Monday, October 18, 2010

Carolina's 4-2 record is remarkable under the circumstances

North Carolina started this season 0-2 on the field and a heavy underdog to the NCAA investigators, but you have to give credit to Butch Davis, his staff and players for the way they have turned around this season.

First of all, the Tar Heels have played with fire and emotion in every game. They lost to LSU when Zack Pianalto couldn't hold an endzone pass because he was fouled, but Pianalto had the grace to refuse to blame the officials. Looking back, that was a remarkable effort by UNC, which went on television facing national humilation but nearly rallied to beat a team that is now undefeated and ranked No. 7 in the BCS.

Carolina really should have beaten Georgia Tech after that, but an inexperienced secondary let it down. That left the Tar Heels 0-2, with the future of many of its best players uncertain.

Four straight wins have followed, all of them impressive. The Heels won at Rutgers, beat East Carolina and Clemson at home and then crushed Virginia on the road for the first time since 1981. There are a number of reasons for the record. T.J. Yates has had a steady hand, Johnny White is sixth in the ACC in rushing at 77.3 yards per game, the offenisve line is improved with a true freshman at left tackle, the receivers have grown up and the depth on defense has minimized the exceptional losses there.

The stretch ahead is brutal, except for a home game with William & Mary Oct. 30. But regardless of how this plays out, Carolina has righted itself, at least on the field, despite tough circumstances.

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