Big 'A' for Rivera, C-square for Fedora, Cutcliffe
Posted September 23, 2013
The weekend coaching grades:
Larry Fedora, North Carolina, C: The Tar Heels were every bit as sloppy as the dreary weather in a 28-20 loss Saturday at Georgia Tech.
Like N.C. State on Thursday in its loss to Clemson, the Heels didn’t catch many officiating/booth replay breaks, but busted plays and uneven execution contributed to the final score almost as much Tech’s spread option offensive system.
Nonetheless, Carolina’s defense was game throughout and Bryn Renner came within a devastating holding call of passing for three touchdowns despite the wet weather.
At 1-2 overall, the big picture is still relatively promising and ECU, 2-1 entering Saturday’s 12:30 p.m. in Kenan Stadium (WRAL TV), has won only twice in the 15 series games to date.
In the ACC, however, the loss in Atlanta seriously diminished the Heels’ room for error. Another road loss at Virginia Tech (Oct. 5) conceivably could practically eliminate Carolina’s hope to win the Coastal Division.
Previous grades: One D, one B.
David Cutcliffe, Duke, C: Down 27-7 to Pitt in the second quarter in Durham Saturday, the Blue Devils (2-2, 0-2) didn’t quit, which is a good sign the team won’t give up on the season at any point.
The Panthers (2-1, 1-1) held on for a 58-55 win and on balance, the Duke defense was terrible. That said, the defense still didn’t give up a touchdown during the final 19 minutes, thereby giving the offense enough possessions to make the comeback possible.
If the defense can expand on its fourth-quarter against Pitt, the Devils will have a chance to win the next three against Troy, Navy and Virginia.
Previous grades: One A, one B, one D.
Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers, A: Wall to wall, the 38-0 win Sunday over the New York Giants in Charlotte was the most complete performance in the franchise’s 19-year history.
There have been more impressive, more significant wins but the Giants (0-3) entered the game just as desperate as the Panthers (1-2) and despite a litany of personnel problems, New York still had Eli Manning at quarterback.
With extra time before going to Arizona (1-2) on Oct. 6, the win puts Rivera in position to generate some mid-season momentum.
And as inept as the Panthers looked at times in the two losses, only five of the NFC’s 16 teams (Dallas, Seattle, Chicago, Detroit and New Orleans) have a better record and four (Giants, Washington, Tampa Bay and Minnesota) are 0-3.
Previous grades: One D, one C.