Carolina offense answers call against VT
Posted October 30, 2009
Throughout the 2009 season, Carolina has been a one-dimensional team. Except for a high-quality offensive effort against ECU, the Heels have been mainly comprised of a game-changing defense, and a stagnant offense.
In North Carolina's previous seven games, the only recipe for success Butch Davis and Co. had found was to force turnovers, hand the offense a short field, and hope for the best.
On this Thursday night, during Carolina's 20-17 win over Virginia Tech, things changed.
For starters, T.J. Yates was not a liability against Bud Foster's defense.
The junior signal-caller was solid, if not spectacular, in Blacksburg, completing 18 of 28 passes for just 131 yards, but two key scores.
Yes, his late-game interception had the potential to serve as a game-breaker for the Heels, but his ability to find Greg Little and Zack Pianalto in key situations throughout the contest often saved drives during a game in which Carolina went 10-19 on third-down conversions.
Unlike a week ago against FSU, when North Carolina’s offense continually found itself leaving the field after three plays in the game’s second half, Shaun Draughn, Ryan Houston and the rest of the Heels were able to stay on the pitch long enough to give the defense a break.
Instead of constantly having to deal with third and long, Draughn, and especially Houston, were effective enough on first and second down to allow the Heels to expand their playbook, move the chains, and hold on to the ball for 13 more minutes than their opponents.
Against the Seminoles, the Tar Heels “D” wore down in the second half and provided little resistance against Christian Ponder's right arm.
In Lane Stadium, that same defense, plenty fresh because of the three drives of 78 yards or longer that the Heels' offense was able to generate, forced Ryan Williams into a turnover that eventually led to Casey Barth’s game-winning field goal.
Sure there were specific plays you could point to that won the game for Carolina Thursday night - Greg Little's catch on fourth and seven with less than six minutes to go, Tydreke Powell's forced fumble on Tech's last possession, etc...- but if you're a Tar Heel fan, the overall picture is more important.
For weeks, the Tar Heels have tried to win with just defense, and failed.
For at least one game, Little's play-making, Pianalto's clutch catches, and the 143 rushing yards from Draughn and Houston meant that the defense didn't have to go it alone.