“I take a lot of responsibility every time that we play, and I don’t think that we particularly played very well today, and I personally take responsibility for that,” Davis said. “… I’m very disappointed with the way in which we performed and played today.”
Kevin Marion returned two kickoffs for 190 yards – one for a score and the other setting up a touchdown at the UNC 14-yard line – and Sam Swank added three field goals, as the Demon Deacons’ dominating special teams units proved too strong for North Carolina.
“We have got to find a way to help our coverage units to limit some of that field position, because we continually keep putting our defense on the field, if not scoring points, at least setting up the opportunity to score points and that’s something that has to stop these next four ball games,” Davis said.
In what has become a reoccurring nightmare for North Carolina, poor execution and untimely penalties prevented offensive coordinator John Shoop’s unit from establishing any rhythm or momentum. The Tar Heels committed nine penalties for 60 yards, including three false start penalties on 3rd-and-long during their first five drives.
The Demon Deacons used the crowd noise to their advantage, shifting pre-snap on numerous occasions to confuse the North Carolina offensive line.
“Wake Forest is a really well-coached team, and the linebackers are actually able to make calls and move the defensive line right before the snap count,” center Scott Lenahan said. “In turn, that drew the offensive line off… It’s something that we knew they were going to do, and they did it. We were prepared for it, it’s just that I guess we weren’t able to really execute it.”
The Tar Heels were unable to move the ball effectively against the Deacons, gaining 313 yards of offense with only one red zone appearance on the day. T.J. Yates performed well in stretches (26 of 33 passing for 236 yards and one touchdown) but his second interception ended any thoughts on a UNC comeback when linebacker Aaron Curry returned the errant pass 77 yards to put Wake Forest on top 37-10 in the first quarter.
Davis indicated earlier this week that his program had focused on eliminating the bad plays responsible for the Tar Heels’ 2-5 start during the bye week, but those problems continued into their eighth contest of the season.
During his postgame press conference, Davis indicated that his squad had committed 10 negative plays in the first half (five penalties, five loss of yardage plays), providing plenty of explanation for the Deacons’ 17-3 halftime lead. Giving up non-offensive touchdowns and losing the turnover battle 3-0 is a recipe for disaster against a Jim Grobe-coached team.
“We talked about it all week long with our football team – they are not going to give you anything,” Davis said. “Anything you want, you are going to have to earn it, whether its yards running, whether it’s stopping them or whether it’s creating turnovers. And today, we just didn’t do a very good job.”
Wake Forest started the game in typical Demon Deacon fashion, with Curry intercepting a Yates’ pass on the first play from scrimmage that set up a 23-yard Sam Swank field goal. On their next possession, Skinner directed his offense on a balanced 12-play, 73-yard scoring drive, capped off by Adams’ six-yard touchdown run.
Skinner continued his efficient play during his sophomore season, completing 12 of 15 passes for 133 yards. Cary, N.C. native Josh Adams did the bulk of damage on the ground for Grobe’s squad, gaining 82 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries.
The North Carolina defense held Skinner and his offense to 269 total yards, but another stellar performance was not enough to overcome the opportunistic play by the defending ACC champions.