I am not an exceptionally positive person by nature. If you’ve read my previous columns, this may come as a surprise to you, as two weeks ago I laid out . In football. At a time when they were 0-2. Including a loss to ECU.
However, anyone who actually knows me will tell you that unbridled optimism of that magnitude is not exactly my nature. In fact, it’s entirely possible that many people would describe me as the exact opposite.
On a scale of “Carolina should probably just disband the football program since they’ll never win another game” to “I’m going to go ahead and buy my tickets to the College Football Playoffs since it’s obvious the Heels will never lose again,” I’m somewhere around “oh, we ran that punt back for a touchdown? Well, there’s probably a flag on the play.” Personally, I’d describe myself as “pessimistic with a smile,” which I think is more commonly known as sarcastic.
With all that being said, as a contributor for , WRAL SportsFan asked me to write about Carolina athletics from a fan’s perspective, so during the first few weeks of the season I decided to make a concerted effort to be bright and cheerful.
Fan is short for fanatic, and fans often tend to be overly optimistic. If WRAL had wanted someone to say negative things about the Tar Heels, they could have gotten a State or Duke fan to write this feature.
After five columns, however, I’ll say two things about my newfound attempt at having a rosy outlook on life. One, opposing fans who read my column detailing how the Heels could go undefeated in the Coastal division (and failed to see any hint of sarcasm) have done nothing to reinforce the idea that having a positive attitude will make people like you more. In fact, just the opposite. And two, Carolina football has not made positivity easy to muster. Also just the opposite.
Nevertheless, I’m going to give optimism one more chance. There are plenty of people writing about how Larry Fedora should be fired and how having two quarterbacks really means you don’t have a quarterback at all. And it’s possible in a few weeks I’ll write my own opinions similar to these, but for now I want to try to take the negative thoughts that have come to me naturally over the last couple of weeks and attempt to twist them into a positive viewpoint. Make lemonade out of lemons, if you will.
The negative thought: we fans have to go 16 straight days without Tar Heel football to watch. watching Carolina football lose by six touchdowns than spend a Saturday without football.”
I didn’t necessarily think this year’s squad was going to take that statement literally and ask me to put my money where my mouth is, but here we are. Even now, I still believe that even if the team is bad, fans still want to have the opportunity to watch them play on a Saturday. That doesn’t mean they’ll all show up at the game or watch the entire thing from beginning to end, but they want to have the opportunity, so this long stretch of time without games is disappointing.
The positive twist: we fans get to experience four consecutive Saturdays without watching Carolina football lose. Thanks to a hurricane, a victory over Pitt, a Thursday evening game and a bye week, the schedule has shaken out so that the Saturdays of September 15, 22, 29 and October 6 did not or will not feature a Tar Heel loss. Bonus, there were/are other football games to watch on those days, allowing us to scratch our college sports itch.
The negative thought: Against Miami, Carolina’s quarterbacks combined to complete 20 of 35 passes for 113 yards, zero touchdowns, and three interceptions (but only two pick sixes if we want to look at the glass half full).
The positive twist: Let me start by explaining the term “absolute value” to those folks that haven’t used it since it was taught to them middle school math class. Absolute value is the magnitude of a real number without regard to its sign. For example, negative 200 has a higher absolute value than positive 100. If we could make a stat line of absolute values (where completions and touchdowns are given without regard to which team caught or scored them), suddenly the quarterback results from Thursday’s loss to the Hurricanes doesn’t look so bad. 23 of 35, 239 yards, two touchdowns (and technically, a “handoff” for a touchdown, as well). That’s a decent day.
The negative thought: Carolina surrendered 47 points to Miami, with 33 of them coming in the first half. You don’t win many football games allowing 47 points.
The positive twist: The defense didn’t allow that many points. Excluding their final possession of the game, Miami had three touchdowns, two field goals, two punts, a fumble, and an interception on their nine drives. Allowing 26 points (a blocked extra point prevented it from being 27) and 354 yards isn’t the greatest performance of all time, but it’s not horrible against the 16th ranked team in the country. It at least ought to put you in a position to have a chance to win, though clearly it did not in this instance.
The Heels are off this weekend before facing Virginia Tech the following week. The last time they played a game following a week off, Carolina found a way to squeak out a conference win against Pitt. So for at least one more week, I’m going to keep on my Carolina blue-colored glasses and cross my fingers that the Heels have a shot against VT.
But if the Hokies come into Chapel Hill and hand Carolina a loss along the lines of the beat down they received against Miami, I’m reverting to my natural, Eeyore-like personality.