Against Rutgers, North Carolina fumbled the ball five times, losing possession twice.
Quarterback Bryn Renner, who threw one interception against James Madison, added three more picks to his career stat line against the Scarlet Knights.
Watching his team win the game despite committing so many errors proved to Withers his team must have been doing something right.
“I think the percentage is below 10 percent to win a game that you turn the ball over five times,” Withers said. “So if you win those kinds of games, obviously you take a positive approach about it. That’s what we did.”
Withers praised his defense — which ranks third in the nation in defending the rush — for keeping the Scarlet Knights off the board despite the offensive mistakes.
The offensive line, too, has excelled so far this season, and the Tar Heels are one of just five teams that have played two games and haven’t allowed a sack.
Renner has an 87.5 percent completion rate after his first two games as a starting quarterback, but his four interceptions comprise a stat on which he can’t help but dwell.
“Here and there I made some good decisions, and those three bad decisions I made were costly to the team,” Renner said.
“I can’t put the team in that situation with making those types of decisions. The No. 1 job of the quarterback, we talk about it every week, is protecting the football.”
On Sunday, that’s exactly what the Tar Heels worked on.
Renner said the team spent 30 minutes of practice focusing solely on holding on to the football.
The team participated in drills, Renner said, during which players would stand in stretch lines and coaches would come by and try to swipe the ball out of their hands.
“Every time somebody has a football, we’re going to try and knock it out,” Renner said with a laugh. “We might even start taking them to class.”
North Carolina hopes the extra practice will help it win its first conference opener since 2000, as the Tar Heels will face Virginia this weekend at Kenan Stadium.
And when game day arrives, Renner said the Tar Heels are determined not to drop the ball.
Contact the Sports Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.