When Campbell scored on a wheel route to tie the game at seven apiece late in the first quarter, it looked like the same old, same old for the UNC defense.
But after that, in the words of head coach Mack Brown, the Tar Heels "took a team they were better than and dominated them.”
In a 59-7 drubbing of the Fighting Camels, the Tar Heel defense reset after a dreadful performance a week prior against Georgia Tech. On Saturday, UNC allowed just one touchdown, collected five sacks and forced four turnovers.
“I think that we did everything that we were supposed to do today playing against Campbell, a little bit lesser opponent," senior linebacker Cedric Gray said. "And we handled business like we should have."
After the UNC defense hit rock bottom last Saturday against the Yellow Jackets, there was only one way to go: up.
Defensive coordinator Gene Chizik sat down with the team on Sunday and gave the Tar Heels a motivational speech. He told the team they'd get back on track and that their goals were still in front of them. As he spoke to the team, he was joined by every assistant defensive coach, something Gray said Chizik had never done after a loss before.
Despite playing Campbell, the biggest takeaways for UNC’s defense on Saturday were handling tempo, stopping the run and forcing turnovers.
According to Gray, Chizik crafted a plan with the defense before the game for whenever Campbell would run tempo, something the Tar Heels struggled with against Georgia Tech. He laid out three or four plays that the team would run in that scenario, allowing them to get to the line quicker.
The run defense was Brown’s biggest concern, though. After the Yellow Jackets rushed for 348 yards last week, Brown was blunt with Chizik: they needed to stop the run, no matter what.