Posted on Leave a comment

Takeaways from Week 1; Tar Heels Overcome Mountaineers As Teams Share 124 Points In A Thriller

College football is back in full force, it is just week 1 and we already have an early contender for game of the year. Entering today, Appalachian State was the favorite against the Tar Heels who came into Boone with an already battered roster. Wide Receiver Josh Downs was seen on the sideline before the game in street clothes, making it clear that he would not be suiting up today. Fans would soon learn that would not be enough to slow down this North Carolina offense as they then went on to score 63 points, but this is just the tip of the iceberg for what happened today in Boone. 

Embed from Getty Images

Early on it was clear as day that this North Carolina defense was left behind in Chapel Hill. Falling to a quick 21-7 deficit, it seemed as if Appalachian State came prepared. That lead would be short lived as the Tar Heels would then go on to put up 34 points unanswered and it seemed like that would be all she wrote for today. Not quite, the Mountaineers would begin to bring themselves back into and would end up scoring a whopping 40 points in the fourth quarter alone. It seemed as if they had UNC right where they wanted them as they decided to go for two against a pitiful defense. It would go as a failed attempt which would put the game at 56-55 in favor of the Tar Heels. Then what happens next is potentially the most boneheaded moment of the whole game in which Bryson Nesbit returns the onside kick for six, leaving time on the clock and leaving the door open for the ‘Neers to tie it back up. Chase Brice would then lead another quick drive in under thirty seconds and put them in a position to tie up the game once more and potentially send it to overtime. Another failed two point attempt to call game in Boone, but not after what would be a wild sequence of events. 

So what is there to learn from what felt like a game that may last an eternity?

After endless scoring and many moments that would leave you questioning everything you thought you knew about the sport. For starters, this North Carolina team has a lot of questions on the defensive side of the ball. Gene Chizik, who had coached under Brown in Texas, might be having some growing pains to get reacclimated to the coaching position. Chizik who hasn’t coached since 2016 has been given the task to turn around an abysmal North Carolina defense, and so far it is proving to not be an easy one. Allowing 61 points to a non Power-5 team is just not a great feat and should be a concern for North Carolina fans everywhere. Another take away that should be concerning for this defensive unit is the fact that they did not have a stop on third down until after the halfway point in the second quarter. That secondary has some major questions as well, which is a huge let down since that is a position the North Carolina has really hit the hardest with many talented names at the position. Though their lead cornerback Tony Grimes did not take the field today after dealing with an injury that he had suffered early in their first game against Florida A&M. Let’s hit on some bright spots though, for both sides.

Drake Maye showed out in his second start for North Carolina, showing off his ability to stand in the pocket and make some tough throws. Throughout the game he stood in a collapsing pocket and made some excellent throws, while also showing off his mobility and scoring his first rushing touchdown of his career. To celebrate he found former UNC quarterback Sam Howell, who dealt with a similar situation as Drake Maye all last season having no defense and no offensive line to help.

Maye finished the day with 352 passing yards with a 70% completion percentage and 5 total TDs.

Now onto Appalachian State, who might have lost the game but are the real winners for today. A name who deserves some love is running back Nate Noel who punched in not one, but two touchdowns on the ground today and showed out for 116 yards on 14 carries. He easily was the best running back out there today and made a big-time play early on when he took a run up the middle and broke free for a 52 yard touchdown giving Appalachian State an early 7-0 lead. 

Finally, all eyes were on Drake Maye, the redshirt freshman who transferred from Alabama not too long ago and has seemed to take the ACC by storm. Let’s not forget to tip the cap to Chase Brice, who had a game full of ups and downs, but at the end of the day tore up this Tar Heel secondary. The Mountaineers quarterback threw for 363 yards, 6 TDs, and finished the day with a 69% completion percentage. The quarterback also had 35 yards on the ground, but came up short on the scramble to tie the game in the final seconds. At the end of the day it was an excellent quarterback battle that took place in Boone and will be one that fans can’t help but look back and smile about later on into the year. College football is back and boy does it feel good. 

