CHAPEL HILL, N.C. –– Wherever Drake and this offense goes, impact plays will always follow.
On Saturday, North Carolina steamrolled through the Orange from start to finish in what I believe to have been their most productive and complete game of the season.
En route to a 40-7 win, the team ran up 424 yards of total offense – shutting Syracuse out halfway through the second quarter after jumping to a 24-0 lead. They ended the half 27-0. The effort was led by QB1 Drake Maye who put on an incredible performance with 442 passing yards, 55 total rush yards and four
On top of this, he connected with 10 different receivers in the first half, showing a wealth of weapons at the receiver position.
Georgia Tech transfer Nate McCollum led all receivers with seven touches for 135 yards and junior Kobe Paysour had what Maye called a SportsCenter worthy catch in the third quarter. After throwing the ball behind him, Paysour bailed his quarterback out with a crafty tip of the ball to himself, followed by a smooth catch as he brought it home for the Tar Heels, extending their lead 37-7.
“What a play,” Maye said. “I don’t know if it’ll be on SportsCenter but I’m sure it will be.”
Oh, and let’s not forget that the offense managed 202 rushing yards after slacking off a bit after the App State game.
“I don’t think I’ve seen a first half that was dominant in a long time,” head coach Mack Brown said after the game. “They had 22 plays, we had 50, they had 70 yards, we had 400. We ran for over 200 yards and only had the two sacks with 47 passes. I’ve never seen Drake any better.”
The offensive cohesion from Saturday now begs the question, how far can this team go? The win was just a taste of what we can expect from a fully healthy unit as we look down the remainder of the ACC schedule.
North Carolina will stay home these next two weekends and will face No.25-ranked Miami at Kenan Stadium this Saturday. They will go on to host Virginia the following weekend.
The Hurricanes’ defense leads the ACC in yards per game with 14.6 and have proved relentless all season despite suffering a last-second loss to Georgia Tech on Saturday.
Their total offense is nothing to play with either, sitting right above North Carolina in second place averaging 39 yards per game. But with UNC’s high-rolling level of play across these five games, they are in the perfect position to add another win to the tally, especially under the guidance of some seasoned personnel guiding their way. The talent of this group stems in part from the NFL guys who since arriving in Chapel Hill, have made a sizable impact on the offense’s efficiency.
“It’s a blessing to have him in the room,” said Maye of UNC’s offensive analyst Clyde Christensen.
Joining the program in March 2023, Christensen brought in 43 years of coaching experience, 27 of which were from the NFL. He’s won two Super Bowls and coached some of the most prolific quarterbacks in the sport – arriving at Chapel Hill to serve as another pair of eyes for the Tar Heels.
Since arriving he’s been implementing the same drills he used to train seven-time Super Bowl star Tom Brady after coaching him during a four year stint with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“Our individual drill is one of our most intense periods of practice,” Maye said. “I feel like I’m winded more now than I am at any other point in practice. He works us and we’ll go back and watch our individuals and then watch Tom Brady and Peyton Manning doing the same drills.”
He also called out new offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey and run game coordinator Freddie Kitchens to the unit’s success, saying that everybody’s ability to bounce ideas off each other and find creative ways to score has been one of the focal points for this season.
No doubt it’s serving the Tar Heels well as they rank ninth in the NCAA in total offense, and are hitting it across all cylinders in what is primed to be an exciting time to be a Tar Heel or rather a GDTBATH.
“We’re chasing improvement,” said UNC center Corey Gaynor earlier this week. “I thought we used the bye week well, we gotta just keep stacking the days.”
Stacking days is just what has carried this team to 5-0 and the arrival of reinforcements in the form of Tez Walker, there is no shortage of what this offense still has left in the tank.’On top of this, he connected with 10 different receivers in the first half, showing a wealth of weapons at the receiver position.