UNC-Md: Good and Bad

IC's Andrew Jones takes a look at the "Good and Bad" from Carolina's 23-7 loss to the Maryland Terrapins. With the loss, Carolina falls to 0-2 overall and 0-1 in the ACC.

Despite the fact that the North Carolina football program is under new management and has adopted a fresh attitude and approach, Saturday's 23-7 drubbing at Maryland gave little evidence of such a change.

Here is a look at the good and the bad of UNC's second loss in as many games to open the 2001 season:

GOOD

Parker's run – Willie Parker's 77-yard touchdown run on UNC's first play from scrimmage gave many Carolina fans memories of "Tailback U." with similar jaunts on a more regular basis. Parker's dash was the longest since Curtis Johnson broke away for 90 yards against Maryland in a 59-42 Tar Heels victory in Chapel Hill in 1993. Quarterback Ronald Curry's play-action fake helped make the play work as he hid the ball and forced the Terrapins' linebackers to bite.

Julius Peppers – For the most part, Peppers played well fighting off multiple blockers on a regular basis. His three sacks were quite impressive.

Secondary – The secondary did a fine job defending the long ball. They also tackled well, especially on plays that ran wide. The Heel DB's are tackling much better this year than last.

BAD

Effort – The same thing that made last week's loss at Oklahoma palatable was missing in College Park. The Heels lacked effort in the last 22 minutes and allowed the Terrapins to take over in dominating fashion. Perhaps the players were too satisfied with their accolades after playing hard for 60 minutes against the Sooners. Perhaps the transformation into becoming a routinely physical and mentally strong program will take more time than the fans – and coaches – would like.

Conditioning – Last week the Heels appeared in excellent physical condition for the entire game but Saturday was a different story. Maryland was quicker off the ball, faster overall and more intense in the fourth quarter. If it wasn't an issue of conditioning, it was mental, a problem that will slow down any team. Whatever the reason, the Tar Heels simply appeared winded in the final quarter.

Offensive line – The young offensive line did not play well at all. They were slow off the ball allowing the Terps to bust through the line too quickly and they didn't pick up blitzes well. The line will likely improve with each game, but they are so distant from mediocrity that UNC's offense must get more creative to offset this weakness.

Play calling – Speaking of creative, the play calling was reminiscent of the previous three years. It's not just the conservatism, but the timing of some calls made little sense.

Running a toss sweep inside your own five isn't only dangerous but simply not smart, especially in a close game where scoring is at a premium. The possibility of a poor or dropped pitch that could result in a defensive touchdown is too great a risk in that situation, not to mention a safety, which is what happened.

Running more unique sets at opponents will balance the smash-mouth approach that won't work exclusively with a line like Carolina's.

Quarterback – Curry wasn't sharp again prompting one to wonder if he is as confident as a senior should be. Lately, he has not come across in interviews as someone who wants the job and will do whatever it takes to keep it. Not that he doesn't care, but perhaps Curry is burned out. Maybe this bright young man isn't enjoying sports anymore. Is it possible that being Ronald Curry for so long is taking its toll? Curry knows he will be a success in life with or without sports and maybe as a senior has resigned himself to that reality.

Red shirt freshman Darian Durant isn't the answer yet. He has plenty of room to develop but the coaches may feel he is more capable of handling the team than Curry as evidenced by their giving him a more varied selection of plays to run. Do the coaches believe Curry doesn't have it anymore and Durant is the obvious choice or was Saturday the second aberration of the season for Curry and things will return to normal in Austin this weekend?

Curry will likely start at Texas, as he should, but another poor performance means his athletic troubles go beyond not being able to physically perform and head coach John Bunting must handle it accordingly.

UP NEXT

The Tar Heels travel to Austin, Texas to take on another legendary program in the Texas Longhorns at Noon on ABC. At 0-2 the Heels badly need a victory and a win against the 'Horns would be especially sweet for UNC fans as Texas is coached by former Carolina head coach Mack Brown.

Andrew Jones is in his sixth year covering football and basketball for Inside Carolina. He also is a copy editor and staff writer for the Wilmington Star-News and hosts a nightly radio show on WAAV-AM980 in Wilmington. He has also written for ACCNews and once published The College Game and the former Total Sports. He can be reached via e-mail at: AJWAAV@aol.com.


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