Brownlow: Go Figure
Considering how successful Carolina has been offensively throughout most of its games this year, it seems a bit nit-picky to look at bad first quarters. Well, bad by North Carolina standards. The Carolina defense has been up and down in the first quarter - as it has most of the last few games - but the offense has consistently struggled in the first quarter, particularly early.
Carolina has scored just once on its first drive of the game, and that was against Idaho. Carolina has had to punt on every other first drive of the game so far this year. The Tar Heels have put up a total of 70 points in the first quarter. But if you take out the 28 scored against Idaho, Carolina has not scored more than 14 points in any first quarter this season.
Sometimes, it just takes the Carolina offense time to wear down the opposition. It’s also a matter of the Tar Heels adjusting to the game offensively as well. But no one would call the Tar Heel offense crisp early in most of its games this year.
Perhaps the biggest issue has been penalties. The offense leads all three units with 22 accepted penalties. Of those, nine have come in the first quarter. In the last four games, the Carolina offense has committed 18 penalties and nine have come in the first quarter. The Carolina offense committed a total of four offensive penalties in its first two games combined.
Against Virginia Tech, Carolina was forced to punt on its first three drives, marking the first time Carolina didn’t score on one of its first three drives all year long. A big reason for that was the three penalties committed in the first quarter on offense (two false starts and an illegal block).
At Louisville, Carolina was whistled for two first-quarter penalties that stymied their drives against a good defense on the road. But the Tar Heels had a host of other issues in just their second road game of the year, including botched snaps and dropped passes. Carolina has to be much crisper on the road - particularly early - this time.
Again, it’s a nit-picky observation, but it’s one that could come into play when Carolina travels to Miami Gardens this weekend to face an explosive Miami offense. The game sets up to be a shootout, and Carolina will have to match the Hurricanes score for score as much as possible.