After watching UNC and USC in person Thursday night in Charlotte, I am still shaking my head at how the Tar Heels managed to lose that game, 17-13.
Steve Spurrier was doing the same thing in his postgame press conference. Having not yet seen the final statistics, he wondered aloud how many total yards UNC had on offense.
“What did they have? Anybody know?” Spurrier asked.
Told the Tar Heels easily outgained USC and had 440 total yards, the Head Ball Coach gave a weary smile. “Four hundred forty and 13 points? See, that just doesn’t go together,” the coach said.
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No, it doesn’t. And while UNC quarterback Marquise Williams should get the lion’s share of the blame for three red-zone interceptions, coach Larry Fedora had a terrible brain cramp in the fourth quarter.
With the Tar Heels inside the 10 in the final five minutes, Fedora kept running back Elijah Hood (138 yards, 12 carries) on the bench for three straight plays and then only used him as a decoy on the fourth (when Williams threw his final interception). Instead, the coach kept asking Williams to make a play on a night Hood could not be stopped. That’s called outsmarting yourself.
▪ FITZGERALD FIASCO: The Hood situation reminded me of another football game in Charlotte. In 2003, Virginia played Pittsburgh in the Continental Tire Bowl. Pittsburgh had a receiver who was basically unguardable -- Larry Fitzgerald, who would later go on to a great NFL career in Arizona and had scored at least one touchdown in 18 straight games.
So for much of the game, Pittsburgh used Fitzgerald as a decoy. He didn’t score, and Virginia won, 23-16.
▪ LOWER THOSE PRICES: More evidence that the UNC-USC football prices were just too darned expensive: The crowd of 51,664 was less than not one but two soccer games also played at Bank of America Stadium this summer.
The Gold Cup doubleheader July 15 that featured both Mexico and Cuba drew 55,823 to Cam Newton’s stomping grounds. An exhibition game later in July between two of Europe’s best teams drew 61,224. Not coincidentally, both games featured lower prices.
Two soccer games in July at Bank of America Stadium sold more tickets than the UNC-USC college football opener – one by about 4,000, one by about 10,000. Not coincidentally, both soccer games featured far lower prices.
▪ NORMAN’S INJURY: I still can’t believe Josh Norman was anywhere near the field in Pittsburgh Thursday night no matter how mild or severe his injury turns out to be. You just don’t risk any of your top 10 players in the final NFL exhibition, no matter the circumstances.
▪ BRADY WINS: Tom Brady beat the NFL and won’t be suspended? Unsurprising, but I was sorry to see it.
▪ CHADWICK MAKES NATIONAL TEAM: USA Swimming recently announced its 107-member national team for 2015-16 and two things jumped out at me.
First, out of more than 50 swim clubs represented, SwimMAC Carolina was No. 1 in America with 11 swimmers on the squad.
Secondly, Michael Chadwick – the only one of those 11 SwimMAC stars to actually grow up in Charlotte – made the squad. Chadwick, now an All-American swimmer for Missouri and the son of Charlotte pastor David Chadwick, is a late bloomer who was modestly recruited.
Chadwick made the national squad in both the 50- and 100-meter freestyle – you have to be among the top six in the event to earn a sport on the national team. This selection served as far evidence that he will have a real shot at qualifying for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil. That team will be constructed in the summer of 2016 at the Olympic Trials in Omaha.