Monday, September 15, 2008

North Carolina Game Guide

Virginia Tech at North Carolina

Time: 3:30 p.m.
Date: Saturday, Sept. 20, 2008
Place: Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill, N.C.
TV: ABC/ESPN (Those in the ACC viewing area will see the game on ABC, those in the Big Ten viewing area will see the game on ESPN. Everyone else can see the game on ESPN Game Plan.)

Last Meeting: Virginia Tech won, 17-10 in Blacksburg, Va. The Hokies won their ACC opener despite being out-gained by 65 yards on offense. Cam Martin had three sacks, including one on a late drive by North Carolina to lead the Hokies on defense.

Trends: The Hokies have not lost to the Tar Heels since joining the ACC in 2004 (4-0)...the Hokies have not lost in Chapel Hill since 1938 (2-0-1)...Tech is 15-1 on the road since joining the ACC in 2004...its only road loss in ACC play was at Boston College in 2006...the Hokies have won six consecutive road ACC games...they are 13-0 in conference road openers under head coach Frank Beamer...North Carolina is looking to start the season 3-0 for the first time since 1997...the Tar Heels have won four of their last five home ACC games.

What to Expect:
The Hokies will need this game to be similar to both last week's Georgia Tech game and last year's North Carolina game. It needs to be ugly and at times boring to watch.

I don't expect the Hokies to try to pass much against the Tar Heels. North Carolina has an excellent, hard-hitting secondary that punished Rutgers last week. Their confidence will be high.

However, the Tar Heels haven't been tested on the ground much this year. They have played I-AA McNeese State and a Rutgers team that lacks anything resembling a physical ground game.

We'll find out pretty quick how the Tar Heels are against the run. Darren Evans will get the ball early and often. If he has success, then so do the Hokies. If he doesn't, the fact the Hokies have no semblance of a passing game and are content to hand the ball off to Kenny Lewis for two and three-yard losses to give Evans a breather, means we're pretty much boned.

North Carolina has the best receiver tandem in the country in Hakeem Nicks and Brandon Tate. Tate is the Tar Heels best playmaker and they do everything in their power to get him the ball: Screens, deep passes, reverses, you name it. What a novel concept. Get the guy who can do the most with the ball in his hands the ball as often as possible. It'll never work.

The Hokies will need to have better communication between Kam Chancellor and the rovers against North Carolina. They threw all over Rutgers (who probably sucks). They'll try to do the same Saturday.

Hokies win if: They are able to control the game with their rushing attack, get another efficient game from Tyrod Taylor and get pressure on UNC QB TJ Yates. The Hokies can't let Yates be as comfortable in the pocket as he was against Rutgers.

Tar Heels win if:
They force the Hokies into passing situations, don't turn the ball over and get big days from Hicks and Tate.

Dot-dot-dots: Hokie DT John Graves has blocked a kick in each of the Hokies' first three the last two games, Darren Evans has averaged 5.5 yards per carry...Evans has scored a touchdown in his first three games as a Hokie...the Hokies are 11-1 against the four North Carolina schools in the ACC since joining the league in 2004, including 7-0 on the road...their lone loss was in 2004 against NC State.

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