North Carolina’s 2023 season ends on a low note, as the Tar Heels fell to West Virginia 30-10 in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl.

For UNC, it’s a forgettable finish to a disappointing season that ends with an 8-5 record. The Tar Heels saw numerous starters opt-out, and fan enthusiasm took a hit, too. ESPN’s broadcast noted that it was a Mountaineer crowd Wednesday night in Charlotte.

Here are 3 takeaways from UNC’s loss to West Virginia:

Opt-outs loomed large

As one would expect without Drake Maye, Tez Walker and others, Carolina did not look like a team that averaged 36.6 points per game, second in the ACC only to undefeated Florida State.

The box score is a bit of a head-scratcher. Carolina led in time of possession (34:39). Quarterback Conner Harrell completed 67% of his passes. Standout running back Omarion Hampton got his share of touches (19 carries, 74 yards). Those isolated stats, however, simply did not translate to points on the board before the game got out of hand.

Fading late

Give the Tar Heels credit, they weren’t fazed by early big plays or turnovers. Defense kept UNC in the game as the offense struggled, but eventually West Virginia pulled away.

It was a 20-10 until WVU dominated the final quarter. When Carolina’s deficit got deeper, the Tar Heels could not muster a 3rd-down or 4th-down conversion to get a late rally going. When the pressure was on, Carolina just wasn’t cut out for a quick score to swing the momentum.

There will be a quarterback competition

Maye leaves big shoes to fill on Chapel Hill. Harrell entered the game with a single-digit college resume – 4 games played, 5 rushes and 6 passes thrown.

Two interceptions in his first start against a Power 5 defense should not be surprising or particularly concerning. Harrell showed poised and some promising moments as both a passer and a runner. Max Johnson obviously expects to be UNC’s next QB1, but Harrell showed that he’ll have something to say about that in the spring and summer.