Sunday Storylines: What's Old Is New
•How many times? Carolina had the ball with slightly more than two minutes to play, down one with the chance to win. They came up short. Since the beginning of the 2007 season, the Tar Heels have lost 30 games. Twenty of those games have been lost by seven points or fewer.It seems so familiar recently: Carolina with the ball with the chance to tie or win. There have been the great moments when they've converted those chances (at Florida State, at Virginia Tech, Tennessee). But there have far too often been the missed opportunities.
Saturday, Carolina had two timeouts and 87 yards to go to try to win. A.J. Blue moved the ball four yards on first down, but two incompletions on second and third, then an interception doomed the visitors. One would think that these Tar Heels, now running no-huddle for the entire game, would be more comfortable in the two-minute offense than they showed Saturday. Maybe one is a little too optimistic for a team in its second game in the new system.
•Larry Fedora's injury policy - that of not reporting injuries unless a player is out for the season - is great, when everyone's healthy. But when players aren't 100 percent, things get a little tricky. Last weekend, Giovani Bernard left the game against Elon in the first half with knee soreness and did not return. Carolina didn't need him in the second half.
"I feel good. I feel great, you know, it was just a little precautionary kind of thing. I feel good. I'm ready to go for this week. Wake Forest (is a) new opponent, Elon's game is past me now and we're looking to Wake Forest now."
Bernard said that he had been eager to get back on the field, but "Coach knows best." He was then asked what had happened on the play where he got hurt. "I don't want to talk about that kind of stuff, but I feel good. I feel I'm ready to go."
Gio didn't go. Bernard ran onto the field in shorts and a t-shirt for early warmups, and in fact was in uniform and pads for the game, but he did not play. "He went out before the pregame and we wanted to work him out and see how he felt and it just didn't feel right for him and so at that point we decided that there was no reason we were going to, you know we weren't going to take a chance there," Fedora said after the game. "He felt like he was close. He thought he was going to be able to go going into it and when he got out there, he just didn't feel right. That's when I made the decision."
And now, Bryn Renner. The junior quarterback took a nasty shot while running toward the end zone in the second quarter. He attempted to get to his feet, but fell to the turf and pointed to his head. Marquise Williams played the next snap at quarterback, but Renner returned on the following offensive series. He lost two yards on first down, threw an incomplete pass on second, and was sacked and fumbled on third. Renner just didn't look right on that series. He appeared more comfortable as the game went on, but never appeared to reach the level he was playing at prior to the hit. He was 10-13 passing before the injury and 13-26 with an interception afterward.
After the game, Fedora said he'd made the ultimate call to return Renner to the game, a decision that he'd revisit. Renner indicated that he'd fallen on the ball and hurt his rib cage on the play - not his head. He said he had not been given any concussion tests during the game. Renner's status is one to watch this week as the Heels prepare to head to Louisville.