Frisby's Corner: Week Seven
Accentuate the positive: So we didn't play well in Chapel Hill. So what? We won! For too many years this program has been on the wrong side of Saturday's won/lost equation. For too many years we were the team who stated to reporters, "Oh, they didn't beat us, we beat ourselves." In one close game after another, we seemed content to turn a loss into a moral victory. No longer. This team found a way to finish Saturday, period. It didn't matter if it was a game winning field goal, a dive into the end zone, or in our case a ball batted down by the defense. The bottom line is we found a way to win.
I wish folks would get this doom and gloom attitude out of their systems once and for all. It was just one game. Newsflash - We are capable of playing bad games. The object is to not linger over it, correct mistakes, and move on. We can't dwell on history. Let's put that behind us now and prepare for another tough SEC battle this Saturday. We proved who the real CAROLINA is. Now let's continue to prove we are deserving of the #6 ranking in the country.
Now the negative: We sucked in the second half. I'm just keeping it real, folks. Let's give credit where it is due, though. Butch Davis gambled correctly and decided he would concentrate on bottling up our run game in the second half. His gamble paid off. It seems Coach Spurrier chose to play close to the vest and keep Carolina on the ground just as Coach Davis ratcheted up his run defense. This happens from time to time. One team gets out of their rhythm while another team finds their groove. You can do one of two things when this happens: hang on to your britches and stay the course (Saturday's game) or meltdown and lose composure (See 2005 Independence Bowl against Missouri.) I would like to think we learned some lessons from the latter. This is a different Carolina team. The attitudes are different and therefore the outcomes of games are different.
I must credit Coach Spurrier with practicing some restraint on Saturday. Quite frankly, I was pleasantly surprised that Coach didn't yank quarterback Chris Smelley out of the game in the second half and try to insert a new QB to shake things up. I think not taking Smelley out when things started to go sour will pay dividends as the season progresses. I'm sure Coach Spurrier is going to look at the film and ask Chris Smelley his favorite question as he rewinds the same play about ten times - "Chris, what is it you thought you saw on that play? Didn't you see that man standing there?" This critique is meant to get Smelley to think next time he encounters the same situation.
Smelley must get out of the habit of throwing to specific spots on the field. Yes, a big part of the Spurrier offense is his insistence that receivers and backs be where they're supposed to be on any given play (In their spot). However, it is a feel for the offense that must be developed and fine-tuned between QB and receiver to truly make the offense click. The offense is not there yet. They're getting close, but they still have work to do.
Cory Boyd and Mike Davis had a great first half on Saturday. North Carolina had no answer for either of them when the offensive attack was balanced. It may have been asking a little too much of them to run consistently against a stacked box in the second half. I thought Coach could have used Mike Davis a bit more in the first half, but I think he was concerned about disrupting the flow C. Boyd had going. I believe that's one thing that separates Carolina from Clemson when talking running back utilization. I don't think Clemson has quite figured out yet how to fully utilize both its backs on a given day.
At wide receiver, we saw Kenny being Kenny out there once again. That's one area were we don't have to worry about consistency. Kenny McKinley will come through in the clutch.
I still think Jared Cook may be the answer as the #2 receiver. He is already achieving it from his tight end position. Weslye Saunders gets open. He doesn't always take care of the ball, but his potential has not gone unnoticed by me.
The defense has been our saving grace this year. Once again we demonstrated a bend but don't break resiliency. Our defense may not get enough credit. This is the same defense that held a potent Kentucky offense in check. May I remind you that it was the same Kentucky offense that shredded LSU for 42 points and knocked them from their # 1 ranking. Casper Brinkley, Ladi Ajiboye, and Eric Norwood provided enough pressure to make the going uncomfortable for UNC quarterback T.J. Yates on Saturday. I've been saying all year this is the main objective of the Carolina defense - Simply take the opposing offense out of their comfort zone. We have been able to do this with some consistency this year.
Our secondary was solid. Captain Munnerlyn gave a little more cushion then usual, which resulted in quite a few more underneath passes. Maybe a little too much respect for UNC's athleticism at the receiver position. The Tar Heels picked on Addison Williams as expected, but he was pretty much able to hold his own in relief of the injured Carlos Thomas. This gives us another DB with game experience for the stretch run. Hopefully we can welcome back Carlos this week against Vandy. Brandon Isaac gave a valiant performance playing with an injured shoulder from his safety position.
Finally, the defensive MVP of the game has to go to Emanuel Cook. Once again he was all over the field. He put himself in position for two important interceptions and delivered some bone jarring hits.
The hit of the game goes to reserve linebacker Cody Wells on special teams. I heard his hit from my living room in Northeast Columbia!
Next up is a very dangerous Vanderbilt team. Believe me, there will be no looking ahead to Tennessee. We need to take care of the business at hand. The pollsters are still reluctant to give us the proper respect. I always say, "Respect must be given freely, if not it must be exacted." Let's exact our respect! GO COCKS!!!!
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