CLEMSON, S.C. — "Big O" hadn't fumbled all season.
Well, that was until Saturday.
After a fumble less than three minutes into the game, sophomore running back Omarion Hampton appeared poised to put UNC up 14-0 on a breakaway rush down the field. Then— out of seemingly nowhere — Clemson defensive back Nate Wiggins tracked him down and punched the football out of Hampton's arms at the Clemson 1-yard line.
UNC head coach Mack Brown didn't hide his surprise after the game.
"I don't know, he's been great with the ball," Brown said. "That's why my hair is gray."
Hampton's two early turnovers and Drake Maye's inefficiency — the sophomore quarterback recorded a season-low 44.4 percent completion rate — headlined an uncharacteristically poor offensive outing in No. 22 UNC's 31-20 defeat at Clemson. Against the Tigers, a North Carolina team that entered Saturday ranked No. 3 nationally in total offense looked completely lost.
"We were up and down defensively, but we were more inconsistent on offense," Brown said. "Our offense usually runs up and down the field. Tonight, we didn't."
On Saturday, Brown's typical praises of consistency for Maye and Co. — along the lines of "the offense is the offense" — turned into harsher words.
Brown called the Tar Heels' 4-for-14 conversion rate on third downs "unacceptable." He cited Clemson's dominance of possession (the Tigers ran 89 plays to UNC's 69) as "too many plays" for the Tigers. At halftime, Brown told the Tar Heels they should've been up 21-0.