Monday, September 12, 2016

Trubisky's primetime show ends in victory at Illinois

                   Photo Credit: UNC Athletic Communications

In the game of life, a human being must face its fears by conquering a failed the mission from the past and stare down the 500-pound gorilla on the other side.

For North Carolina Tar Heels junior quarterback Mitch Trubisky, losing a fourth quarter lead in the Georgia Dome to Georgia on Sept. 3 could easily damage one's psyche for an entire season.

In a world where all that matters is what you have done for lately, North Carolina coach Larry Fedora challenged Trubisky to embrace the defeat and turn it into fuel.

Trubisky did that and then some in primetime with a balanced performance in a 48-23 win at Illinois in front of a sold-out crowd of 60,760 fans.

After failing to throw for a touchdown in the season opener against Georgia, Trubisky went 19-of-24 through the air for 265 yards and two touchdowns.

Even in victory, Trubisky reflected on North Carolina's slow start in the first quarter, where it trailed for all except 30 seconds.

"We have to work on getting out fast in the first series, but I think we settled down, showed adversity eventually and came out with the win," Trubisky said after Saturday's win at Illinois.

Balanced effort:

Trubisky dazzled with his legs on nine carries for 42 yards and two TD's, highlighted by a splendid 39-yard run on the team's second drive of the game that would make the legendary Steve Young proud.

"The offensive line did a great job all night giving me time and kept attacking the areas of the field," Trubisky said. "I went to Mack [Hollins] and Bug [Howard] a couple of times and took what the [Illinois] defense gave us."

One week at a time:

In the College Football Playoff era, once loss does not necessarily eliminate most Power Five schools from contention, but Trubisky prefers to keep the vision on improving and making his teammates better each game.

"I expect to get better every week and that's what I will try to do," Trubisky said. "I have to keep relying on my teammates and if we do that, then we will be alright. We have a long ways to go, but we will get better."

If Saturday's performance at Illinois becomes the norm, Trubisky and the Tar Heels could be players in the race for College Football's final four on the first Sunday in December.

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Follow Geno Green on Twitter @TheGenoGreen.