CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Digging a 21-0 hole is not a preferred method that Gene Chizik would ever endorse. His defense’s response in fueling North Carolina’s 38-31 come-from-behind victory at Georgia Tech last weekend, however, provided a learned experience that added another layer of confidence.
UNC’s first-year defensive coordinator speculated on Wednesday that less than two percent of the programs across the country could rally from the type of road deficit that UNC encountered in Atlanta.
"It's not always just that you win that is the bottom line, but a lot of times during seasons it's how you win," Chizik said. “I told them in the team defensive meeting that I’m prouder of them after coming back from 21-0. I don’t prefer to do that very often, right? But I’m prouder of them being able to accomplish that than if we started from the beginning and just dominated the game the whole way.”
The Yellow Jackets rushed for 209 yards and three touchdowns on 36 carries in their first three possessions. Chizik told reporters that the early defensive issues were a combination of Georgia Tech making plays than UNC and his defenders being out of position at times.
Instead of making wholesale changes at halftime, Chizik and his staff isolated two different plays that were hurting the Tar Heels and made the appropriate adjustments.
“We’ve talked about this since Day One,” Chizik said. “Focus through the chaotic moments because there’s going to be plenty of them and let’s get back to fixing problems. Let’s not get all discombobulated mentally. Let’s zero in on the problems and fix the problems. That’s not just Georgia Tech, that’s everybody.”
UNC’s defense was prone to collapses in 2014. That hasn’t been the case this season, even when down three scores on the road.
“If you’re ever going to tank it, it’s going to be when you’re down 21-0,” Chizik said. “And they did not do that. They were not even close to that look or that body demeanor, none of that.”
UNC held Georgia Tech to 41 rushing yards after halftime.
For the rest of the interview, watch the above video.