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Virginia Tech Football: Five Burning Questions, North Carolina Edition

The Hokies got back in the win column last week, but there are always questions.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

1. Can the Hokies run the ball against UNC?

Not the first time I've asked this question, but after a strong second half against Western Michigan it will be interesting to see if Tech can keep things going against a talented Carolina defense. Clearly, the loss of the Hokies' most well-rounded tailback in Shai McKenzie is a major blow to the ground game, but Trey Edmunds appears to be rounding back into shape and will attempt to fill Shai's role.

The Hokies had more success on the ground after shuffling the offensive line a bit in the second half against WMU. It would be interesting to see Wyatt Teller get playing time with the starters to see if those results translate against a stronger opponent.

2. Is the North Carolina defense any good?

As we all know, East Carolina is very good but still you wouldn't expect them to put up 70 points against the Tar Heels. That's exactly what happened the week after the Pirates took down the Hokies and the highlight film isn't pretty for UNC.

Missed tackles, poor angles and defensive backs getting burned deep. Not a recipe for success and you have to think Tech will try and attack on the outside through the air. The Hokies want to run the ball sure, but Scot Loeffler wants to maintain a balanced attack so look for Michael Brewer to take some shots downfield.

3. How will the Hokies defend punt returner Ryan Switzer?

The speedy receiver from Charleston, WV is always a dangerous threat returning punts. As a freshman last season, Switzer had just over 500 yards on 25 returns with five touchdowns. This year he's been slower gaining just 96 yards on 15 returns.

Tech will try and slow him the same way other teams have with high kicks and directional punts toward the sidelines, something A.J. Hughes excels with. It's worth noting that Switzer is catching more passes as a sophomore and has completed two passes—one each season—both for touchdowns on trick plays.

4. Speaking of special teams, why are teams kicking so poorly against the Hokies?

Beamer Ball has been heavily criticized in recent years as the Hokies rarely block kicks anymore. That makes sense with the new blocking schemes for punts, but what about field goals? Tech hasn't blocked many of those either recently, but that doesn't mean teams are having much success kicking. Through five games, Tech's opponents are just 6-of-12 on field goal tries. They aren't particularly long attempts either. Teams have missed, in order, from 38, 40, 27, 37, 30 and 29 yards. The only thing I can come up with is that Beamer Ball is in the heads of opposing kickers, whether they have reason to be afraid in the modern era is another question.

5. Is the season riding on the outcome of this game?

Every ACC game is critical and the loser in this one will be 0-2 in conference play. While the Coastal division is really wide open yet again, it's extremely difficult to overcome that kind of start. The Hokies also have to worry about the tiebreaker with Georgia Tech. But that's getting ahead of ourselves. The Hokies could win or lose every single game left on the schedule. The only match up where I think, "Well, Tech should expect to win that one" is Wake Forest and that's far from a given.