RALEIGH, N.C. — Following UNC football’s 39-20 loss to N.C. State in its final game of the regular season, there was one phrase that Drake Maye repeated over and over in the postgame press conference in slightly different variations: “It starts with me.”
To be fair, the offensive meltdown that the Tar Heels — who led the ACC in total offense entering Saturday — displayed against the Wolfpack did start with the sophomore quarterback.
North Carolina only managed to make it 1 yard up the field on the first drive of the game. It didn't get better from there.
Maye appeared completely out of sorts throughout the first quarter, not making a single completion in just three attempts. Despite a slight improvement in the second half, he still only managed 254 total passing yards — his fourth-worst performance of the season — catapulting the team to its fourth loss of the season in what might have been his final game as a Tar Heel.
“I’ve got to do a better job, I’m the ultimate decision maker,” Maye said. “Ball's in my hand, touches my hands every play, so at times when I felt like we didn’t answer, it just falls back on me.”
Throughout the game, it seemed like Maye was unable to find any answers, repeatedly throwing the ball away and failing to connect with his typical targets. The entire offense appeared lost without their captain steering the ship.
Typical top-receiver junior Tez Walker notched just 29 yards on an 18 percent completion rate in his worst performance of the season. Sophomore running back Omarion Hampton, who entered the game tied for first place nationally in total rushing yards, was only was able to put up 28 on the night, breaking his streak of six consecutive 100-yard performances.
“We got so far behind we couldn't run it,” saidhead coach Mack Brown. “He didn't touch it much tonight.”
At the end of the opening 30 minutes, UNC had less than half of N.C. State's total yardage.