Posted on Leave a comment

2022 CFB: Drake Maye Teases Potential in Debut – Jake Tweedie

Embed from Getty Images

Last month we took a dive into the ACC Quarterbacks of 2022, detailing their attributes and projecting how they would get on. At the time of writing it appeared that UNC were torn between Jacolby Criswell and Drake Maye, they both played bit part roles last year behind Sam Howell, and there were plenty of questions around who would lead the Tar Heels into the 2022 regular season.

The build-up to last weekend’s game saw Drake Maye named as starting quarterback. It was just six days before the Week 0 clash with Florida A&M. UNC were billed as 44-point favorites leading up to the game, and despite a sluggish show on defense, Maye showcased what he had to offer by leading them to a 56-24 victory.

Who is Drake Maye?

Maye left Myers Park High School as a four-star prospect after being named MaxPreps North Carolina Player of the Year, initially committing to Alabama. However, he later decommitted from the Crimson Tide and pledged himself to the University of North Carolina. His decision was likely based on Bryce Young’s presence, with Maye seeing his chances of playing time limited by the dominant five-star signal caller. It’s also worth noting that playing in Chapel Hill meant that Maye could play in front of his friends and family in his native Carolina.

Although the move to UNC was initially difficult, given the presence of Sam Howell, Maye now has every chance of being the long term starting quarterback for the Tar Heels. Especially if his debut is the sign of things to come.

Impressive Debut

Maye’s debut for the Tar Heels has made waves in the national media. He was ranked number one in Athlon Sports’ list of the best debuts for quarterbacks in week 0, earning high marks for such a composed and commanding performance.

The debut was also record breaking, Maye’s five touchdowns in his debut game set a new UNC programme best as he finished an impressive 29 of 37 passes complete, 294 yards and no INTs. However, his play also allowed a running game that picked up 314 yards as the A&M defense threw everything at the passing game.

He targeted ten different receivers, albeit relying a bit more on Josh Downs, hitting the wide receiver nine times for 78 yards and two touchdowns, but overall he worked the field without hitting any big downfield passes. His longest reception was for 33 yards, but it was an assured performance which will have excited the Tar Heels’ fans.

Not to be limited to just the pass, Maye also showed some positivity on the ground. He picked up 55 yards from four carries, including a nice 42-yard run in the first quarter that would have settled the nerves. 

Performance Report

For a player that stands at 6’5, 220 pounds, Maye’s footwork in the open field was mesmerising from the off, pushing him all the way to the FAMU 19 yard line, where he then found Kamari Morales in the end zone to make a 19 yard completion and the opening touchdown.

He looked nimble on his feet, and shifted his body weight with ease and composure. This enabled him to avoid a few tackles, as he used his body to pick up an extra three or four yards after first impact down the sideline. It was just an early indication of what he can do with the ball when options are limited down the field, and he looked assured throughout his run. 

From a throwing perspective, the opening touchdown was exactly what the UNC faithful wanted to see. Maye had a defender running at him, threw it slightly off balance over two defenders to find Morales in the end zone. He used all his height to loop it over the defenders but he did so quickly and effectively.

The first two scores of the game saw him manage the pocket beautifully, showing off nice composure and finding the open receiver for the second touchdown. However, his third touchdown was more impressive. He was pressed and forced out of the pocket around the 10-yard line, went left and found the open receiver in the end zone. Another demonstration of how he can adjust to what is going on but also showcase what he can do with his feet.

Opposition defenses will surely already be worried, as Maye showed that anything around the 20-30 yard line could easily wind up with a receiver catching the ball in the end zone. Three times from an open pocket he waited for the opportune moment and released the pass beautifully into the hands of his receiver. 

Overall Perception

There’s no doubt that Maye had a highly productive day at quarterback for UNC. He looked assured within the pocket, but he also showed what he can do with his feet when pressured into moving outside of it. His three touchdown passes to the end zone were perfect, timing the pass beautifully with the runs of the receivers whilst also showing composure when pressed into making something happen away from the designed play.

It was the perfect debut for the redshirt freshman, and there is little doubt he will show the same ability in the next couple of games before a tough run of games from week four onwards.

With Notre Dame, Miami (FL), Pittsburgh and Wake Forest all to come before the end of the season, it will be very interesting to see how he adapts to stronger opponents, but from what we saw in Week 0, Drake Maye is one to watch for 2022.

By Jake Tweedie – @AccukAnalysis1