Saturday, September 18, 2010

A season of what ifs becomes a game of what ifs for UNC

Fans will wonder for a long time what would have happened if the UNC football team were at full strength.

The what ifs extended into the loss at home to Georgia Tech.

For instance:

What if Carolina had beaten LSU, would they have come into the game with a different attitude?

What if Georgia Tech had won last week instead of being upset by an inferior Kansas team, would the Jackets have come into the game with a different attitude?

What if Carolina had thrown the ball on third and three from the four at the beginning of the game?

What if Carolina had gone for it on fourth and less than two at the end of the same drive instead of settling for a field goal after such a long drive?

With Georgia Tech going for it on fourth and inches trailing 17-14 in the second quarter, what if the officials had flagged GT guard Omoregie Uzzi for moving prior to the snap (as he did)?

For that matter, what if the officials had flagged Uzzi, who moved on almost every down, even one time for motion?

What if Carolina had stuck more to the ground game to continue to control the clock (instead of eventually losing the time of possession category)?

What if, on third and four and leading 24-17 in the third quarter, a rushed UNC quarterback T.J. Yates had committed to running earlier rather than scrambling behind the line? (Video shows that once the initial rush came, he had room to possibly get the first down but instead kept rolling out until pursuit came and got it as he finally tried to run for the first down.)

What if Quan Sturdivant had not been called for roughing the passer on the ensuring GT drive? Replays indicate that while Nesbitt was running out of bounds, he was still partly in bounds when Sturdivant made contact.

What if Georgia Tech had punted from the UNC 46 instead of going for it on fourth and two? Even though the Jackets failed to get the first down, Carolina came out and promptly botched a handoff.

For that matter, on that next play, what if Yates and fullback (and converted linebacker) Josh Bridges hadn't collided in the backfield as Yates was trying to hand off to the tailback? There are actually a lot of what ifs there but certainly there wouldn't have been a fumble that was recovered by Georgia Tech. The Jackets went in to score the tying points at 24-17 shortly thereafter.

What if any one of Tar Heels could have gotten to Nesbitt before he dumped a pass off to Ronnie Jones for a first down on third and 11 that kept the game-tying drive alive?

On Georgia Tech scoring play, what if Uzzi had been called for starting early (which he did)? That would have negated the touchdown and the Jackets would have been backed up to almost the seven yard line. Perhaps the Jackets would have gotten a field goal instead of a touchdown and Carolina would have been calling plays to get into field goal position on its last drive rather than having to get a touchdown to win.

What if Pianalto had been able to hang onto the ball on a pass play that would have gone for a first down in the fourth quarter with the Heels trailing 27-24? For that matter, what if offials had ruled that the ball was incomplete instead of fumbled because he hadn't tucked the ball in yet?

What if Carolina didn't have to begin their final drive inside its own 10 yard line because of a late block by special teams player Steven Hatley?

What if Yates had seen the GT defensive end's big paw before attempting the short pass on third down that was batted at the line of scrimmage?

What if Yates could have escaped the shoestring trip up for an eight-yard loss on the final drive? Replays show that he had a wide open receiver right in line of sight had he not fallen.

What if the Heels had struck to passing in the last two minutes instead of trying a time-consuming and ineffective end around?

What if Yates had not been injured on a second and long scramble run and the never-used back up quarterback Bryn Renner had to come in a for a play to try a pass on third and 10 yards to go?

What if, on fourth down, Yates had thrown it anywhere past 10 yards rather than dumping it to tailback Johnny White five yards short of a first down? For that matter, what if any of the three receivers had looked back to see Yates in trouble rather than running longer patterns than needed? It seems the Heels were going for more than a first down with the deep routes.

Certainly most teams that lose a close game can play the what-if game. But, in light of the big what ifs for the Carolina program this year, it seems appropriate to outline the Heels' what ifs against Georgia Tech.


  1. What if Carolina had not cheated for the last 30 years, and in particular, over the last year?

  2. What if TA McClendon had scored that TD at Carolina several years ago?

    What if the official that overruled the TD was actually able to see if TA's knee was down or not (he was in the back of the end zone -- a mass of humanity was between his eyes and TA's knee).

  3. Basically, you can play the what if game all day long. The difference in many football games is often a single play, series, bad or missed call, or a dropped pass that would have been a sure touchdown.

    There's no point in playing the what-if game. Because the same what-ifs that could have won these games for Carolina could have also been used AGAINST Carolina in other games.

    And are there any what-ifs that could have helped GT and LSU? Like, what if LSU had not relaxed on their 20 point lead in the second half? What if they had not fumbled after gaining enough yards for a first down? What if that happened and Carolina never even got the CHANCE to go for the win?

  4. There are what ifs in every game, that's for sure. The point of this not only was the large number of what ifs within the game, but the fact that the entire season is a season of what ifs - therefore highlighting the "what if game."

    Specifically to the LSU game what ifs. I don't believe LSU relaxed on their 20-point lead in the second half. As for the fumble, that was a forced fumble by the defense, not a unforced muffed handoff.