NCF Nation: Todd Harrelson
How the game was won:With instant replay. Thanks to an official review, the Tar Heels got one more chance and one second back on the clock in regulation -- just enough time for Casey Barth to tie the game at 20 with a 38-yard field goal. Regulation ended with terrible clock management by North Carolina, as the Tar Heels let about 11 seconds run off the clock before spiking the ball. The officials said “the game is over” and mass confusion ensued before they decided on putting a second back onto the clock. Tennessee imploded with three costly penalties in the final 30 seconds, including a 13-yard personal foul that landed the Heels on the 12-yard line to start overtime. UNC quarterback T.J. Yates scored with a 1-yard run in overtime, but Tennessee answered right back, sending it into a second overtime. Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray, who got a little brash in the first overtime, threw an interception in the second overtime and Barth kicked the game-winning, 23-yard field goal.
Turning point: With 25 seconds remaining in the game, Todd Harrelson’s catch for 28 yards was reviewed, upheld, and a 15-yard personal foul was tacked on, setting the Tar Heels up with a first down on the Tennessee 37-yard line. It was the play in regulation that kept UNC's hopes alive for a chance at a field goal to send the game into overtime.
Stat of the game: North Carolina held Tennessee to just 27 yards rushing.
Player of the game: UNC kicker Casey Barth. His 39-yard field goal tied the game at 20 and sent it into overtime, and his 23-yard kick gave the Tar Heels their first bowl win since 2001.
Unsung hero of the game:UNC running back Shaun Draughn. Filling in for suspended starter Anthony Elzy, Draughn ran for 160 yards and one touchdown with an average of 7 yards per carry.
What it means: UNC took the next step in the postseason under coach Butch Davis and won the close game, snapping a three-game bowl losing streak. It was a fitting end to a season defined by Carolina's relentlessness through the NCAA investigations. North Carolina hasn't been at full strength all year because of injuries and the investigations, but they've dug deep all season to find ways to win, and this game was a microcosm of that effort.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Last fall, UNC quarterback T.J. Yates was leading the ACC and ranked 12th nationally in passing efficiency before he suffered a non-displaced fracture of his left ankle against Virginia Tech and missed the next five games. He still completed 60 percent of his passes (81 of 135) for 1,168 yards, 11 touchdowns and just four interceptions.
|Paul Jasienski/Getty Images|
|T.J. Yates will have a new group of receivers to work with this season.|
His health will be key to the Tar Heels staying in contention for the Coastal Division title this fall, and right now, he's feeling great. Yates found some time to chat this morning, and it sounds like the Tar Heels are taking their summer workouts a bit more seriously this year.
Check it out:
I just wanted to check in and see how this summer is going for you, seven-on-sevens, and when you were cleared to play from your picnic incident. I'm tip-toeing around that one.
Yates: I knew that was coming. I've been throwing for a couple of months. It wasn't long before I got back. As soon as it got out of the splint I was back throwing again pretty quickly. It wasn't really affected at all. It only took about a week of rehab and I was back to normal.
It's been good. We've been going three, four days a week doing OTAs [organized team activities] and seven-on-sevens. We're trying different things, trying to get as many people out there as we can. It's kind of tough with everybody's schedules, because everybody has study halls and class. We're trying to get everybody out there at the same time, but we've done a pretty good job.
We usually go Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 5 o'clock, doing one-on-ones, seven-on-sevens, individual stuff, try to get prepared as much as we can going into training camp. We've been doing a good job with conditioning and working hard in the weight room. The conditioning, we're getting pretty serious. We're stepping it up as opposed to the last offseason, trying to make better strides and get in better condition.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
The Tar Heels begin spring practice today and coach Butch Davis and his staff have a lot of work to do in order to improve upon last year's impressive eight-win season. At the top of the list is finding a few players who can catch the ball.
Here are the highlights of our conversation, with the warning that Davis turns around programs faster than he tends to answer questions (not that there's anything wrong with that):
|Bob Donnan/US Presswire|
|Greg Little will be someone the Tar Heels look to this season.|
Everyone knows you have a lot to replace at wide receiver. What can you tell me about the guys who have the potential to step in there this spring?
