A quick look at UNC football’s 2-0 record may instill confidence heading into this Saturday’s Georgia State matchup in Atlanta, but an examination of the box score from North Carolina’s 63-61 win over Appalachian State on Saturday certainly does not.
The Tar Heels allowed six touchdowns in the final quarter against the Mountaineers, a feat neither head coach Mack Brown nor assistant head coach for the defense Gene Chizik could remember happening before.
“We could not have messed it up more,” Brown said. “We messed up everything we could possibly mess up and still won, so there are some positives.”
Gearing up for a Panthers team that led South Carolina 14-12 in the third quarter in its first game of the season, UNC will have to shape up its defense, make the easy tweaks and stop Georgia State’s run game if the Tar Heels hope to continue their new win streak on the road.
Stopping the run game
On Saturday, UNC will face a Georgia State team that ranked second in rushing in the Sun Belt Conference last season.
The Panthers are returning their top three running backs in seniors Tucker Gregg, Darren Grainger and Jamyest Williams, with the latter leading his team with 76 rushing yards against South Carolina.
After holding FAMU to an impressive 56 yards on the ground in their first game, the Tar Heels gave up 288 rushing yards to App State. For Chizik, many of the issues he saw on Saturday started in the defensive front.
“The beginning of the problem was you got guys that are running up the field and making these lanes to run in much greater than they need to be," Chizik said. "So, it’s not always just the product of a guy missing a tackle, a lot of time it’s the product of the front making it more difficult to make those tackles because we’re not doing some things right.”