Three Things: Georgia Tech 68, UNC 50
1. Allowing 68 points at home means only one thing: it's time for the inevitable "is it the coaches or the players?" conversation. The short answer: yes. Despite Butch Davis's reputation as a masterful recruiter, he appears to have left the Tar Heels woefully thin on defense. Right now, Carolina needs more of everything on defense--more speed, more tacklers, more size and more competitiveness. That can only be solved with recruiting.
At the same time, it's also the responsibility of the Carolina coaches to put the pieces they do have in the right places. Especially with two weeks to prepare, there should have been some kind of scheme available that could keep Georgia Tech under, say, 60. It was interesting to hear Larry Fedora tell Jones Angell after the game that one consequence of the loss would be, "We'll take a look at our plan and see what we need to change for next year." That seemed to be a concession that the Tar Heels didn't prepare especially well--a concession made easier by the bright lights on the scoreboard.
2. There's going to be plenty of talk about the defense, because it was bad. But Carolina probably could've survived a bad defense...if not for the disappointing special teams. The Yellow Jackets dominated that area of the game, a place where the Tar Heels had turned around several games this year. Instead, on Saturday, it was Tech that got all the big plays, including a 100-yard kickoff return that seized the second half momentum and a big stop on a fourth-and-11 fake punt deep in Carolina territory. Even with Gio Bernard, the Tar Heels mustered just two punt return yards, and the homestanding Heels managed just 24.3 yards per kickoff return.
3. Speaking of that fake punt, there are going to be those that criticize Larry Fedora for faking it inside his own 30-yard-line. The head coach did say after the game that punter Tommy Hibbard had a run/punt choice on that play, and simply made the wrong pick. "Tommy has a choice on that play," Fedora said after the game. "He made a choice we might not have liked for him to make, but I have the responsibility for giving him the choice, so that's on me." First, credit to Fedora for accepting responsibility even when he had very little to do with the actual play. That's what a head coach has to do. And second, before anyone is too harsh on Hibbard, keep in mind that he's made several key athletic plays this year, from throwing for two-point conversions to fielding bad snaps. He was probably entitled to a brief delusion of grandeur...and in the end, it only led to three Tech points, which was only a thimbleful of their scoring output on the day.