Larry Fedora’s first five games at the helm of the North Carolina Tar Heels have been rather eventful. UNC is 3-2 heading into their Saturday matchup with Virginia Tech. Their three wins have been dominant, but their two losses have been anything but. The Heels still don’t seem to have an identity and they are a completely different team from week to week and sometimes from half to half.
In the season opener UNC dominated Elon 62-0 and just last week they beat Idaho 66-0. However this is the exact same team that lost to Wake Forest 28-27 and Louisville 39-34. The Louisville game was the perfect example of how truly inconsistent the Tar Heels are. The Cardinals led UNC 36-7 at halftime and the then Tar Heels mounted a furious comeback with 27 points in the second half (20 in the 4th quarter) but came up just short.
So is UNC the good team or the bad one? What is their identity?
As of now it is impossible to tell. Fedora’s up-tempo offense can clearly work in Chapel Hill, but its inconsistency leaves much to be desired. The good news for Carolina is that they have two of the ACC’s top playmakers on offense in quarterback Bryn Renner and running back Giovani Bernard, plus their defense is ranked as one of the best in the ACC in most categories.
An explosive offense and a solid defense should be the makings of a good team right? It is a perfectly reasonable assumption, but this inconsistency is a real problem. However, it won’t cost them a chance at the division or even a chance at a bowl because NCAA sanctions have already stripped the Tar Heels of their chances for both.
The 2012 season was never about anything tangible, like a conference championship, but it was rather meant to be a glimpse into the future. Fedora’s first year was supposed to be a preview of things to come, but observers still have no idea what the future holds for the new Tar Heels.
This weekend’s matchup with Virginia Tech should clear up the picture a bit. Fedora and UNC are attempting to aspire to be where the Hokies are, the class of the division and conference at large. Despite the fact that the Hokies have underachieved this season, they are not to be overlooked or trifled with and the Tar Heels should know that. Since joining the ACC in 2004, Virginia Tech has won seven of the eight contests between these two teams.
If North Carolina is indeed able to beat the Hokies this weekend then the program will have a win to hang its hat on and build upon. This game may finally be the one in which UNC is able to establish its true identity.