On Saturday, the North Carolina Tar Heels fell to the Louisville Cardinals to start the 2017 season 0-2. UNC competed well, but in the end Lamar Jackson was too much for Larry Fedora’s team. The 2016 Heisman winner had a field day, throwing for 393 yards and rushing for 132 more. Jackson was responsible for all six of the Cardinals touchdowns, three passing and three rushing. Here are three things learned from the week two defeat
The Quarterback controversy is now even more of a controversy
Going into Saturday’s contest, it seemed that redshirt freshman Chazz Surratt was the clear best option at QB for the Tar Heels after a strong showing week one against California. However, head coach Larry Fedora insisted that both Surratt and LSU graduate transfer Brandon Harris would again split snaps. Surratt got the start, but Harris played the entire second half. Fedora did say that Surratt was not 100% at half time, which likely factored into this.
The two signal callers were just about even Saturday, with Surratt going 12/14 for 168 yards and two scores, and Harris going 17/23 and tossing a TD. Both quarterbacks made some great plays and showed they have the poise necessary to lead the offense.
Fedora has an even tougher decision on his hands now. I personally believe Surratt is the way to go. The redshirt freshman has much better upside, mobility, and accuracy. He has the potential to be the long term answer at the position for Carolina. While in Harris’ case, 2017 is his only year of eligibility and there is a limit to what he can bring to the program.
The defense is not good enough to carry this team
When defensive doordinator Gene Chizik announced he was stepping away from football to spend more time with his family this past winter, most saw it as a significant but recoverable loss for Carolina. So far, only the significant part has held true. UNC’s defense was expected to be the strength of the team going into this season. Through two games, it is clear that is not the case. Yes, the Heels were faced with the task of stopping a Heisman winner, but they didn’t just fail to stop him, they let him have one of the best performances of his career.
Up front, Carolina struggles to generate pressure. The linebackers are great run stoppers, but they have trouble in pass coverage. The secondary has shown promise, but has also had inexcusable breakdowns that have allowed some huge plays.
The good news is, the Tar Heels have been better offensively than most expected, scoring 65 points combined in their first two games.
However, UNC will have to be better on the defensive side of the ball if they want to turn their season around.
UNC has some real playmakers on offense
Going into the 2017 season, the offense was expected to be Carolina’s weakness. While the unit has certainly experienced growing pains, it has also shown in flashes that it can be great. Through two games this season, Carolina has amassed 841 total yards of offense. Against Cal, running backs Michael Carter and Jordan Brown stood out. Versus the Cardinals, wide receivers Austin Prohel and Thomas Jackson, along with tight end Brandon Fritts carried the load. Even during a season where the defense was expected to be the better unit, Larry Fedora’s explosive offense is still doing most of the work.
For all your collegiate and professional apparel needs, check out 365 Gameday.