goal. Morrison was third on the team with six tackles. Here’s video of the pick-two and the hit on Long:
- Prior to the 2020 season, running back Javonte Williams had scored five career touchdowns. He’s now scored five more in the first two games of the season.
- This game highlighted the importance of putting the ball in the end zone. At half time, Boston College had scored more times (four) than Carolina (three). The difference is that all three of Carolina’s scores were touchdowns while just one of BC’s was. Thusly, the Tar Heels held a 21-16 lead.
- Penalties turned into a major story line in the game. Carolina had a nice extended drive near the end of the second quarter (6:48-1:09) resulting in a touchdown and a 21-13 lead. The drive was marred by three separate infractions, however. Several other untimely penalties, such as pass interference when BC was facing 3rd-and-goal from the 32 on the final drive, kept the Heels from putting away the Eagles.
- Boston College was even more penalized (12 for 110 yards), including three straight plays of 15-yard penalties each in the third quarter.
- Well, we’ve gone long enough without mentioning Chazz Surratt. Surratt led the team in tackles (eight) and added a sack, tackle-for-loss, a pass break-up, and a quarterback hurry. The man makes his presence known all over the field.
- Howell took four sacks tonight. One of the next levels of development for the young quarterback will be getting rid of the ball more quickly when possible to cut down on the number of sacks. Adding in the dynamic of his feet will help with this, as will more quick decision-making. At the same time, we must keep in mind that we are two games into the weirdest season ever and that Howell will certainly get there.
- Dazz Newsome has been largely absent in the offense. He had just one catch today, for six yards. Would be nice to see him become more of a factor.
- Congratulations to Khafre Brown, who caught his first career touchdown today to start the scoring for the Tar Heels. Here’s the video:
- Storm Duck left the game with a left foot injury with 2:33 remaining in the game. Something to keep an eye on going forward.
- Staying with injuries, offensive lineman Josh Ezeudu didn’t even make the trip to Boston. We will continue to monitor his health.
- Carolina gave up just one turnover, but it was a costly one. Buried in his own territory, Sam Howell’s pass was tipped, and Boston College intercepted the floater to secure a first-and-goal from the five. The result was the Eagle’s only touchdown of the game prior to the very end of the game.
- Curiously, the Heels got two sacks on BC’s first drive of the game (Fox and Surratt), but only dropped the quarterback once more in the game.
- So much is made of Sam Howell’s ability to throw the ball. What a dynamic feature this brings to the Carolina offense. What might be overlooked is Carolina’s ability to slow a game down and control it on the ground. Michael Carter and Javonte Williams are proving to be a dynamic duo. The two combined for 178 rushing yards today. Carter averaged 7.6 yards per carry, while Williams was at 5.2.
Mack Brown postgame press conference:
Players postgame press conference:
Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina football game. Next up is a home game against Virginia Tech on Saturday, October 10. Kickoff is at 12:00 p.m. ET on ABC.
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