Oh, how the mighty have fallen. The North Carolina Tar Heels were in the ACC Championship Game just two years ago, but in 2017, it’s hard to feel confident about the Tar Heels heading into any ACC game.
North Carolina has problems on both sides of the ball, but the offensive struggles have to be particularly tough for an offensively gifted head coach Larry Fedora. On Saturday against Georgia Tech, the Tar Heels mustered up just seven points, which is a particularly pathetic number when considering North Carolina was averaging more than 44 points in its three previous matchups with Georgia Tech.
At quarterback, Fedora has settled on freshman Chazz Surratt, but he averaged just 4.7 yards per pass against the Yellow Jackets. In August, graduate transfer Brandon Harris was expected to be the starter behind center, but he has severely struggled, throwing 3 interceptions to just 1 touchdown pass this year.
On Sunday, Insider Carolina further documented the Tar Heels offensive blues and Fedora’s inability to find anything that works:
Two years of elite offensive production yielded a prosperous NFL Draft in April, although the loss of 98.6 percent of that production demanded a correction. Fedora embraced the opportunity to prove his detractors wrong this offseason, offering his carefully crafted design and its consistent ability to churn out yards and points regardless of who’s on board. He’s one of just 12 active coaches averaging 35 points or more per game in his career and his Tar Heel teams have established more than 100 school single-season and career offensive records.
A methodical fracturing of his offensive roster, beginning with the loss of starting left guard Tommy Hatton on the third day of training camp and continuing through the eventual loss of 13 offensive players – four wide receivers, four offensive linemen, three running backs and two tight ends – has compounded previous attrition concerns due to transfers (QB Caleb Henderson, RB Ty’Son Williams) and early NFL departures (QB Mitch Trubisky, RB Elijah Hood).
More games lost to injury are likely ahead, given the sling on wide receiver Devin Perry’s right arm in the second half of Saturday’s 33-7 loss at Georgia Tech, as well as linebacker-turned-tailback Johnathan Sutton’s apparent shoulder injury.
Starting at 1-4, a bowl game is nearly out of the question for North Carolina. Four of the Tar Heels’ final seven opponents are ranked, so it’s going to take at least two major upsets for North Carolina to go bowling this winter.
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