Three Things: Carolina 66, Idaho 0
1. OK, sure, it was Idaho, and the Vandals may be the worst team in the Football Bowl Subdivision. But Carolina has played 1,219 games in its football history, some of which were against teams even worse than Idaho. And the Tar Heels had never scored 66 points in a game—until Saturday. The remarkable thing was that it could have been much, much worse if Larry Fedora hadn’t taken his foot off the gas in the second half. Some amazing marks: it’s the first time in program history Carolina has scored more than 60 points twice in the same season. The 128 points the Tar Heels rolled up against Elon and Idaho alone are more than UNC scored in seven entire SEASONS of play since the Atlantic Coast Conference began competition in 1953. The 216 points scored by Fedora’s team so far this season—in five games—is more than the Tar Heels scored in two full seasons since Mack Brown left (Carolina scored 186 points in 1999 and 198 in 2005). The most points scored in a season by a Carolina team is 421 by the 1993 squad, which is a mark to keep an eye on.
2. Giovani Bernard may be the most exciting offensive player to wear a Carolina uniform in my lifetime. I would previously have given that title—meaning every time he touched it, you felt like a touchdown was imminent—to Brandon Tate. But Bernard’s blend of speed and power is something unique, and he’s been utilized in a variety of ways by Fedora and offensive coordinator Blake Anderson. Against Idaho, he only touched the ball ten times—two carries, four catches and four punt returns—and still managed to score two touchdowns and amass 150 yards of total offense. “I want to establish myself as a player who can score on one touch,” Bernard told Jones Angell after the game. He’s on his way.
Now, here’s a question for you, and granted, he’s been hurt: Bernard has carried the ball 29 times in the three games he’s played this year. Is he getting it enough? Next weekend’s game against Virginia Tech should be a true test of the ideal workload the Tar Heel coaching staff has in mind for him.
By the way, if you’re a Carolina football fan, you’re accustomed to hearing the offensive line be built up in the preseason, only to watch it sometimes turn porous at inopportune times. But could this group finally be the unit that turns line play into a Tar Heel strength? Carolina entered the game tied for 15th in the country in fewest sacks allowed, and they gave up zero to the Vandals.
3. Carolina football fans take a lot of criticism. But those who turned out in Saturday’s miserable weather deserve a round of applause. The poor opponent combined with a downpour made for ridiculous conditions. Did tens of thousands stick it out? No. But those who did should be commended. Carolina did a solid job of observing Military Appreciation Day, from the between-quarter recognition of certain individuals to the videos of members of the service that played during timeouts to the flags of the armed services that flew from the top of the Kenan Football Center. It's a shame that there weren't more people there to see it, but it's totally unrealistic to expect a bigger crowd based on all the factors involved.