CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – One of the talking points surrounding UNC all season has been whether or not sophomore running back Elijah Hood has gotten enough carries.
That narrative should die down, at least for the coming week.
Hood recorded a career-high 21 carries for 101 yards and two touchdowns in North Carolina’s 26-13 victory over Virginia.
“I think it was what the game dictated,” head coach Larry Fedora said after the win. “We came in at halftime trying to figure out what we need to do in the second half, and it was like, 'well, there’s nothing in the first half that isn’t working, so let’s just keep doing it.'”
Hood touched the ball 10 times in the first half for 47 yards, and then 11 more in the second half for 54 more yards. He scored a touchdown in each half, completing a balanced effort for the Charlotte, N.C. native throughout the entire game.
“I thought he did a great job,” Fedora said. “He ran really hard, got the ball in the end zone when we needed to.”
The only flaw in Hood’s game was the near-fumble that occurred on his second touchdown run of the game. Hood appeared to lose the ball right as he crossed the goal line, but an official review ruled the play a touchdown.
“I don’t want that ball popping out,” Fedora said of the play. “I don’t want them to have to look at it, but (Hood) assured me that it was in, so he was right.”
“Great effort by our team tonight. It was a sloppy game in a lot of different ways, especially with penalties and offensively shooting ourselves in the foot. But we did what we needed to do to win a Coastal Division game, and that was important for us. We don’t have a whole lot of time to think about it, because we’ve got to move on and get ready for Pitt.”
What’s been the key to your defense locking down in the second half?
“I think one thing is, I think our coaches do a great job at halftime. And it’s not about all the adjustment, and speeches and all that. It’s really just staying calm, and being patient with the guys, and talking through what’s really happening and letting them adjust to it. Our guys have played really well in the second half.”
How did your team overcome the penalties and turnovers?
“I can tell you, those guys, they never panic. They really don’t. They’re a pretty tight group. They feel good about themselves as far as when they say, ‘I’ve got your back,’ they mean it. It doesn’t matter what you do; it’s not conditionally. They mean it. They feel like they’re going to take care of each other.”
What does it mean to you that this team won convincingly despite several mistakes?
“I think we have a very good football team. I really do. I’ve said it before, I think that the chemistry, the leadership, the locker room, I think that’s what’s driving this football team. They’re a lot of fun to coach. They really are. Even with the mistakes, and all of those things, they’ll get it corrected. We’ll get it corrected because all of those things are correctable. It would be really bad if we couldn’t correct them. So they’re correctable, and the problem is this week you don’t have much time to do it. You can’t sit there and really teach and learn from the things you did this week, you’ve got to move on.”
Is this sloppy game a good thing for the team?
“I’m going to make it good no matter what. I mean it’s a win, so we’re going make it good. We’ll point out the problems that we had, but how we overcame them is very important. And those are the lessons. We can overcome problems because there’s going to be more problems coming in the future – there’s no doubt about it. Some of them we will create ourselves, some of them the other team we play will create it for us, and we’ll have to find a way to overcome them.”