Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Q&A with Tar Heel Fan Blog

Brian from Tar Heel Fan Blog was nice enough to participate in a Q&A to give us better insight into this year's Tar Heel team. My answers to his questions will be available on his blog soon.

Click here for my answers to his questions.

The Tar Heels were a young team who played tough against the Hokies last year in Blacksburg. What's changed for the Heels since then? Where have they improved the most?

Hopefully the running game. UNC was at the bottom of D-I in running offense last season and showed some signs of life against Rutgers. The defense seems to be improved and was very aggressive against Rutgers. The yards allowed was still a tad high but the Heels very much had a bend but don't break mentality about them.

What do the Hokies need to do to slow down the Tar Heel offense? They looked very impressive against Rutgers.

Stop the run and pressure TJ Yates. Yates has been known to have trouble if the front four are getting in his face. Passes being knockdown at the line of scrimmage were not uncommon last season. After a slow start versus Rutgers, Yates looked very good but some of that is credited to the offensive line which started knocking the Rutgers defensive line back giving him room and time to throw. Clearly UNC has it's best weapons in the passing game while the jury is still out on the run.

Your secondary was solid against the Scarlet Knights, but how does your front seven stack up? They haven't be tested very much against McNeese and Rutgers.

The linebackers looked good. They collected two INTs, one for a TD and made a lot of good tackles to stop Rutgers, especially on 3rd down. The front four is a bit of a mystery. EJ Wilson and Marvin Austin are expected to make plays but in two games only one sack has been recorded, a meaningless one near the end of the Rutgers game. It is possible, Everett Withers held back a little on pressuring the QB to cover the passing game better but is a point of concern that UNC has been seemingly disinterested in pressuring the QB save the occasional corner blitz.

Brandon Tate has been on fire this season. Did he get lost among the preseason hype surrounding Hakeem Nicks or is his success a surprise to Tar Heel fans as well?

Tate was a known commodity, mainly for his kickoff and punt returns. When the season began, Tate was tied with Charlie Justice for most return TDs in a career at UNC with 5, a record he broke in the first game against McNeese State. Nicks did get most of the attention in the preseason as being the top receiver but Tate was expected to be a huge part of the passing game as well. The real surprise came in his scoring on rushing plays and the general number of all purpose yards he has racked up in two games. I can say, no one was expecting him to be such an all around weapon like he has been.

The Tar Heels haven't beaten the Hokies since VT joined the ACC in 2004. Do you view this game as the best chance for the Tar Heels to knock off VT? Do Tar Heel fans considering beating the Hokies as the hump they need to get over in order to win the division?

Definitely the best chance that has presented itself since the 1998 Gator Bowl. Obviously with Virginia Tech picked to win the division and the fact they handled Georgia Tech, UNC really has to win this game, especially since it is at home. The trip to Miami will be a tough game so taking care of business at home is paramount to what happens going forward.

This game is being played fairly early in the season. Which team benefits from that the most?

Given the QB situation in Blacksburg I would say UNC is in better shape early on since the Heels have had stability in all the key positions since the spring. Then again, you are talking about two well coached teams so I think ultimately it is a wash.

What are the thoughts of Tar Heel fans on Beamer's brief flirtation with the school in 2000?

Meh...the media makes a big deal about it every time these two get together. They love to play "what if" games or ask the question whether Beamer made a good choice which is a pretty darn obvious answer and does not warrant discussion. The main issue most UNC fans had with that whole situation was with AD Dick Baddour who had a five year stretch of botching the football and basketball hires so much it tanked both programs. Those issues have since been corrected mainly because Baddour went hands off in the last coaching search and let Chuck Neinas run it.

Finally, do you have any tailgating tips for visiting Hokie fans this weekend? Where's the best place to properly "prepare" for kickoff the day of the game?

Truthfully I have never tailgated for a UNC game. Logistically there is not a great setup given the campus bound stadium. However I will give you the official FAQ on tailgating from the UNC website:


Frequently Asked Questions

When can you start to tailgate?
The Department of Public Safety makes sure that all parking areas are clear of non-permitted cars by 8:00am on game days. You are welcome to come and park and start your tailgate any time after that.

What parking areas are best for tailgating?
The Manning Lot, near the Smith Center is a favorite. The wooded surroundings provide a great atmosphere and shade on those warm Fall afternoons. There are many options in numerous lots across campus.

What food options are there on campus?
If you're not tailgating for your pre-game feast, check out the restaurant options along Franklin Street or pick up some food at Tar Heel Town.

The last time I attended a game at Kenan I opted for eating on Franklin St. then heading to the game.

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