Lucas: Rapid Reactions
Release: 08/30/2014

By Adam Lucas

1. In many ways, Larry Fedora probably got exactly what he wanted out of Saturday night's 56-29 season opening win over Liberty. The Tar Heels got a solid victory to start the year 1-0, but there were enough mistakes--especially in the first two-plus quarters of the game--to give him plenty to talk about with his team during film study this week.

2. If this story had been written midway through the third quarter, turnovers and mental errors would have been the overwhelming theme. Carolina picked up a key penalty for twelve men out of the field coming out of a timeout that led to a Liberty touchdown, and the Tar Heels eventually committed four turnovers.

However, a late third quarter explosion--fueled by an opportunistic defense--turned the game around and provided some breathing room for a generally energetic Labor Day crowd of 51,000. "The defense started creating all those turnovers," Larry Fedora told Jones Angell on the Tar Heel Sports Network after the game. "We have spent a lot of time emphasizing that all spring ball and fall camp. It seemed like we created more fumbles in this game than we did all of last season."

3. At least eight true freshmen played in the game. One of the most impressive was defensive lineman Tyler Powell, and he was joined among classmates by Elijah Hood (who had eight rushes for 43 yards and leveled an unfortunate Flames defender on a rush around left end), Austin Proehl, Cayson Collins, Allen Artis, Jared Cohen, Bentley Spain and Ty Tomlin. 

4. The Tar Heels made it obvious Ryan Switzer is going to be an important part of this offense in multiple ways. The sophomore caught eight passes, had a rush, and returned seven punts. The buzz that goes through Kenan Stadium when he fields a punt with a little bit of space is reminiscent of what used to happen when Brandon Tate grabbed a punt with a seam in front of him. Likewise, when a punt is unreturnable, there's a sigh of disappointment that goes through Kenan.  

5. Jack Tabb might not have had the flashy numbers of his predecessor at tight end, Eric Ebron, but credit him with a key block on the Mack Hollins touchdown catch-and-run in the third quarter:

...The quarterback comparison: Marquise Williams went 19-for-29 for 169 yards and a pair of touchdowns to go with two interceptions, and Mitch Trubisky went 10-for-16 for 66 yards and a score with one interception. Neither QB was especially sharp. "We had too many interceptions, I can tell you that," Fedora said on the THSN. "We had some wasted opportunities with some picks that shouldn't happen. Those things can't happen if we're going to be a good football team, but I was glad to get both of them to play."...Other than a botched punt snap, Carolina played well in the kicking game. The Tar Heels' average starting possession was its own 41-yard line, while Liberty averaged starting on its own 29. Nick Weiler (six of eight kickoffs went for touchbacks) and Tommy Hibbard (three punts inside the 20) are weapons. "Nick Weiler crushed the ball today," Fedora said. "He was outstanding and did a great job."

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