According to Paul Newberry of the Associated Press,
North Carolina was aiming for an Atlantic Coast Conference title, possibly even a spot in the College Football Playoff.
Suddenly, everything fell apart.
The North Carolina Tar Heels, ranked 17th and with a record of 6-1 overall and 3-1 in the ACC, are struggling after a surprising and inexplicable 31-27 defeat at their own home field against a Virginia team with only one win. This loss shattered their strongest start in over 25 years.
While it is still possible for this to be an extraordinary season, those aspirations have been dampened as they prepare to face Georgia Tech (3-4, 2-2) on Saturday.
Coach Mack Brown stated that any loss is considered a negative outcome. He acknowledged the pressure to win every game and took full responsibility for his team’s performance. He admitted to not meeting expectations and disappointing his team, coaches, staff, administration, and fans.
Brown observed that the Tar Heels have faced difficulties in the past after achieving significant wins, but they disregarded the indications of trouble following their 41-31 win against Miami.
Brown stated that there is no hype surrounding the game, even though there were indications that it would be challenging. This lack of anticipation usually signals that there may be difficulties ahead.
Georgia Tech recently suffered a disappointing defeat at home, as they fell behind in the fourth quarter and ultimately lost 38-23 to Boston College.
According to coach Brent Key of the Yellow Jackets, it is important to focus on moving forward and not dwell on the past.
Brown is eager to witness the performance of his team going forward.
According to Brown, when faced with disappointment, one must persevere and continue working. They must take a negative situation and try to find a way to make it positive. This week is dedicated to learning from past losses and using them as lessons for improvement. For their team, last week’s loss was a valuable opportunity for growth.
In the past two games, Drake Maye’s precision has decreased, despite the addition of Devontez Walker as a key player in North Carolina’s passing strategy.
Walker has scored four touchdowns in his last two games, following a period of absence due to a lengthy discussion about his eligibility as a two-time transfer in the NCAA.
Despite having Walker as a teammate, Maye’s completion rate against Miami and Virginia was only 50.6%, with 41 out of 81 passes completed. In the surprising defeat against the Cavaliers, Maye struggled with accuracy in his throws and faced several dropped passes by his receivers. Additionally, a penalty called back a potential touchdown on a deep pass.
In the first five games, Maye successfully completed over 70% of his passes.
FOURTH QUARTER WOES
In the last quarter, Georgia Tech has been outscored 78-48, causing them to miss out on two potential wins.
Last week, Key’s team suffered a significant downfall as they allowed three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to Boston College. In the last 15 minutes of the game, the Yellow Jackets gave up 153 rushing yards, almost double the amount the Eagles had accumulated in the previous three quarters.
Key emphasized the need to improve our performance in the fourth quarter, stating that we must be in a stronger position to maintain our intensity and toughness during those crucial moments.
RUN, HEELS, RUN
Omarion Hampton has delivered impressive rushing performances for the Tar Heels this season.
During the week, Brown and his team reviewed the reasons for their failure to pass the ball to him more after halftime against the Cavaliers.
In a double-overtime victory against Appalachian State, Hampton rushed for 234 yards and scored three touchdowns. He also performed well against Miami with 197 yards and a touchdown. Despite gaining 112 yards on 19 carries against Virginia, Hampton saw limited opportunities in the second half and was not utilized as much as he had been earlier in the game.
It would not be unexpected if he assumes a greater responsibility in the game against Georgia Tech.
Brown suggested switching to a different strategy if the current one is not working.
The Yellow Jackets have not participated in a bowl game since 2018.
If they are unable to upset North Carolina, their chances of breaking their postseason dry spell would greatly decrease.
The upcoming matches for Georgia Tech will be away games against Virginia and Clemson, with the regular-season finale against top-ranked Georgia.
The North Carolina basketball team has been defeated in 10 out of their last 12 matches against the Georgia Tech team in Atlanta.
Georgia Tech has won two consecutive games against North Carolina. They defeated a ranked team 45-22 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in 2021, and caused an upset with a 21-17 victory in Chapel Hill last year.
According to Brown, Georgia Tech has consistently outperformed North Carolina. This means that people would likely predict that we will lose this game.