The phrase “second-half team” has two slightly different meanings for North Carolina football this season.
Last year was the year of the TV Tar Heels, they of the thrilling game-winning drives and last-second finishes, not all of which were in their favor. That, of course, culminated in a 6-6 regular season in which the surprising highs canceled out the expected lows. There’s been a fair amount of drama this year, too; take as evidence a pick-two on a game-tying conversion attempt to book a 26-22 win over Boston College or three straight dropped passes to end a final drive and a furious, oh-so-close rally in last week’s loss to Florida State.
But Saturday’s commanding 48-21 win over N.C. State was a different kind of win for UNC, one that, if the trajectory of the program and its forthcoming recruiting classes are any indication, could become more and more common as the second Mack Brown tenure rolls on.
This time, Tar Heels were a second-half team in that they simply dominated the second half against the Wolfpack, rushing for 178 yards and scoring three touchdowns in a four-minute span — all courtesy of junior running back Javonte Williams — to put a bow on their most dominant stretch of football since (at least) a season-opening 31-6 win over Syracuse. No theatrics necessary.
“We never want to lose, but the loss last week gave us a little boost this week," Williams said. "We knew we had to come out and play hard the whole game.”