North Carolina will be the second college football program to wear uniforms under the Jordan Brand this season, joining Michigan in wearing the Jumpman logo on their uniforms this fall. The new uniforms will be revealed at a later time, but the UNC football program had reason to be excited today. The team was given a free pair of Retro 11s. Needless to say, they were ecstatic.
The video itself has become pretty much the norm for uniform reveal videos we have seen over the years. Designed to go viral and advertise the enthusiasm for the particular brand behind the jersey, or in this case the sneaker, the sights of big guys hooping and hollering and dancing around the meeting room still never gets old. Does it?
But UNC needs to pace themselves with this type of video effort. If the players got this excited for the shoes, imagine the excitement that will be captured in video form once the team gets their first look at the brand new football uniforms coming their way at some point later in the offseason.
It looked as though No. 17 North Carolina (10-1, 7-0 ACC) was well on its way to wrapping up the ACC Coastal Division in Blacksburg, but sometimes winning in Lane Stadium against the Virginia Tech Hokies (5-6, 4-3 ACC) is never as easy as it seems. The Tar Heels gave up two late fourth quarter touchdowns to the Hokies and would need to win it in overtime. Ryan Switzer caught an 18-yard touchdown from Marquise Williams on UNC’s possession of overtime to capture the win and the ACC Coastal Division championship.
Down 24-10 with just under five minutes to play, Virginia Tech quickly moved down the field after starting at their 37-yard line. Michael Brewer‘s 25-yard pass to Sam Rogers got the Hokies in UNC territory and a 26-yard pass to Isaiah Ford two plays later took them to the 11. Bucky Hodges would haul in an eight-yard pass on a fourth down from the eight-yard line for a touchdown to cut the UNC lead to one. UNC fumbled away the football on the ensuing drive, and Brewer again found Ford for a big play a few plays later. A short touchdown pass to Ford tied the game at 24-24 with 1:07 to play. The game would go to overtime, thanks in part to a bizarre timeout called by Larry Fedora on the UNC sideline.
North Carolina still has one more game to play before getting set to take on Clemson in the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte in two weeks. UNC visits North Carolina State in Raleigh next week to conclude the regular season. North Carolina can keep some outside playoff hopes alive with a win next week.
The Tar Heels have never played for the ACC Championship. Since the championship game was introduced by the ACC in 2005, only Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and Duke have represented the Coastal Division in the championship game. Virgina Tech was the last Coastal team to win the ACC when it topped Florida State in 2010. Coastal champs are 3-11 in the title game, with Clemson or Florida State winning each of the past four seasons (Florida State has won the last three).
Of course, the loss also carries a bit of an additional sour note for Virginia Tech. This was the last home game to be coached by longtime Hokies head coach Frank Beamer. Beamer announced his retirement that will be effective at the end of the season. Beamer’s Hokies now must win next week’s game against Virginia in order to keep Virginia Tech’s season going. Virginia Tech needs one more win to become bowl eligible this season. Beamer has taken Virginia Tech to the postseason every year since 1993.
As the Tar Heels get set to take on Duke in a key ACC Coastal matchup, it will do so without nickelback Brian Walker. UNC head coach Larry Fedora addressed the recent departure of Walker by suggesting Walker was looking for an opportunity to play more.
“He left on his own,” Fedora said, as quoted by The News Observer. “I think he’s interested in finding a place where maybe he can get more playing time.”
Walker was listed as a starting nickelback as recently as last Thursday’s game against Pittsburgh, although he gradually lost a hold of the starting job. Walker played in seven games for the Tar Heels, in whcih he recorded 12 tackles and broke up five passes. He has now been replaced by sophomore M.J. Stewart on the depth chart.
“It’s no different if you get an injury,” Fedora said of Walker’s departure, again via The News Observer. “You’ve got one less guy. So, we’ve dealt with a lot different things in that back end with our guys. So guys will step up and somebody else will have an opportunity to get those, I don’t know, 40 or 50 reps that (Walker) was getting.”
Despite pulling Marquise Williams in search of a spark this past weekend, UNC head coach Larry Fedora is not about to unseat his starting quarterback this week against Georgia Tech.
”I don’t want to start some type of controversy because there’s not one,” Fedora said Monday.
In a 41-14 win against Delaware over the weekend, Williams was pulled in favor of Mitch Trubisky late on the first half, and Trubisky led the offense in the second half while Williams remained on the sideline. Fedora explained he switched quarterbacks simply to ignite a spark on offense. UNC took a narrow 13-7 lead into halftime against the Blue Hens, with the lone UNC touchdown coming on an 18-yard run by Williams. Trubisky ended the game having completed 17 of his 20 attempts for 312 yards and four touchdowns. That would certainly qualify as a spark.
Williams has struggled at times this season, and the Delaware game was not the first time there were concerns about the passing game. Williams was picked off twice in the red zone against South Carolina (and once more just outside of the red zone) in a Week 1 loss in Charlotte. Despite etching his name in the school record books for a number of categories, UNC has little time to waste waiting and hoping they will get the absolute best out of Williams on a consistent basis. The ACC Coastal is still up for grabs for any team in the division, and Georgia Tech returns home looking to bounce back after two straight losses on the road. UNC will have to be ready from the start to perform, otherwise Georgia Tech could potentially grab the game by its horns early on and allow its running game to grind out a win while running as much clock as possible.
Although he had been reinstated by the North Carolina football program earlier this week, Malik Simmons will sit out the first two games of the 2015 season. North Carolina faces South Carolina of the SEC in the season opener in Charlotte, North Carolina and will host North Carolina A&T in Week 2.
“Malik’s actions did not meet the standards of the Carolina football program and he will serve a significant penalty as a result,” UNC head coach Larry Fedora said in a released statement Friday afternoon. “I’m confident he will learn from it and we can put these issues in the past.”
Simmons was suspended by the Tar Heels earlier in the summer following his second arrest of the offseason. He was released on a $1,000 bond after resisting arrest. His first arrest stemmed from a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge. He missed his court appointment earlier this week, showing up to football practice instead after being reinstated by Fedora.