UNC-Clemson: The Good & Bad

North Carolina's 42-12 loss at home to Clemson on Saturday wasn't a complete carbon copy of recent bashings, but it was close enough, as the Tar Heels continued their trend of setting dubious records.

Here is a look at UNC's eighth defeat in ten games, sixth in as many Atlantic Coast Conference battles, and fifth straight overall.

GOOD

9-0 lead – The Tar Heels started the last four demoralizing games in strong fashion, albeit briefly, and Saturday was no different. They led 9-0 after a safety, an impressive kickoff return, and an 18-yard scoring pass from C.J. Stephens to Bobby Blizzard. The Heels proved again they start out focused and ready to play. The problem is they collapse once the opposition has some success.

C.J. Stephens – Stephens completed 15 of 28 passes, of which most were fairly short tosses, for 150 yards. But it's not that too many balls were either dropped or were way off the mark, it was how hard he played. He had some tough runs that designed offensive plays. In fact, Stephens ran for 47 yards, but lost 38 because he was sacked six times. He had an impressive 11-yard run to give UNC a first down and routinely knocked heads with Clemson defenders, and although he was slow to get up a few times, the maligned junior hung in there. He's not Darian Durant, and he's also not responsible for the team's collapse.

Dan Orner – For the fifth time this season Orner booted a field goal of at least 49 yards.

Sam Aiken – Aiken caught eight passes to set the school's single-season record with 58 and counting. Aiken's effort and attitude are one of the few bright spots over the last month.

Dexter Reid – No Tar Heel brings his "A" game as often as Reid, who is one of the best safeties in the nation. The sensational junior was in on 14 tackles on Saturday and still leads the ACC.

Fans – The fans have regularly been criticized in this space but when props are due, props must be delivered. Quite frankly, it's pretty amazing that 42,000 people showed up considering not just how poorly the Heels have played over the last month, but because the team has shown zero progress. If nothing else, it proves there is a healthy contingent of serious football fans that root for UNC.

BAD

Home field disadvantage – For the first time since 1952 - a year before the ACC began play - Carolina finished a season winless at home. At 0-6 Among the Pines, this ranks as the worst home season in UNC history. The Heels were outscored at home 235-91. The Heels only played well for parts of the Texas and Georgia Tech games and the first half against N.C. State. Otherwise, they had very little success in any aspect.

Points allowed – UNC has been outscored 169-25 in the last 14 quarters.

2nd half horrors – In the second half of the last four games Carolina has been outscored 110-9.

100-yard rushers – Once again someone ran for 100-plus yards against Carolina's defense. But instead of just one runner, Clemson had two go over the century mark. Bernard Rambert had 114 yards on 19 carries and freshman Tye Hill ran for 105 yards on just 14 carries. Hill is the fourth freshman to run for 100 yards against the Tar Heels this season. UNC has allowed a 100-yard rusher in each of its eight losses but not in either victory.

Ground attack – Carolina managed to gain 137 yards on the ground Saturday, but also had 65 yards in losses, meaning the Heels totaled just 72 yards on the ground. And, 29 of UNC's yards came on a fake punt run by Jacque Lewis. Thus, only 33 yards came conventionally on the ground.

Pass defense efficiency – Clemson QB Charlie Whitehurst threw for 274 yards on just 12 completions. He had TD tosses of 83 and 58 yards, the former a Kenan Stadium record.

Quick scores – Clemson had two scoring drives of less than a minute. Combined with the four that Maryland had last week, that makes six such drives in the last two games. Regardless of the defensive scheme the Heels are in, it appears the opposition can either score quickly through the air or by using up chunks of the clock on the ground.

Punting game – This has been a trouble spot for the Tar Heels all season. An eight-yard punt gave Clemson excellent field position in the second quarter, and allowed them to quickly take the lead at 14-9. For the game, UNC punters Paul Roberts and John Lafferty averaged 33.3 yard for each of their combined six punts.

UP NEXT

The Tar Heels travel to Tallahassee for what will be a revenge game for the Seminoles. Carolina routed FSU 41-9 last year. Game time is set for 3:30 and will be televised by ABC.


Senior writer Andrew Jones is in his seventh year with Inside Carolina. He hosts a late afternoon radio show on ESPN Radio, WMFD AM630 in Wilmington and can be reached via e-mail at: AndrewJones@AM630.net.

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