This week, I was able to get Brian Barbour, manager of Tar Heel Blog, to participate in a Q & A with me. In this week's Q & A session, we discuss the game, the two teams' roller-coaster seasons, Disney (briefly) and basketball. Brian also made his prediction for this weekend's game (and he went a different way than I did folks). So if you want to see a fan perspective with detailed answers from a Tar Heel point of view, just keep on reading. If not...hey, did that guy below just call you stupid? Look what he said!
During the Q & A, I refer to myself as CM (ChicagoMaroon) and to Brian as THB (for Tar Heel Blog). Enjoy, and GO HOKIES!
CM: So far the Tar Heels are in the midst of an up and down season (as are the Hokies). Although I did not erroneously pick them for a championship game that they are ineligible to play in (like a certain Roanoke Times reporter who will remain nameless), I probably expected a performance a little more linear out of the Heels. What have been the main issues that have caused the two losses to date?
THB: In both games there were moments where the defense had significant lapses. Late in the second half versus Wake Forest, the defense simply could not stop the Demon Deacons from driving 90+ yards for a game winning score. Against Louisville the defense didn't bother showing up in the first half. That being said, the two losses also were played without running back Gio Bernard. How much his presence would have mattered is pure speculation. Considering UNC lost to Wake by one and was one pass play from taking the lead late versus Louisville, you have to believe it mattered.
CM: That being said, looking at the Hokies, what are some areas you project the Tar Heels struggling against the Hokies?
THB: This game will be a nice test for the no-huddle offense at a point in the season where (1) Bernard is playing and (2) everyone appears to be comfortable with it. The defense is also an area where I am not sold on its consistency.
CM: What potential mismatches do you think the Heels can exploit against the Hokies?
THB: Virginia Tech is 77th in rushing defense and Gio Bernard is poised to have that "big game." That appears to be the most likely match-up UNC will exploit. Larry Fedora wants a balance offense but the fact the Hokies are top 30 in passing defense says this is a game where UNC should run the ball more.
CM: Which do you think is the real Tar Heel team? The one we've seen in the two losses so far, or the one that just beat the poop (poop?) out of Idaho?
THB: The Idaho game was worthless as a means of valuing this Tar Heel team. The Vandals were really bad to the point it was like you were watching a video game where one team had all the ratings turned to 99. The Louisville game stands out as a game where two different versions of UNC showed up. I think the truth is somewhere in the middle.
CM: Give us an abbreviated injury report on the Heels. Where do they stand in that regard? Good shape? Bad?
CM: I will reserve this question simply as a placeholder and allow you to express your feelings about the officiating of last year's Virginia Tech-UNC game here:
THB: Last year? Meh...I was at Disney and only saw parts of the second half. I am actually more pissed about that game in 2008 where Ron Cherry flagged a UNC player for unsportsmanlike conduct while his face mask was being grabbed by a Virginia Tech player in full view of the officials.
CM: Chapel Hill is a beautiful place, and there a lot of things to do in the Raleigh-Durham metro area. So, for the Hokies making the trip, what kinds of things do you recommend?
THB: In Chapel Hill there is plenty to do just walking on Franklin Street though I imagine the proliferation of UNC paraphernalia might make Hokie fans sick. Outside of that there is the usual in terms of malls, places to eat, etc.
CM: What do you think is the general feeling of the Hokies throughout the Tar Heel fan base?
THB: I don't sense much in the way of hatred. In fact I would put Virginia Tech fans fairly low on the list of fanbases we dislike within the ACC.
CM: So how about this deal: Will you guys let us win this week by laying down if we let you win in basketball by laying down (I'm sorry, I can't do this with a straight face. I have to imagine this pitch would be of greater appeal when we had a basketball program that could actually give you a game. Please disregard this note and respond blindly above)?
THB: No deal.
CM: Tech fans should be pretty familiar with the Tar Heels' players, but just in case, who are some of the players the Hokies should watch out for? How about some obscure ones that only UNC fans would know to look for?
One name that jumps out is Tommy Heffernan
who was a virtual unknown prior to the season but in the Louisville game started making plays and really hasn't stopped. Along those lines, UNC seems to be getting multiple players making contributions. There seems to be a mentality instilled by Fedora for everyone to do the little things as evidence by a backup running back with two blocked punts this season.CM: Finally, it's prediction time. Who do you have, by how much and why?
THB: I am pessimistic and still needs some convincing. I think UNC can win but I am not sure I can quite go all the way to predict the win. Besides, I find it hard to believe the Hokies will roll off the cliff to 3-3.
Virginia Tech 23 UNC 20