RALEIGH — With about five minutes left in Saturday’s game against North Carolina State, North Carolina defensive linemen began dancing to Montell Jordan’s “This is How We Do It” as it blasted over the loud speakers at Carter-Finley Stadium.
The defense had held the Wolfpack to just one first-quarter touchdown and 13 total points, marking the third time in 10 games in which Tar Heel opponents scored only one touchdown.
But the problem with dancing to the mid-1990s hit was that, despite doing a superb job against the Wolfpack’s offense up until the appropriately titled song began playing, the Tar Heels’ own offense had not scored a point.
“When you’re dealing with 18- to 22-year-olds, you don’t know what you’re going to get sometimes,” UNC interim head coach Everett Withers said. “It bothers me an awful lot to lose any game. This is a big game in this state. This is supposed to be a rivalry and it’s supposed to eat at you.”
The 13-0 loss wasn’t a blowout like 2008’s 41-10 massacre, nor was it last year’s 29-25 loss to the Wolfpack when UNC couldn’t maintain its third-quarter lead. The defense, for all intents and purposes, did its job on Saturday while the offense lagged behind.
“As a team I don’t think we played up to our potential,” UNC linebacker Kevin Reddick said. “The defense, yeah, we might have played all right, but obviously not good enough since we gave up 13 points.”
In truth, UNC’s defense holding the opponent to just 13 points would have won every game the Tar Heels have played this season. And the defense did it all with the Wolfpack getting excellent field position.
N.C. State averaged its own 39-yard line to start its drives on Saturday. Four times the Wolfpack began with the ball in North Carolina territory and only once was it pinned within its own 20.
UNC, on the other hand, had an average starting field position of its own 22-yard line and five times it started a drive with the ball at or inside its own 10-yard line.
“Like I tell the guys, this is even better for us — in the red zone, this is where you make your money,” Reddick said. “I think we did all right. After the touchdown we settled down and in the red zone, we stopped things from happening.”
But as backup quarterback Braden Hanson said, UNC’s offense just couldn’t make any plays when it needed to. The Wolfpack, which has only the ninth-best total defense in the ACC, held UNC to just 165 total yards of offense, including three yards on the ground.
Tim Scott, a freshman member of a UNC secondary that has taken its fair share of beatings this year, reasoned that if he was told before the game the defense would give up only one touchdown, he would have taken it.
“I thought we’d be able to win giving them 13 points,” he said. “But I guess when it’s like this, we have to hold them to zero.”
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