Welcome to the fourth episode of "Hark the Pod," the Daily Tar Heel's new sports podcast, bringing you in-depth news and analysis about UNC sports.
In this episode, Sports Editor PJ Morales and Assistant Sports Editor Jeremiah Holloway discuss UNC football's match against Virginia Tech.
[INTRO] Carolina is kind of shutting down for long stretches. It was such a weapon coming in and will continue to be for Virginia at six-seven.
First and goal, firing for the end-zone. Overthrown incomplete. And that's it, that's the game. North Carolina will win it fifty-nine to thirty-nine.
Sports Editor PJ Morales: Hello and welcome to episode four of Hark the Pod, the official sports podcast of The Daily Tar Heel. I am PJ Morales, the sports editor of the Daily Tar Heel, alongside Jeremiah Holloway, assistant editor. How are you doing today, Jeremiah?
Assistant Sports Editor Jeremiah Holloway: I'm doing good, doing good. I'm kind of a one-man army over here. I don't have my other sparring partner Hunter Nelson. But, you know, shout out to Hunter. He did a really nice NIL kind of interview, so, we'll check that out as well.
PM: He did a great NIL piece with one of our reporters Rithvik Chelasani. Unfortunately, it's his day off. So, Jeremiah and I are going to be taking on this topic alone, and what a topic it is: some Carolina football, discussing the results from this past weekend against UVA. First off, the debut of Ty Chandler, for real this time, 20 carries, one-hundred and ninety-eight yards. What did you get from Ty Chandler this game, Jeremiah?
JH: Yeah, he definitely looked like somebody who, you know, was really... First of all, I think the offensive line was great. I think the offensive line play, you know, really played a big role, but you also have to give him credit for his individual performance. You know, I'm pretty sure just off the top of my mind, I'm pretty sure he probably outran his first two games just in one game. I mean, to have one-hundred and ninety-eight yards, you know, to push two hundred yards after having the first couple of games he had. I think that was, you know, something that really is going to help you and sees offense moving down the line. You know, if you can have a legitimate running attack and we're going to talk about Sam Howell's performance later, but definitely a much-improved version of Ty Chandler. I think that even exceeded, I understand it was one game, but that even exceeded what UNC was probably expecting to get from him. So, yeah, definitely a huge performance from Ty Chandler.
PM: Yeah, those performances didn't go unnoticed, either. Both Ty Chandler and offensive lineman Marcus McKethan earning ACC Player of the Week honors for their performances. Sam Howell, one-hundred yards rushing in back to back games after, of course, that blowout win over Georgia State. Sam Howell on the kind of designed run. And then, of course, just offensively in the backfield, unleashing, you know, five passing touchdowns like, what did you see from Sam that you hadn't seen in other weeks and kind of just the offense clicking in general? What did that kind of look like to you?
JH: Yeah, I was impressed with Sam Howard because I covered the Georgia State game and I saw that he was running all over the place in that one as well. But to come back against an ACC opponent and do essentially the same thing, and he might have actually topped his performance, you know, with the with the five touchdowns. Unfortunately, he did have the one interception late in the in the first half, but it didn't end up proving to be too costly because they were able to, you know, kind of come back and then take over, you know, after that.
But yeah, I didn't think in his first two seasons, he was a great runner with the ball. I didn't realize, you know how much speed he really had at first. I didn't really think even that was his problem. I think he just wasn't really, you know, when he got in those situations when you could kind of take-off and bolt, I didn't really think he did it enough, but it was an awareness thing. And so, I think when you really got to see him, you know, understanding defenses a little bit better and really take-off, I mean, he didn't just, you know, have a couple of good runs here and there. He had a hundred plus yards in back to back games. And then if you couple that with the five touchdowns that he just threw, you know, the sky's really the sky's limit for this UNC team. And I was a little bit concerned how they would, you know, perform with and we keep talking about it all the weapons they lost last year. But he's really coming into his own and he's really, you know, been the best player in the offense, which he needs to be, and he's really taken over.
PM: Yeah, with that 59-39 final score line, you know, people were talking, you know, Brandon Armstrong was off to one of the hottest starts in the ACC for Virginia. People knew this was going to be an offensive slugfest. But does this give you shades of UNC last year? You know, a team that's going to put up a lot of points, but that's also going to have some defensive woes. Some missed tackles, some trouble in the backfield.
JH: Yeah, there are. And there are for a couple of reasons. The first reason is I thought, you know, the Georgia State game, okay, they have fifty-nine points. It was a low-key opponent, non-conference opponent. Of course, they should win. But to come out and do that against the ACC team, let me know, okay, this is an offense that's real. This is an offense that you know is going to have chances to be explosive this season. Obviously, we can't ignore the first game, but the fact that just two weeks later they were able to put up fifty-nine against a conference opponent was very impressive. So of course, their offensive team in that regard.
And then the other part of that, you know, the struggles on defense, they do have playmakers on that side of the ball. But I don't think that as a cohesive unit, they really make enough stops. I think even in this pass game against Virginia, there were times when they missed too many tackles. Brandon Armstrong had five-hundred passing yards. Like, that's not easily, you know, it definitely wasn't a situation where, OK, you know, they kind of got a few at the end because remember, they ended up taking the lead going into halftime. So those were a lot of those yards were real. They weren't just garbage time stats. There were a lot of those were real stats. So, you know, they're going to have to definitely buckle down on that side of the ball because a lot of the games you give up thirty-nine points, you're not coming out on top. You know, fifty-nine points, three weeks in a row would be even more improbable than the two weeks in a row that they've just had. So, they’re definitely going to have to pay attention to that.
PM: Yeah, obviously UNC having a breakthrough offensive performance, but the defense still kind of waiting for its breakthrough moment to shine. Any one big take away from you for this game if you really just kind of thinking about it with a greater lens? Any one big thing that sticks out?
JH: Well, one big thing that sticks out to me is that UNC’s offense may be more dynamic than I expected. I thought it was going to be a more passing heavy offense. I wasn't necessarily sure outside of Josh Downs who was going to step up, but after the second game they played, okay, maybe Antoine is an option or, you know, maybe they have some other guys that can kind of make some plays. But I didn't expect Ty Chandler to push two-hundred yards and then also make some good plays, you know, in the receiving game out of the backfield. So, whenever they play a, you know, a ranked opponent, you know, someone that, you know, is pretty much on their level, that's going to be a really good gauge to see how good this team is or can be. But I think that what we've seen so far in these past two games is definitely something to look out for and be like, okay, this offense has layers.
PM: Yeah. And when I think about it, when you know you mentioned the offense having layers, I think when you get a back who can be as dangerous as Ty Chandler is in moments, and you get defensive lines focused on him, you get linebackers focused on stopping him and, you know, clogging up the lane. Then I think that creates space for someone like Caleb Hood, who can kind of shock people with, you know, a little bit more power, who can shock people with, you know, maybe a cut outside or like we were doing last year, you know, like UNC was doing last year with a lot of passes out of the backfield, you know, slant routes out the back. So, we'll see how that works.
PM: Well, that's all the time we have for this week. Thank you so much for listening to Hark the Pod, the official sports podcast of The Daily Tar Heel. PJ Morales, sports editor, and Jeremiah Holloway, assistant sports editor, alongside Leo Culp, the audio editor. Have a wonderful day!
This episode was produced by Levi Pitts. Supervising producers were Audio Editor Leo Culp, Multimedia Managing Editor Alex Berenfeld and Editor-in-Chief Praveena Somasundaram.
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