Sunday Storylines: Adversity Conquered
It still feels good, doesn't it?
All year long, Larry Fedora has preached about adversity, how at some point his team is going to face it, and they'd have to overcome it. Well, adversity came in the second and third quarters when a 25-7 lead turned into a 35-25 deficit. But Fedora had told his team that this game was going to come to the last possession, despite what happened to lead up to it. "We really believed that, and the kids bought into that. They bought into it and they believed that we were going to win the football game. That's the reason we won the football game, because they believed that."
That belief helped the Tar Heels overcome some poor play in the middle of the game - wide open receivers on defense and missed opportunities and turnovers on offense - injury setbacks to Giovani Bernard, Jabari Price, Jonathan Cooper and Terry Shankle, and that ten-point deficit.
Carolina's win overshadows what was a terrific passing day for Mike Glennon, who threw for 467 yards and five touchdowns. Carolina switched from zone to man coverage in the second half, and that seemed to help. "The coaches said, 'Hey, can you lock these guys down? We said 'Without a problem,'" safety Tre Boston said. "Glennon was getting a little bit of time back there, and we said, 'Hey, let's lock these guys up man-to-man. You don't let your guy score, and I won't let mine score.'"
"He couldn't pick us apart, and we started having more pressure," said cornerback Terry Shankle. Glennon would have done more had his receivers not had so many dropped passes. There were four in the official play by play, but it seemed more than that. I asked Boston what play the Tar Heels were calling to result in so many Wolfpack drops. "Honestly, I don't even know," he said. "That's God's country. That's what we call it here. That's between them and God. But their dropped passes definitely helped us. You can't win with a lot of dropped passes, and we executed off of that."
Carolina owned the final period. N.C. State converted just two first downs for the entire fourth quarter, and both of those drives ended in punts.
All week long, Tar Heel players didn't let on the importance that they placed on this game. It was important, sure, but only insofar as it was the next game. Here's Bryn Renner from this week's Monday Musings:
“It’s sad to say, but I just don’t buy into all that stuff. I know it’s clichéd, and you guys are going to think I’m lying,” quarterback Bryn Renner told reporters Monday. “You’ve got to prepare for every game like it’s going to be N.C. State or whoever you guys want it to be. Whoever you guys want us to play, I’m so focused on what we have to do as an offense. That’s my main focus: how can we get the ball in the end zone for us to win games.”
Here's Bryn Renner after Saturday's game: "You've got to downplay it on Monday, but when it comes on Saturdays, you've got to get extra motivation. It was a great win for this program, and we say clichés all the time, but it’s special win for us."
Hey, whatever works.