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Off the cuff: Brandon Tate, who certainly was the hero on the field, had this to say off the field. "I ain't never had no game like this before. I was in the zone." Jeez. I think I'll leave my analysis at that for now as I look up at my college degree on the wall. I guess he said it all. He certainly did it all.

I'll be using this space to analyze football games this fall. Also check back for thoughts about the upcoming basketball season. If you'd like to sponsor this award-winning site, or agree or disagree with something written, please let me know by emailing me.

Heel Prints reviewed each UNC game
As a student sports editor years ago, prior to the season, Clifton Barnes predicted a national championship for the Tar Heels and indeed they won. In fact he wrote his lede paragraph for the national championship game almost a year early. He regrets that he didn't keep a journal after each game. While he didn't predict a championship this season, he did have those same feelings. He kept a journal after each game of the 2007-2008 season and you can reach them here. He recently completed writing about UNC's baseball season and will write an analysis after each UNC football game.

Heels 35, Cowboys 27
Tate almost singlehandedly beats tough McNeese St. team

North Carolina's Brandon Tate racked up 397 all-purpose yards to break the UNC record and scored two touchdowns to lead the Tar Heels to a 35-27 season-opening victory over a McNeese State squad that hung tough against the favored Heels.

Tate tallied the first score of the year with an 82-yard punt return for a TD in the first quarter. A long run by Tate in the second quarter set up the second score - a 4-yard touchdown pass from UNC quarterback T.J. Yates to Brooks Foster that made it 14-0.

At that point, there was a nearly two-hour weather delay as lightning moved into the area. The Cowboys evidently handled the break better as they rallied for a 92-yard drive on their first possession after the long layoff. Then, just moments later, a 70-yard punt return on a trick, reverse play by McNeese tied it at 14-14.

After a 5-minute halftime, UNC's Yates was intercepted on a pass that was badly underthrown. McNeese State went on a methodical, time-consuming drive that ended in a score. UNC's Marvin Austin, who left the game with an injury of unknown extent in the second half, blocked the extra point.

Carolina came right back when Yates found Tate for a TD pass on a third-and-six play. After Casey Barth's extra point, the Heels had the lead 21-20 with 4:35 left in the third period.

A Barth field goal attempt from 37 yards out sailed wide late in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter a leaping catch by Tate kept a drive alive. With nine minutes to go, runningback Shaun Draughn of Tarboro broke open on a 13-yard TD run that made it 28-20.

The Heels seemingly broke the whole game open with five minutes to go. Yates, who went 15 of 26 for 221 yards, hooked up with Hakeem Nicks for a 71-yard pass play that set up a 5-yard TD burst by Greg Little to make it 35-20.

A gritty McNeese State team, who had 391 total offense yards, scored late to make the final score 35-27.

Carolina travels to a highly regarded Rutgers team on Sept. 11. The Heels have a lot of work to do on offense and defense if they hope to be in that one - unless Tate goes crazy again.

"They outhustled us, outplayed us," said UNC coach Butch Davis. "The only thing they didn't do was have an answer to Brandon Tate."