“I need to play better — ten times better,” he said. “Me turning the ball over is unacceptable in this offense. I’m going to take that into account this week and just try to get better. I know that turning the ball over starts with me and I just can’t have that happen.”
With 5:11 left in the first quarter, Renner threw his second career interception, and the Tar Heels began a debilitating pattern of three-straight drives that would end in turnovers.
Just more than four minutes later, Renner completed a 28-yard pass to wide receiver Dwight Jones, but Rutgers cornerback Logan Ryan stripped Jones and David Rowe scooped it up and returned it 33 yards.
“I really don’t know what happened. I never fumble,” Jones said. “Sometimes you just have to have a short memory and just forget about it and move on.”
But try as they might to suppress the sloppiness, the Tar Heels weren’t done coughing up the ball.
In the second quarter, Rutgers forced yet another fumble, snatching the ball from wide receiver Erik Highsmith after a 21-yard reception.
Renner, who completed 20 of 26 and finished with 273 yards and three interceptions, was never sacked by the Rutgers defense.
When pressured by the Scarlet Knights, Renner swiftly scrambled and tossed the ball away — but in the third quarter, the redshirt sophomore hurled it to the other team in an attempt to break a tackle.
Withers was quick to acknowledge that his team has a lot of work to do in the coming days to work on holding on to the ball, and he attributed UNC’s five turnovers partially to a lack of focus.
But despite the Tar Heels’ mistakes, the coach couldn’t help but look on the bright side.
It might not have been a pretty win. But when in a rut, North Carolina proved it knows how to come out alive.
“Anytime you can win games and you don’t play as well as you’re capable, then you have the opportunity to go back and work on things,” Withers said. “I would rather win this way than blow somebody out and not know where the problems are.
“I guess anytime you win the ball game and have five turnovers …it’s a good day to be a Tar Heel.”
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