It looks as if North Carolina is ahead of schedule in at least one category going into the second game of the season.
“We’re having those serious discussions,” Tar Heels coach Mack Brown said of the fallout of the season opener. “Some teams might not have to have those until the middle of the season.”
No. 24 North Carolina (0-1) will take on Georgia State (0-1) on Saturday night in Chapel Hill, N.C., trying to recover from a loss that cost the Tar Heels a Top 10 national ranking.
Last week’s 17-10 stumble at Virginia Tech was filled with offensive shortcomings. Most notable were those on offense, with preseason second-team All-American Sam Howell throwing three interceptions. Still, UNC’s only touchdown came on Howell’s pass to Josh Downs, giving the QB a school-record 69 career touchdown throws.
Yet it was a startling outcome for a team receiving so much attention entering the season.
“You’ve got to lose some because we learn to lose in life,” Brown said. “And when you do, you’ve got to overcome that and step back up and not let one loss beat you twice. Winning is very, very important, and I sure don’t take that for granted.”
Georgia State, which was 6-4 last season, lost 43-10 to Army in its opener.
“They’re disappointed like we’re disappointed,” Brown said of the Panthers.
So both teams need of major adjustments.
“We certainly know how to fix it,” Georgia State coach Shawn Elliott said. “Our players understand what it’s going to take to change that mindset heading into next week.”
North Carolina ran into trouble against Virginia Tech because of some rough patches on the offensive line. That might not bode well against Georgia State.
“The defensive line is the strength of their defense,” Brown said. “(With our offense), we had too many tackles for loss, too many bad plays on first down, which put us in third-and-long.”
North Carolina’s receivers will get some attention in practice this week.
“We had two or three balls that we didn’t catch that we had a chance to catch that were deep,” Brown said. “We didn’t make the contested catches outside. … I thought all of us were frustrated offensively because we’ve moved the ball so easily through the last two years.”
North Carolina has won nine of its past 10 home openers. This figures to be different in many ways.
“It will be the first time that we have a full house in two years,” Brown said, noting the importance of the crowd providing a boost to the team. “Pick them up and help them move forward.”
Georgia State is 0-8 all-time vs. FBS-ranked teams.
North Carolina running back Ty Chandler, a transfer from Tennessee, was on the Volunteers squad when Georgia State upset them in the 2019 opener – the Panthers’ only victory against a team from a Power 5 conference. Chandler had a game-high 66 rushing yards last week in his Tar Heels debut.
There’s a sibling component to Saturday’s matchup. North Carolina defensive lineman Jahlil Taylor is a younger brother of Georgia State linebacker Jhi’Shawn Taylor. Plus, backup linebacker Kyle Wright of Georgia State played four games for the Tar Heels in 2018.
–Field Level Media