North Carolina: The Tar Heels are coming off one of the most embarrassing losses in the modern history of the program, a 55-31 drubbing at the hands of the East Carolina Pirates, the same Pirates which the Hokies held to 10 points in Greenville. What makes it worse is the Tar Heels allowed this onslaught at home, only the second such win by the Pirates on the Tar Heels turf in the history of the series. They also gained 603 yards, the second-most UNC has ever allowed at home. ECU started out the scoring on two Shane Carden touchdown passes in the first quarter to give the visitors a 14-0 advantage. The Tar Heels finally got on the board with a 21-yard Thomas Moore field goal to make it 14-3. The Pirates would add to their advantage on a 1-yard Carden run four minutes later. Finally, the Tar Heels got in the end zone on their fifth possession of the game on a 32-yard pass from Quinshad Davis to T.J. Thorpe to pull the home team within 11. But again, just before halftime, Carden had another 1-yard plunge to put the visiting Pirates up 18 at half. They also opened up the second half like gangbusters, scoring on a 3-yard Chris Hairston run, putting the game essentially out of reach. The Tar Heels would never get closer than 14 again. Bryn Renner added three touchdown passes in the second half, but Carden added two touchdowns of his own to go along with two ECU field goals to provide the final margin of 55-31. Carden had 376 yards and three touchdowns apiece through the air and on the ground. Renner also threw for 3 TD's and 366 yards. Both quarterbacks threw an interception. A.J. Blue had over 100 total yards for the Tar Heels, and Quinshad Davis had 111 receiving yards and a touchdown. Vintavious Cooper had 186 rushing yards for the Pirates.
Trends: Virginia Tech lost their last game against North Carolina last year 48-34 in Chapel Hill. In that game, Tech scored first, going up on a 13-yard Logan Thomas run less than three minutes into the game. Carolina knotted it immediately, however, on a 94-yard Sean Tapley kickoff return for a touchdown.They then jump ahead eight minutes later on a 4-yard Bryn Renner run. But on their very next possession, Thomas hooked up with Marcus Davis for a 49-yard touchdown pass to even it at 14. The pivotal play came 7 seconds into the second quarter, when on a 4th and 1, Giovani Bernard ran right up the middle and went untouched for 62 yards to give the Heels a touchdown lead. The Hokies kicked a 40-yard field goal on their next drive after stalling out, but the Tar Heels answered on their next possession with a 1-yard A.J. Blue rush to make it an 11-point game. Tech added another Journell field goal, this one from 35, to make it an 8-point halftime deficit. But the Heels picked right up where they left off, as Renner found Tapley from 19-yards out midway through the second to push the margin to 15 points. Demitri Knowles gave the Hokies some hope, returning the favor on a 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown on the next play, bringing it back to a one score game, though the Hokies were unsuccessful on a 2-point conversion, keeping it at a 9-point deficit. The Heels would go on to add a field goal and another Blue rush touchdown to close the third with an 19-point lead. Tech would pull it back within 11 midway through the fourth on a 66-yard Logan Thomas to Corey Fuller hookup, but the Heels would hold on and even add a 40-yard field goal several minutes later, providing for the 48-34 margin. The Tar Heels gained 533 yards on offense, in what would be one of the worst games of Bud Foster's career as a defensive coordinator. The Hokies gained 394 yards of their own, including 354 yards from Thomas through the air.
History Lesson: The following information is all provided via Hokiesports.com. The Hokies lead the all-time series 18-11-6, are 3-1 against North Carolina at Lane Stadium, 7-3 against the Tar Heels under Frank Beamer and 7-2 in conference. The Hokies lost their last game to the Tar Heels 48-34 last season. Beamer is 0-1 against second-year Tar Heels Head Coach Larry Fedora. The Hokies are 1-1 in the series when both teams are unranked. Virginia Tech lost the first game of the series in 1895 by the score of 32-5. The average score of the series is a 14-12 Virginia Tech advantage. Both teams have been shut out in the series. Saturday's game marks only the seventh time the Tar Heels will haeve visited Lane Stadium. Tech is 62-19-4 all-time in Homecoming games and 39-7-2 all-time in those games at Lane Stadium, including a 22-4 record under Beamer. Tech is 18-3 under Beamer in conference home openers and 8-1 in ACC home openers. Tech is 51-28 under Beamer on seven or more days of rest (excluding bowl games). Five of the two teams' nine contests in the ACC have been decided by seven points or less. (rankings data dates back to 1950, the earliest year of Hokiesports' poll of choice, the Coaches' Poll).
What to Expect
North Carolina runs the spread offense
Defensively, the Tar Heels play out of the 4-3.
The Tar Heels rank No. 75 nationally in total offense with 397 yards per game. They are also scoring 25.3 points per game, which ranks No. 86 nationally.
North Carolina ranks No. 23 in passing offense with 296.8 yards per game through the air.
The Heels rank No. 112 nationally with 100.3 yards per game on the ground.
Defensively, the Heels are giving up 459.8 yards per game, good for No. 105 nationally. They also are tied for No. 93 in the nation in scoring defense, giving up 32.5 points per game.
In rushing defense, North Carolina is No. 112 nationally, allowing only 234.5 yards per game. Through the air, they've allowed 225.3 yards per game, good for a No. 60 ranking in the nation.
Bryn Renner has passed for 1,117 yards with 7 touchdowns and 3 interceptions so far this season.
Running backs A.J. Blue and Romar Morris have split the carries so far this season, and have combined for 345 yards and 3 TD's.
Eric Ebron has 17 receptions for 263 yards and a touchdown so far this year. Quinshad Davis also has 13 receptions for 204 yards and 3 TD's.
Hokies Win If: They are able to move the ball on UNC's porous defense and can slow down their passing attack.
Tar Heels Win If: The Hokies can't stay on the field/score and they are able to produce on the ground as well as through the air.
Dot-dot-dots: The triple-overtime win over Marshall was win No. 700 for the program. The Hokies are one of only 15 teams in the FBS to have that many wins. Frank Beamer is in sixth place all-time in wins among FBS coaches with 262. He needs 37 more to pass Joe Paterno, who now stands at 298 wins after 111 wins were vacated from his record. Individually, Logan Thomas is now the all-time leading-passer in Virginia Tech history in both passing attempts (1,oo5) and completions (550). In the win over Georgia Tech, Thomas moved into third place all-time at Virginia Tech in wins for a quarterback with 22. He needs four more wins to move into a tie for second place all-time with Bryan Randall with 26 wins. Thomas also passed Bryan Randall for second all-time in passing yards in Virginia Tech history against ECU, now standing at 7,015 yards, just 3 yards behind Tyrod Taylor for first all-time (7,017 yards). Thomas also passed Bryan Randall for second place in total yardage in Tech history in the win over Georgia Tech, and stands at 8,158 yards, needing just 1,056 yards to pass Tyrod Taylor (9,213 yards) for first all-time in total yardage. In the win over Georgia Tech, Thomas also moved into a tie with Tyrod Taylor for first place all-time in rushing touchdowns among Virginia Tech quarterbacks, with 23. Thomas also has 42 passing touchdowns, good for fifth all time at Tech, just 6 behind Bryan Randall for the all-time record and 1 behind Will Furrer for fourth place. The Hokies are 6-7-1 all-time on October 5.
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