The Daily Tar Heel

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Wednesday August 17th

UNC’s running game was essentially absent in Saturday 34-17 loss to Virginia Tech

<p>Marquise Williams looks for a receiver down the field during Saturday's 34-17 loss against Virginia Tech.</p>
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Marquise Williams looks for a receiver down the field during Saturday's 34-17 loss against Virginia Tech.

He pulled the card out of a flap, slid it back in.

Out, in.

“We shot ourselves in the foot a lot,” said the soft-spoken freshman running back after North Carolina’s 34-17 loss to Virginia Tech on Saturday at Kenan Stadium. “That just kind of limited what we could do offensively.”

Out, in.

“It starts with everybody,” Hood said. “We all have to be sound, get the count. Just have solid fundamentals and then do your job. Everybody’s got to play their part. Whenever we get a false start or something like that, it hurts the drive.”

Out, in.

The Tar Heels (2-3, 0-2 ACC) were plagued by offensive inelegance (10 penalties) once again, but here is something perhaps more troubling: running backs Hood, T.J. Logan and Romar Morris combined for 15 yards on nine carries. Quarterback Marquise Williams? 94 on 19.

There was Williams, 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, scurrying for 23 yards through the core of the Hokies’ defense on UNC’s second drive. There he was again, late in the fourth quarter on third-and-2, cutting right for 22 yards on the drive that would pull the Tar Heels within 10 points and provide them some semblance of hope before Ryan Switzer’s muffed punt sealed their third straight double-digit loss.

Among the trio of tailbacks, the longest run was five yards. Hood, who had three carries for four yards and a one-yard touchdown, explained.

“It’s pretty tough when you don’t get a lot of carries to get a good rhythm,” he said. “That was just part of, again, our fundamentals. We were giving ourselves a lot of long field to get first downs. When it happens, it just makes it hard for our running backs to run the ball.”

And there are other reasons for the disparity between the running backs and Williams.

Like the Hokies’ defensive schemes.

“We expected them to run some bear defense against us, and they did in some situations,” Coach Larry Fedora said after the game. “We knew that would take some of the running game away.”

Or giving up seven points within 44 seconds.

“We didn’t really get a chance to run as many of our run plays as we had,” right guard Landon Turner said, “because we didn’t start fast enough this week.”

Or just Williams himself.

“His plays work. He gets a lot of wide open runs,” Hood said. “He’s a strong, physical runner. He’s also a threat to pass the ball, so the defense is maybe (like), ‘It’s just a fake!’ and then they’re hesitant and he can get a quick step on them.”

Out, in.

Hood was still fiddling with the card when this question was asked: How much of the difference was because of Virginia Tech, and how much was because of North Carolina?

“I really don’t know.”


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