An Offensive Performance

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Butch Davis and his players didn't have an answer following Saturday's 24-7 loss to Georgia Tech as to why the offense played as poorly as it did. But after a Sunday full of film review, the Tar Heels were still unable to pinpoint the reasons for the dismal performance in their ACC opener.

During his weekly press conference, Davis highlighted various reasons that UNC was held to 154 yards of total offense and just seven points.

"We wish we would have been able to complete more passes."

"We weren't as effective on some of the play-action passes."

"We had a couple of drops."

"We didn't block as well as we needed to in this particular game."

Add in Shaun Draughn's admission that he missed several reads from his tailback spot, and you will find that every position group – quarterback, running back, wide receiver and offensive line – was saddled with a portion of the blame.

Davis pointed to his team's 1-of-11 third-down conversion rate as being a "major issue," and also touched on four straight three-and-outs and a fumble on the next possession to emphasize the pitiable start.

"We started to get a little bit of momentum," Davis said. "We started to make a couple of first downs and then we had the snap over the quarterback's head. It seemed like every time that we tried to get a little bit of a grasp and tried to get ourselves rooted and tried to get something going from a rhythm standpoint offensively, we kind of shot ourselves in the foot. We didn't play very well."

Offensive units have bad outings – that's the nature of football. But the plethora of mistakes that occurred in Atlanta is alarming. Missed blocks, unfinished routes, poor blocking and inaccurate throws left the Tar Heel players grasping at straws while trying to explain the performance on Saturday.

"We weren't on the field long enough to get anything going, and when we were on the field, we just didn't execute the things that we needed to," said Draughn, referencing the 42:07 to 17:54 time of possession discrepancy. "… I don't know. A few guys made a few mental errors and I didn't make some of the right reads. Just as a whole offense, we didn't execute as well as we needed to."

"I thought we were focused going into the game," said quarterback T.J. Yates, who completed 11-of-26 passes for 137 yards, two interceptions and a touchdown. "I thought we were well-prepared going into the week. We had a good week of practice. But there was definitely something that wasn't clicking on Saturday. We didn't start off well, and that's one of the things that we wanted to do was to start off well in the game. Once that happened, it kind of dog-piled on top of [us]… We've got to do a better job of coming out quick and finding a rhythm early."

Slow starts have been a consistent theme during offensive coordinator John Shoop's tenure. In the 17 games since the beginning of the 2008 season, North Carolina is averaging just 20.9 yards on its opening drives, scoring three touchdowns and a field goal while coughing up two turnovers that resulted in two touchdowns for its opponents.

In its two road games this season, the Tar Heels have only managed 52 rushing yards on 56 attempts. But while the rushing statistics between the Connecticut (35 yards on 38 carries) and Georgia Tech (17 yards on 18 carries) games were eerily similar, Draughn indicated that the offensive line played better against the Yellow Jackets than it did against the Huskies and East Carolina.

When asked if that meant the running backs weren't hitting the right holes, Draughn's response was this: "When you put eight and nine guys in the box, you can't block everybody… Sometimes it might have been the running backs, sometimes it might have been the O-line."

When the wide receivers drop seven passes in the season opener against The Citadel or when the offensive line gives up six sacks and countless quarterback hurries to Connecticut, it's easy to pinpoint the origination of the problem. But this was a situation where all four position groups were at fault and players admitted to mental lapses.

It's worth noting that North Carolina currently sits at 106th nationally in total offense (307.5 yards per game) after playing just one defense ranked in the top-50. The Tar Heels ranked 92nd (321.4 ypg) in '08 and 105th (325.3 ypg) in '07.

But perhaps the bigger issue has been North Carolina's inability to sign an adequate quantity of offensive line recruits (only three OL signees from Davis' first two recruiting classes are on the current roster) or to sign an elite-level running back to consistently move the chains.

Whatever the problem may be, this coaching staff must address those concerns immediately, because while Virginia will enter Kenan Stadium with an 0-3 record on Saturday, the Hoos' 3-4 defense is capable of providing even bigger challenges than what Shoop and Co. encountered against Georgia Tech.

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