Then again, the Scarlet Knights (0-2) have forced zero turnovers on defense through the first two regular season games, both home losses. This statistic remains mind-boggling considering the veteran secondary and experienced linebackers and defensive linemen.
Jason McCourty, who was burned twice by Fresno St. for long bombs, failed his difficult yet crucial assignment again. UNC (2-0) wideout Brandon Tate zipped past the senior cornerback for a career-long 69-yard touchdown reception, en route to a 44-12 treatment in front of 42,502 fans, many of whom departed by the third quarter.
"Obviously it's an understatement to say a tough night for us," head Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano said. "But we will be back."
Other Courtney Greene and Manny Abreu's pass deflections and a lone sack by defensive end Jamaal Westerman, the defense remained hapless and lacked leadership on the field.
"Well, we gave up big plays again on defense," Schiano said, "so that certainly is a repeated error."
Tverdov echoed his coach's thoughts.
"It hurts a lot," tackle Pete Tverdov, a senior, said afterwards. "I kind of feel like it's embarrassing really to have another team come in our house and beat our butt like that on national television."
Rutgers' previous two nationally-televised Thursday night appearances ended much differently. With the perennial ‘W.'
Not this time around.
"It hurts," McCourty said. "It's really hard to assess it right now to go into the whys and why certain plays happened, but right now, it's senior year, we're 0-2."
Tar Heels quarterback T.J. Yates completed 14 of 22 passes for 221 yards and three touchdowns and took his time in the pocket.
Between the second and third quarters, the Knights' defense made Yates look untouchable, even invincible at times.
After Rutgers quarterback Mike Teel marched his troops down the field and scored on their opening drive, San San Te's 34-yard field goal, the Knights held UNC's high-powered offense to a punt, turnover on downs and another punt on its first three possessions.
Until Teel continued his streak of interceptions, receivers dropped catchable passes and a running game turned invisible. He finished 25-40 for 243 and three picks, one of which Bruce Carter returned 66 yards to the house.
"At the end of the day, we have to stop them and put points on the board," senior defensive end Jamaal Westerman said of the offense's struggles. "We have to chop like coach Schiano teaches us. We can't really worry about what the other team is doing, the crowd is doing, the offense is doing.
"We have to worry about what our defense is doing and what we're doing."
Tate replicated his lightning-quick speed from the season-opening win over McNeese St. in which he gained a school record 397 all-purpose yards. Although RU special teams held him in check and only allowed 58 on kick returns, he certainly compensated in other facets.
After freshman kicker Jay Wooten tied the game, Yates found wide receiver Hakeem Nicks for a 10-3 margin and Te made it 10-6 with a 32 yarder, it took one play by Tate to silence the once lively crowd, which had enough by halftime and began to exit Rutgers Stadium.
Tate impressed everyone in the stadium with his jaw-dropping double move on McCourty, from the crowded sidelines to the media room personnel.
"Nope, he did the same stuff he did on tape," Schiano said of Tate's performance, which included four catches for 138 and a 12-yard end-around score. "Double moves, two double moves, he ran double moves all of last year. It was all stuff they had done."
Nicks and Wooten rounded out Carolina's 44-point output with a TD catch and two late fourth-quarter field goals.
However, Teel certainly did not impress any scouts, who have probably ignored him after last week's two interception and no touchdown effort. By a fifth-year senior, third-year starting signal caller, no less.
"I think any time to drop back is crucial, because there are people in coverage," Schiano said. "Two of Teel's interceptions tonight were off check downs, and we just got sloppy and weren't accurate with the check downs, and that's not normally where we throw interceptions.
"But the turnover margin period, we're 0-6 right now. You're not going to win many games, especially back-to-back games, if you are 0-6."
RU Knighted by UNC; Starts 2008 Campaign 0-2
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