Emotions among Tar Heel faithful ran the gamut Saturday night when the Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech game ended with the Yellow Jackets stunning the Hokies in Blacksburg by a convincing 30-20 margin.
Did it bum you out because the knife of Thursday’s loss to Duke got twisted a little deeper, knowing that 28-27 loss now kept the Tar Heels from sole possession of first place in the ACC Coastal Division with one game left to play?
Or did it elevate your spirits, knowing that the Hokies and Tar Heels are back to being tied with two ACC losses, the Heels having N.C. State left and the Hokies to face Virginia the Saturday after Thanksgiving?
Tar Heel coach Larry Fedora was asked how his players responded to that news Sunday when they reported for meetings and practice following Thursday’s bitter one-point loss at Duke.
“I have no idea,” Fedora answered. “All we talked about was The Citadel. All we can control is being 1-0 this week.”
The Tar Heels and Bulldogs square off at 3:30 p.m. Saturday in Kenan Stadium, the Tar Heels 7-3 after their Thursday night, prime-time debacle at Duke and the Bulldogs 10-0 after running through the Southern Conference to the league title.
“We’re anxious to get back on the field and play this week, especially knowing what we left out there,” Fedora said Monday. “But that game is behind us, and we have to move on and learn from it.
The Citadel routinely plays a game against FBS opponents. Last year, the Bulldogs ventured into Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia and knocked off the Gamecocks, 23-22. The last time they played in Chapel Hill was in 2009, the Tar Heels cruising to a 40-6 win.
“They’re an undefeated team, they run the ball very effectively and, when they do throw it, they hurt you with it,” Fedora said of The Citadel’s option attack. “They will eat the clock and limit the possessions you get, so we have to be very efficient. Defensively, we have to steal a couple of possessions.”
Beyond winning beating The Citadel to go 8-3 and regaining some momentum going into the N.C. State game (12 noon kick the Friday after Thanksgiving), Fedora is hoping his senior class can post a 9-3 regular-season mark and finish with a bowl victory. A 10-3 season following last year’s 11-3 campaign would mark only the second time in Carolina history a team posted back-to-back 10-win seasons (1980-81 and 1996-97 the others).
“This class can still do special things,” he said. “They have the opportunity to do something that’s happened only two times in 126 years at this school. That would be one heck of an accomplishment. It was a pretty bleak picture when we got here and those guys signed on. But they bought in and believed in what we were selling. A lot of them have made that vision of playing for championships come true.”