BD: That will probably be our No. 1 main objective going into the spring, at least from a position standpoint, is replacing those three unbelievably talented wide receivers. And Cooter Arnold was a really significant player when we got into four wide receiver packages, but having said all that, I think that we've got five guys on campus right now that we're excited to find out about. They've had an opportunity to watch for this last year or so. They watched those three guys practice, how hard they practiced, how much film they studied, how much trust and confidence they developed with the quarterback, and certainly Greg Little is probably the most experienced player that we have. He's played wide receiver, and he's started games at wideout, he's played as a running back. He's got pretty significant game experience.
After that, then most of the guys, they're kind of somewhat young, but we think they've got some talent. Dwight Jones was one of the most highly recruited receivers in the country a couple of years ago. We think he is poised to step in and be able to contribute and do some things. We're also very excited about Todd Harrelson, a receiver we recruited last year that redshirted this past season. We think that he's got some things he can certainly bring to the table. One of the most highly recruited kids in last year's class was Josh Adams, that enrolled in midterm. So he's been going through our offseason program and that was part of the recruiting program, knowing a year ago we were going to lose some guys to graduation. We didn't know Hakeem (Nicks) was going to go out early in the draft, but that was one of the things in trying to get Josh. We knew he'd be able to come in at midterm. We've got another kid that's going to be a junior, Rashad Mason.
A lot of these guys have been waiting in the wings, flying under the radar, so to speak, because we had those three guys that did probably 85 percent of the playing over the last two years. So now will be a time for us to really work with some consistency, some continuity in the springtime, and it will be an ongoing process all summer long and certainly into training camp. We think by the start of the season we've got some other kids we signed -- we signed three other receivers to come in in this class that we think they'll have an opportunity to add a little bit to the position.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
As we head into spring football, there will be some pretty big names missing from the rosters -- Clemson needs to replace its starting quarterback, safety and running back, Duke lost the ACC's leading tackler, Virginia lost its leading receiver and rusher, BC lost its starting defensive tackles, Georgia Tech needs to replace three of its four starting defensive linemen, and UNC needs to replace all of its top receivers -- just to name a few. There will also be plenty of replacements within coaching staffs.
Here are the five biggest shoes to fill in the ACC this spring:
|Mark Goldman/Icon SMI|
|Aaron Curry finished his career at Wake Forest with 332 tackles.|
Virginia Tech cornerback Victor "Macho" Harris -- Not only will the Hokies lose one of their top defenders, they'll also lose a true leader. Last season, Harris had 14 passes defended and six interceptions -- including two returned for touchdowns -- and two forced fumbles. One option is to move Stephan Virgil to the other side like the staff did when Brandon Flowers left. Another is to let a few players battle it out. Rashad Carmichael started the game Harris missed due to injury.
Florida State defensive end Everette Brown -- He led the league in sacks and tackles for loss. Brown's season sack total was 13.5 and his career sack total was 23. Markus White, who was Brown's backup in 2008, earned his first sack against Clemson, and is the front-runner to succeed Brown. Kevin McNeil also has experience at the end position.
Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry -- The Butkus Award winner finished the regular season with a team-leading 101 tackles and 15 tackles for loss. Curry finished his career with 332 tackles and a school-record 278 career interception return yards. Jonathan Jones was Curry's backup last season and has some experience there.
UNC receiver Hakeem Nicks -- Nicks set UNC single-season records in 2008 for receiving yards (1,222) and touchdowns (12). In just three seasons, Nicks established 14 school records at UNC, including career receptions (181), career receiving yards (2,580) and career touchdowns (21). The staff recruited several receivers who are expected to compete for time this fall, but Joshua Adams, who enrolled in January, could have a slight edge because he'll be practicing this spring. Sophomore Dwight Jones should also be in the mix, along with Todd Harrelson and Rashad Mason.
Boston College coach Jeff Jagodzinski -- He took the Eagles to back-to-back ACC title games, including 2008, when little was expected of the Eagles in their first season without Matt Ryan. Jagodzinski left Boston College with a 20-8 record (11-3 in 2007, 9-5 in 2008). Former defensive coordinator Frank Spaziani will be in his first season as a head coach.