Simply put, the pass defense was downright awful for much of the day. North Carolina WRs were running wide open down the field and T.J. Yates found them enough times to hurt the Noles. UNC opened the game with a big play in the passing game and that was certainly a sign of things to come in this one.
Needless to say there is plenty to work on on the defensive side of the ball after this one. Film review should be interesting.
Kendall Smith missed much of the game after sustaining an early injury, Vincent Williams played most of the day in his place. Williams had his moments, but also showed his inexperience by not reading his keys quick enough. That is what happens when inexperienced players are forced to step up. Credit should be given to the UNC staff for trying to expose the weakness.
It was not ALL bad, the big German flashed his potential and Christian Jones continues to get more run. Brandon Jenkins had two sacks; Nigel Bradham, Markus White, and Mister Alexander each added one. Bradham led the team with 10 tackles.
Let's not mistake UNC for an "explosive" team offensively......they certainly are not. Where do we go from here? Tough, tough call. Effort is not a problem, the defense is simply making too many mistakes. We are being exposed for the lack of experienced depth on the defense, it was noticeable when senior Smith went out. This is the low point of the year on the defensive side of the ball (OU is at least a legit offense).
Christian Ponder: 24-34, 264 yards, 3/0
Ponder was taking some heat, but the numbers show the type of game he really had. When you factor in that there were 3-4 drops(again), he did enough to win the game. He would probably like 2-3 throws back, but that is true every game. The offensive line gave him plenty of time to throw the ball(the WRs were not getting separation). He had a very nice scrambles that kept drives alive. Last week the loss was on him, that was not the case today.
Chris Thompson: 9-49
Jermaine Thomas: 8-34
Lonnie Pryor: 4-16, 2 TD
Frankly I am surprised the numbers are that good running the ball, it did not feel like it watching it the game. FSU never seemed to get the running game going today and we clearly missed Ty Jones hard running style. Anyone who asks: what does James Wilder do for us? This game should answer your question. Teams need a horse who can run the ball inside and get YARDS AFTER CONTACT. Having speed is great, but we need that "horse". Devonta Freeman and Eric Beverly also bring more of an inside running attack to the table. Bottom line, disappointing day running the ball.
Willie Haulstead: 10-154, 1 TD
Taiwan Easterling: 6-33, 1 TD
Bert Reed: 4-30
Rodney Smith: 2-33
The best news of the day was Haulstead's big day. He has shown signs of becoming the "man", but this was really the first game where he has established himself as that guy. It was even better considering his big drop last week(which could have hurt his confidence). He has made a believer out of me.
Reed and Easterling continue to be a bit of an enigma. Reed is dropping too many balls....sure they were not perfect throws, but you have to help your QB out. He is not doing that right now. He did make a great play on a deep ball, but caught it just out of bounds......another instance where a few feet make all the difference. Easterling is simply solid.
Smith always his moments, but he is not as consistent as Haulstead right now and that is holding him back. Plenty of time for him, but we clearly need him right now. Kenny Shaw played today, but did not catch a ball. I would not be surprised to see him much more down the stretch.
Just like last week, the game was right there to be won, but we simply did not get it done. Two field goal misses by Dustin Hopkins essentially lost the game. It is what it is. There is an old saying "don't leave it up your field goal kicker"......and unfortunately nothing epitomizes FSU football liked missed field goals.
It is very hard to know where we go from here, Clemson is up next and it is a "must win". I think the title says it all today, "grasping defeat from the jaws of victory". Two weeks in a row.