Friday, September 19, 2008

What to Watch vs. North Carolina

The Stands

Hokie fans are notorious for taking over Kenan Stadium. The amount of Tar Heel Blue was up in 2006 from 2004 and I have a feeling with Carolina's recent success, it might be more difficult for the Hokies to make this similar to the Cubs playing in Milwaukee. Still, I expect a lot of orange and maroon Saturday.


The running back situation will go like this: Kenny Lewis will start, the first series will go three-and-out and Darren Evans will get most of the carries in the first quarter and the first half of the second. After that, look for more Lewis and some Josh Oglesby (with maybe some Dustin Pickle sprinkled in) in the second quarter and most of the third. Then Evans will get all the carries in the fourth quarter.

While Evans is by far the most effect back the Hokies have used so far, I have no problem with this. Why? Because it means Evans is fresh for the fourth quarter. All the good teams do this. Oklahoma would even do it with Adrian Peterson. He would get spelled during most of the third quarter and then dominate in the fourth.

If the Hokies are going to win, they need to wear down the Tar Heels in the first three quarters by pounding the ball against the UNC front seven. The Hokies have to keep it close so Evans can be the difference maker in the fourth quarter.

Look at what happened against Georgia Tech. Evans had one carry until late in the third quarter. After that, he had three of the last four carries by running backs in the third and all six carries by running backs in the fourth quarter. Evans was a beast against the Yellow Jackets and I look for him to be the same against the Tar Heels.

However, I don't think it's going to be enough. At some point in this game, the Hokies will need a big play in the passing game. And it can't come from Tyrod Taylor dropping back, tucking and running. They will need to hit a home run through the air. Something they haven't done so far this year.

The Tar Heels will stack the box against Taylor to both try and stop the run and to try and contain him when he tries to scramble. Unless he makes plays with his arm, there won't be much room for the running backs to run.

The Tar Heel secondary played better than they have played in years against Rutgers. Only time will tell if this was because of how terrible Rutgers is or how good the Carolina secondary has become. Personally, I was impressed with the secondary. They played with confidence and swagger against the Scarlet Knights. They will have the same swagger in front of the home crowd Saturday.


It will come down to how much pressure the Hokies can get on TJ Yates. I think the Carolina passing game will be all or nothing on Saturday. It will have one or two big plays from Hakeem Nicks and Brandon Tate. However, the Tar Heel passing game will also have periods where it is disrupted and out of sync because of the Hokie front four.

I was very impressed with both Nekos Brown and Jason Worilds against Georgia Tech. They both raised their level of play with Cam Martin not nearly 100 percent. Martin will be back Saturday, but may not be at full speed. I think it will again be up to Brown and Worilds to make plays. But it does make me feel good to know the Hokies can rotate three defensive ends again.

The defensive tackles looked completely different against Georgia Tech than against ECU and Furman. They had the Jacket snap count down and were very disruptive when I had though the Jackets would be able to run up the middle all day on the Hokies.

John Graves and company will have to have the same type of game for the Hokies to win Saturday. Because of how they played against Georgia Tech, I think the Hokies will be able to stop the Tar Heels on the ground. However, if they revert to their form from the ECU and Furman games, the Hokies are in trouble. Stopping the ground game makes it easier to stop the passing game.

The Hokies have had miscommunication among the secondary early in the season. Davon Morgan and Dorian Porch have both struggled at rover and because of this, I think you'll see a couple of big plays through the air from the Tar Heels. It will be up to the leaders of this defense, Kam Chancellor and Macho Harris, to keep the youngsters in check and keep them from having a complete meltdown.

The Tar Heels will have big plays through the air, but we can't let this become like the situation at Boston College in 2006 where you have bickering over missed assignments that affects the team the rest of the game. Keep it together and stop them on the next play.


This game will come down to big plays. The Tar Heels have more home run hitter than the Hokies right now, which is why I think they will win. Right now, I think the Tar Heels can score quickly while the Hokies have to be more methodical to get their points. A big play late will turn this game.

At times this game will be ugly and unwatchable like the Georgia Tech game last week or the North Carolina game last year. But in the end, it will be a big play from North Carolina that will turn the game. Kind of like the last time the Hokies played in the Tar Heel State.

You also have to take into account that this is the first true road game for most of the Hokie roster. How they handle the pressure will dictate how the Hokies do Saturday.

Check the box score for:
1. VT sacks and QB hurries.
2. NC yards per completion.
3. Tyrod Taylor completion percentage.
4. NC yards rushing.

Players to watch for VT
6 - Jason Worilds, DE, So.
5 - Tyrod Taylor, QB, So.
32 - Darren Evans, RB, So.
17 - Kam Chancellor, FS, Jr.

Players to watch for NC
87 - Brandon Tate, WR, Sr.
13 - TJ Yates, QB, So.
52 - Quan Sturdivant, LB, So.
16 - Kendric Burney, CB, So.

Score: North Carolina 25, Virginia Tech 21


hokieglenn said...

great summary, gobbler. you're right about the maroon and orange in the stands at Kennan. That's usually pretty fun to watch, be interesting tomorrow.

BTW, let's hope ABC/ESPN gets their act together and puts us on HIGH DEFINITION.


furrer4heisman said...

tomorrows game will be in hd according to the coverage map. doesnt matter to me because the gameplan channels arent in hd.