Even against an opponent as weak as Old Dominion, that level of efficiency requires outstanding execution and further illustrates how much this Carolina team has improved over the course of the year.
In addition, Tar Heel fans should be excited by the play of quarterback Marquise Williams and by the fact that all 11 touchdowns were scored by a freshman or sophomore, with the offense primed for further improvement as those players mature and are joined by additional talent from this year’s class.
That said, there’s not a whole lot to be gained by looking at the X’s and O’s in this sort of game, as the Heels were so dominant that there was little need to run anything but their most vanilla stuff, relying on the huge talent differential and efficient execution to produce a dominant performance.
That said, the Monarchs did manage to take the lead briefly early in the first quarter, thanks to a muffed punt by senior Tre Boston and a 27-yard pass play that set up the touchdown from there. Then the defense managed to give up an 81-yard rush early in the third quarter, leading to another score. At the risk of focusing on nearly the only negatives in this game, we’ll take a look at what led to these defensive breakdowns.
The short answer is poor open-field tackling on the first play and poor gap discipline on the second. On the 27-yard completion setting up the first score, Carolina blitzes the corner on second-and-10, hoping to force a quick throw short of the sticks, with the safety responsible to cover for the blitzing corner, breaking down and making the tackle for a short gain if the quarterback is able to get the ball out quickly.
ODU quarterback Taylor Heinicke does exactly that, quickly getting the ball to his hot route, a hitch to the blitz side.
Boston is a bit late in his rotation but is still in decent position to make the tackle, but he doesn’t keep his weight forward, gets on his heels, and misses the open-field tackle, turning a five-yard gain into a 27-yard gain and a touchdown on the next play.
The long run was simply a matter of poor gap discipline and secondary support, the same formula that has led to backbreaking long runs in prior games, most notably the long run by South Carolina’s Mike Davis in the first game.
Bandit Norkeithus Otis rushes hard inside as though there were supposed to be an end-tackle loop with the tackle coming back outside, so Carolina winds up with two players in the “B” gap and nobody in the “C” gap allowing the running back to cut inside the safety filling the alley.
It’s not clear from the tape whether the tackle simply got caught inside on the loop or whether Otis simply lost his gap responsibility by coming too hard inside (which appears to be more likely), but this is a good example of how even against a lesser opponent, one small bust can lead to points.
That said, I can’t discuss this play without mentioning Jabari Price’s speed and effort in running this play down from behind and making the tackle. That kind of effort even in a blowout should be recognized.