Three Things: Carolina 62, Elon 0
1. As it should be, the talk after a 62-0 win is going to be about the Carolina offense, which was unlike anything seen before in Kenan Stadium. We’ll get to that in point two. But quietly, the Tar Heel defense was also very impressive against Elon. Now, granted, the key part of that phrase is “against Elon.” That’s not the type of competition Carolina will face in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
But as early as his halftime interview with Lee Pace on the Tar Heel Sports Network, Larry Fedora singled out the aggressive, hard-hitting play of his defense as the part of the game that pleased him most about the first 30 minutes. Sylvester Williams was dominant in the interior of the Tar Heel line, and the Tar Heel defensive backs were ballhawkers all day. Jabari Price (one INT, one TFL, two PBU) and Pete Mangum (one TFL and tied with Price with a team-high six tackles) had notable games in the defensive backfield, and Elon was limited to 2.3 yards per play. "I told the defense, it's hard to get a shutout against air these days," Fedora said after the game.
2. There’s been plenty said about Fedora’s preference for an uptempo system, but this was the first public display—and it was jarring. Just as you figured out who had just run the ball, how many yards they had gained, and the new down and distance, the Tar Heels were already at the line of scrimmage, ready to snap the ball. According to stats kept by Rick Steinbacher in the Tar Heel Sports Network broadcast booth, Carolina snapped the ball with 16.75 seconds left on the play clock in the first half and 18.25 seconds left on the play clock in the second half.
That ability to move quickly helped in two different fourth-and-short situations. While Elon was trying to substitute and see what Carolina planned to do, the Heels simply hustled to the line, snapped the ball, and picked up the first down.
For the game, Carolina picked up 524 yards of total offense while spreading the ball to 14 different receivers, 784 all-purpose yards, and ran 74 plays. Compare that to last year, when they ran 58 plays in the opener against James Madison.
3. Credit to the duo of band director Jeff Fuchs and new media stalwart Jason Andrews for reimagining the 30 minutes between warmups and kickoff. Other than the drum corps, the band entered the field through the Tar Pit, then debuted some new songs in the usual pregame routine. Andrews put together a video packed with offseason conditioning and training camp footage set to Michael Buble’s “Feeling Good.” If you had told me Michael Buble would work on the Kenan jumbotron in the minutes before kickoff, I wouldn’t have believed it, but it set the right mood. That video led into the usual 30-second ramp-up to the Tar Heels taking the field through smoke, accompanied by fireworks from on top of the Kenan Football Center. Jump Around has been imported from the Smith Center and seemed to be a hit right before kickoff.
There are still some areas to address, but the Chapel Hill gameday experience is moving in the right direction. For example, having all the halftime stats scrolling on the video board throughout halftime was a great way to give fans in their seats a similar experience to the information-packed experience they'd have watching at home, with Twitter and other web portals providing a constant stream of stats. Expect more improvements at the next home game against ECU on Sept. 22, when UNC will debut a new amphitheater style venue in front of the stadium that will include a concert by former linebacker Chase Rice. That might provide a more grown-up pregame atmosphere to complement the more kid-centric vibe at Tar Heel Town.