Talking points: Heels in the Coastal mix
Posted October 13, 2012
1. It was a pleasant homecoming for Giovani Bernard, who attended St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale before signing on with North Carolina. He provided the biggest mismatch against Miami's defense, which had given up 600 yards on the ground against NC State and Notre Dame.
Bernard cruised for 177 yards on 27 carries and notched two touchdowns. He averaged nearly 7 yards per carry and kept the clock running in later drives.
Despite Bernard having missed 2 full games this season due to injury, he finds himself near the top of the ACC rushing standings with 652 yards.
2. Many predicted North Carolina and Miami to be a back-and-forth high scoring affair and it could have been had it not been for empty drives deep into the opposition's territory. The Tar Heels only came away with 15 points after four trips in the first half.
With 5:50 left in the 1st quarter, Bryn Renner's forced pass inside the 10-yard-line resulted in an interception. Early in the 2nd quarter, Casey Barth missed a 33-yard field goal.
Both teams couldn't convert on crucial 3rd downs, going a combined 11-for-30. The Hurricanes also went 2-for-5 on 4th downs. Neither team scored in the 4th quarter.
3. North Carolina pulled off a two-point conversion after Bernard's second touchdown, pushing the Tar Heels out to a 15-7 lead before halftime. It was a surprising decision considering the low-scoring affair, but the 2-point conversion ultimately proved to be the smart play. Miami needed a touchdown to win at the end of regulation instead of having the option to tie the game with a field goal.
4. An ineffective day for Stephen Morris came to an end in the 4th quarter when the Miami QB suffered an ankle injury. Morris completed just 12 of 26 passes for 155 yards and was intercepted twice by North Carolina.
5. For the second consecutive week the Tar Heels have had 15 penalties. It figures a team would make North Carolina pay for their careless mistakes, yet Virginia Tech and Miami failed to fully cash in on the flubs.
Feel free to play the other version of the "what if" game and consider what the Tar Heels could be capable of should they put together a flawless game.
6. In case you hadn't heard, North Carolina is ineligible to win the Coastal Division or participate in the ACC Championship game. Larry Fedora has repeatedly said it doesn't mean a darn thing and the team's stated goal is to take the division even if it won't be officially recognized.
The Tar Heels are currently 2-1 in the conference and in prime position to do just that. The rest of their slate doesn't look daunting. Duke, NC State, Virginia, Georgia Tech and Maryland should all be considered winnable or at the very least a toss-up.