CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina carried plenty of momentum from a big win into a bye week. If the Tar Heels can maintain it, they’ll be able to keep talking about contending for a division title.
Heading into Saturday’s game against Wake Forest, the Tar Heels (4-1, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) have won four straight after rallying from a huge deficit to win at Georgia Tech for the first time since 1997. That’s also the last time UNC stood at 2-0 in the ACC, coming in Mack Brown’s final season before taking over at Texas.
Coach Larry Fedora said the team spent the first part of its bye week correcting mistakes and tweaking the game plan before focusing on any prep work for the Demon Deacons (3-3, 1-2).
“I’m trying to distance everything from the past and just take the mistakes and learn from them and make sure this team understands who they are,” Fedora said Monday. “It doesn’t matter that everybody made a big deal we hadn’t won in Atlanta in (18) years. So what? This team hadn’t played in Atlanta until that Saturday. So I’m really trying to get away from all those things.”
North Carolina started the year with a mistake-filled loss to South Carolina, but things have gone fairly smoothly otherwise. The defensive overhaul led by former Auburn head coach Gene Chizik has worked well enough to go from allowing 497.8 yards and 39 points per game last year to 357.2 yards and 18 points through five games.
UNC’s offense has been so efficient that the Tar Heels have punted just 12 times, second fewest in the country to No. 2 Baylor (10).
And Williams has shaken off that rough opener, leading the Tar Heels in passing, rushing and receiving yardage in the 38-31 win at Georgia Tech on Oct. 4. The Tar Heels rallied from 21-0 down in that one, earning the biggest comeback in program history.
The schedule certainly sets up to give the Tar Heels a good chance to keep momentum going toward that goal of winning the Coastal Division. Next up is a Wake Forest team that has scored one touchdown in the past two games and is coming off a 3-0 win at Boston College, while the next game comes at home against Virginia — who has lost five straight to UNC.
“We understand that we haven’t accomplished anything yet,” linebacker Jeff Schoettmer said. “Our two goals at the beginning of the year were state champs and Coastal champs. Neither one of those we’ve accomplished.”
Earlier Monday, the school announced two injuries.
Freshman defensive tackle Aaron Crawford will have season-ending surgery Thursday to repair a broken left foot suffered in practice last week. He had played in two games and the school will apply for a medical redshirt for him.
The school also said redshirt freshman tight end Caleb Samuel has ended his career due to a heart condition. He played in all five games.