October 13, 2007

Gamecocks Hold On

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Another Missed Opportunity

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- UNC just dropped another touchdown. This time the culprit was Greg Little, on a crucial fourth down from the South Carolina 11. T.J. Yates lofted a lovely touch pass to the corner but Little was too late finding the ball over his shoulder and couldn't reel in the catch. UNC has now dropped two balls that could've been touchdowns. Inexcusable for a team looking for an upset.

Maybe Too Much

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Offensive coordinator John Shoop turned away from the Yates-to-Nicks tandem to once again reach into his bag of tricks, and this time he got burned. On the USC 25, Yates took the snap and flipped to Joe Dailey, the one time quarterback at Nebraska. Dailey promptly threw a pick to Emanuel Cook who returned it to midfield. Of course, Chris Smelley turned around and threw an interception of his own and UNC is now back in the red zone. Seemingly every play now warrants an update. Halfway through the fourth, and UNC is threatening to draw within a score.

Showing Some Guts

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- With fourth and two on their own 36, the Tar Heels showed little hesitation in going for it and keeping the pressure on the Gamecocks. Coach Butch Davis' gamble paid off, with T.J. Yates hooking up with Hakim Nicks for a 27-yard gain -- UNC's longest play from scrimmage all game. North Carolina now deep in USC territory. The Ole Ball Coach might be getting nervous.

Hold Off The Celebration

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Just when it appeared that South Carolina was going to cuirse along to a 21-3 victory, the Tar Heels showed they're going to make the Gamecocks earn it. In spite of a sprained ankle, Hakim Nicks returned to the game and made a catch on his first play back. But it was Greg Little who found the end zone in the first minute of the final quarter. On third and 10, Little caught a short pass over the middle, made one man miss and then dragged another Gamecock as he dove into the end zone. But the Tar Heels botched the snap on the PAT, so USC now leads 21-9. Three-and-out for South Carolina (including two sacks and a delay of game penalty). Student section going bonkers. Don't switch to the other USC game just yet...

Coming Out of the Half

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USC 21, UNC 3

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Just when it appeared the defenses were settling in, South Carolina drove for a touchdown to give the Gamecocks a 21-3 advantage as the game heads into halftime. Punt returner Captain Munnerlyn evaded a couple tackles and sped to the outside to break off a 38-yard return to put USC in Tar Heel territory. USC made the drive interesting, converting a fourth-and-inches by just the nose of the ball, but Chris Smelley threw his third touchdown of the half. With the Gamecock defense holding strong, it might be an insurmountable halftime lead for the seventh-ranked team.

Off the Finger Tips

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- No sooner do I say the Tar Heels let an opportunity slip through their fingers does wide receiver Brandon Tate drop a potential touchdown. Tate, whose blazing speed makes him a game-breaker mainly on special teams, split the USC secondary and was wide open, but couldn't reel in a deep bomb from T.J. Yates. The Tar Heels were forced to punt, but they kept the pressure on USC, falling on a fumble in their red zone. But the Tar Heels were unable to capitalize, first committing a holding penalty and then throwing a gift-wrapped interception to safety Darian Stewart on third down. UNC needed to come away with points to cut into the 11-point deficit, instead the Gamecocks now have the momentum.

Signs of Life from Tar Heel Defense

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Just when it looked like the Tar Heels had no answers for the Gamecock attack, the defense came though with a big stop. With USC marching into Tar Heel territory, freshman tackle Marvin Austin burst through the line, forcing Chris Smelley into an intentional grounding penalty. On the next play, defensive end E.J. Wilson jumped the screen but dropped a gimme INT that wwould've left him with nothing but open field ahead. A golden opportunity literally slips through the Tar Heels' fingers.

The Stats Lie

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Take a quick glance at the stat sheet and they wouldn't neccessarily bear out a 14-0 South Carolina advantage after one quarter. UNC holds a 7-6 advantage on first downs and also held the ball more than twice as long as the Gamecocks, possessing the ball for 10:18. The Gamecocks are by reputation a quick-starting team, but their defense might start wearing down if these early trends continue.

Record Snapped

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Senior placekicker Connor Barth just missed wide left on a 49-yard field goal attempt, ending a school-record streak of 19 straight made field goals. Barth hadn't missed since the 2005 season.

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A Sign of Things To Come?

It was an inauspicious start for North Carolina as its first two plays went for negative yards and was greeted each time with an uproar of applause. The Tar Heel defense did manage to match with a 3-and-out of its own. The home crowd responded with its own defeaning cheers, maybe galvanized to match the Gamecock supporters. There seems little doubt both crowds will make their presence felt throughout. The real question is now, when will the Tar Heels manage an offensive play for positive yards? So far they're 0 for 6.

Border Rivalry Revived

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- As North Carolina and South Carolina renew a border rivalry that had laid dormant for 16 years one of the large questions that looms is just how significant a home-field advantage the Tar Heels will hold. UNC (2-4) will need every edge possible if it hopes to spring an upset on the seventh-ranked Gamecocks (5-1) but it remains to be seen how friendly the Kenan Stadium crowd will be today.

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