After opening their season with a 31-6 win over Syracuse, the Tar Heel football team was deep into preparation for a week two matchup against Charlotte when head coach Mack Brown dropped the news that their game had been cancelled after several members of the 49ers offensive line were placed into quarantine following the University’s COVID-19 contact tracing protocols.
“Guys were excited,” Brown said during a Zoom conference Tuesday. “We actually had a great Thursday practice and were preparing for the game really well. I was told during practice that Charlotte was not going to come and I waited until practice was over, because we still needed to finish a good practice and have good game preparation that week, before I told the players. They actually thought I was kidding at first, because I can be a smart aleck.”
Rick Steinbacher, UNC Senior Associate Athletics Director, worked the phones looking to find an opponent the team could play this coming weekend, a prescheduled open date, but was unsuccessful.
It’s 2020. The abnormal is normal, the unexpected is expected and flexibility is required. Having to manage two consecutive weeks off in the middle of the season is something Brown has never had to do in his over 40 years of coaching, so he’s just decided to hit clt+alt+del and prepare for their October 3rd matchup against Boston College as if it is their first.
“What we’ve told our players and coaches is – let’s just start the season over. Syracuse was a game. It’s done. So, we’re two weeks out from the opener. Let’s just go back and restart. That’s what we’re trying to get their mentality to be.”
Having to abruptly reset your preparation and mindset isn’t an easy task, but Tar Heel quarterback Sam Howell, says the team is mature enough to handle it.
“It’s definitely not what we expected, but I would say we have a pretty mature team and everyone is in a good place mentally. We know this season that any game can be taken away from us at any time. We’re really just challenging ourselves to stay sharp every single day and try to be consistent whether we have a game that week or not.”
Barring any changes, Boston College will have played two weeks of consecutive game-football, while UNC has been getting only practice reps – a disparity the Heels hope wont affect them. Instead, they’re using the extra practice time to focus on perfecting the little things.
“We definitely try to go back to the little things and try to find all the little kinks in our offense and perfect things that aren’t,” Howell added.
UNC is scheduled to travel to Boston to take on the Eagles October 3rd.