North Carolina wide receiver Tez Walker was taken to an Atlanta-area hospital for further evaluation after a blindside hit late in the fourth quarter of a 46-42 loss at Georgia Tech on Saturday night.
Walker made a first-down reception as the Tar Heels were attempting a comeback but was hit without seeing the defender coming and fumbled. He was on the ground for several minutes and eventually was able to walk off with the help of trainers. But as he made his way to the sideline, he appeared unsteady on his feet.
North Carolina coach Mack Brown said during his postgame news conference that Walker was “aware and talking” but deferred further questions to the medical staff. UNC later said Walker had been taken to the hospital.
The loss was the second in a row for North Carolina, which opened the season 6-0 with hopes to make it back to the ACC championship game. But the Tar Heels have now blown double-digit leads in both defeats, to teams that came into their matchup with losing records.
Against Georgia Tech, the Tar Heels’ defense appeared to revert to the lacking form from last season, particularly early on. Georgia Tech had 635 yards of total offense. In the fourth quarter alone, the Yellow Jackets scored 22 points and had 246 rushing yards. Brown called the defense “awful” in the fourth.
“I’ve never seen anybody just take it and run for 10 yards a crack,” Brown said. “I told the guys I can’t answer what happened right now. I’ll watch it on the plane going home; we’ll adjust. We’ve got to grow up, man up and get ready to play next week.”
What made that fourth-quarter performance even more problematic was the fact that UNC had held Georgia Tech scoreless in the first and third quarters.
“I’ve been doing this 35 years,” Brown said. “I’ve never seen two quarters that bad and two quarters that good. I thought we were beyond that on defense.”
Getting off to hot starts then losing has been a knock against North Carolina. Last season, the Tar Heels started out 9-1 before losing four straight to end the season.
“They’re crushed, and I’ve got to pick them up,” Brown said. “Everybody will be down on them. I thought they tried tonight. Started the game 21-7; they checked all the boxes until we didn’t. We’ve got to go back, don’t start pointing fingers, don’t start second-guessing, stay off the Internet, don’t be watching the news and go back to work and get better next week.”