clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Preview Virginia Tech Hokies vs. the Carolina Tar Heels

New, 2 comments

The weather looks like it’s not going to be a huge factor in Saturday’s game with the Tar Heels of UNC. The big issue is THE TAR HEELS of UNC. They are a seriously good football team with a high scoring, dangerous offense, a quarterback garnering national plaudits, and a deep receiver corps. Looks like Bud’s going to have his hands full.

NCAA Football: North Carolina at Virginia Tech
Getting to the QB, Ekanem and Motuapuaka are on it again this season.
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Now that it looks like the big storm might be some rain and lesser winds, the first big consequential game of the Tech ACC season will get underway in Chapel Hill as planned. The Tar Heels have been a seriously painful opponent of the past two decades. Okay, time for the history before the present to put a few things into perspective. Before World War II ended, the VPI vs Carolina football matchup was old and hard fought. The school’s football teams first took to the gridiron when the field was actually laid out in a grid, before Teddy Roosevelt reformed the sport and the forward pass existed. That early era of football (1895-1911) resulted in five scoreless ties. That might seem funny but considering that football was an almost unregulated game with a loose evolving set of rules and play structures we are talking about something akin to a rolling wrestling match over a leather bladder on a field. Someone cue Andy Griffith’s "And They Call it Football" with meddah’s and punkins… Only he could have been describing a leather helmet era slug fest between Carolina and Tech.

Well that was then, and this is now, and after a 50 year break in the annual action between 1947 (the 1946 game was a 14-14 Tie, ironically) and 1997 where we were embarrassed like our first game, and then a seven season wait (because 1997 was a Bowl game played on January 1, 1998) before we could grab a measure of revenge. We would win five in a row as we entered the ACC on a dominant note, between 2004 and 2008, and then lost a 2009 Swine Flu ridden Thursday night game that yours truly took time off from work to attend. We won’t talk about officiating or the relative exhaustion of a good portion of the student population.

Suffice it to say that since 2004, we are 9-3 over the Tar Heels, and even in their glory last season and our mediocrity it took them an unmatched field goal in overtime to beat us 27-30 in a tight game where an inconsistent and mistake prone Hokie squad still almost managed to pull off a win against a team that was, not only ranked (12), but in the playoff conversation.

That is, as we need to say, in the past. We have a new head coach, a new offense, and fresh air flowing in the more traditional Hokie domains of dominance like Defense and Special Teams. The Fuente Era of Virginia Tech Football promises to provide Larry Fedora and his Tar Heels with an additional challenge to their game plan mix.

Fedora is more than up to the challenge. Since is coaching debut on the Carolina sideline, the Heels have gone from an ACC mediocrity to a Coastal championship team and solid top 25 poll rankings. This season, as we have noted earlier in the week, Tech is in need of a "signature" win.

Carolina’s overall record is the same as ours, 4-1. Their ACC record is 100% better at 2-0 to our 1-0, but there are more than a few football team-shippers who will tell you that it’s 200% better since the Tar Heels handed Florida State a full measure of a football game and a one point loss. We will see if that’s a significant opponent, or as many have thought FSU is vastly over-rated this season, and definitely won’t be finishing in the lead of the Atlantic Division in December. Time will tell about the remainder of the ‘Noles’ season will continue at their current pace; the Hokies, even if we can top the Coastal will not play them this season. In any case, we are here about the UNC Tar Heels.

The away game presents some issues with the potential (though greatly lessening) weather problems. What it really comes down to, is can the Virginia Tech Defense contain the Carolina offense? Tar Heel starting QB Mitch Trubisky is garnering some Heisman interest. He’s also providing some story material for various sports outlets in regard to his play and leadership in general. Trubisky is a solid quarterback with a good team surrounding him.

Taking a look at the Yahoo Sports Summaries for the season, the Tar Heels have generated less than 100 yards of rushing per game. It seems to score points; however, at 13 total touchdowns four of which are Mtich Trubisky’s. The Tar Heels have more than made up for their low yardage running game by passing the rock around using Trubisky’s arm. He has 1711 yards at an almost 10 yard average catch. You’ll notice a critical stat in the Passing box, INT, Trubisky has no picks. The yardage is significant, but it’s combined with the reality that even though Ryan Switzer is his main target averaging nearly 115 yards per game, Trubisky spreads the ball around to most of his receiving corps. Six receivers have scored touchdowns this season.

Passing

Player

G

Comp

Att

Pct

Yds

Y/A

Y/G

TD

Int

Long

Sack

YdsL

QBRat

Mitch Trubisky

5

133

175

76.0

1711

9.8

342.2

13

0

75

10

56

182.6

Nathan Elliott

1

5

6

83.3

30

5.0

30.0

0

0

20

0

0

125.3

Rushing

Player

G

Rush

Yds

Y/G

Avg

Long

TD

Elijah Hood

5

67

338

67.6

5.0

62

4

T.J. Logan

5

36

258

51.6

7.2

35

5

Mitch Trubisky

5

31

56

11.2

1.8

39

4

Khris Francis

2

7

21

5.3

3.0

16

0

Ryan Switzer

4

1

7

1.4

7.0

7

0

Receiving

Player

G

Rec

Yds

Y/G

Avg

Long

TD

Ryan Switzer

4

47

587

117.4

12.5

75

2

Austin Proehl

1

19

269

53.8

14.2

44

1

Bug Howard

5

18

261

52.2

14.5

46

3

Mack Hollins

5

13

252

50.4

19.4

71

4

T.J. Logan

5

9

124

24.8

13.8

32

2

Thomas Jackson

4

9

77

19.3

8.6

34

1

Elijah Hood

5

12

47

9.4

3.9

18

0

Carl Tucker

3

4

39

13.0

9.8

12

0

Khris Francis

2

3

32

8.0

10.7

20

0

Jake Bargas

1

1

23

23.0

23.0

23

0

Jordan Cunningham

1

1

20

20.0

20.0

20

0

Anthony Ratliff-Williams

1

1

6

6.0

6.0

6

0

The one thing that you have to notice, though, is the number of points that each of the Tar Heel opponents have put up this season. The Tar Heels have put up big numbers against their opponents, but their opponents have also put up big numbers against the Heels. Their chart almost looks like a Big XII score grid. Even James Madison put up 28 points on the Carolina ‘D’. That is a significant issue to note, and one that might very well be a critical issue on the field for the game on Saturday.

Sep 3

vs

Georgia

L

33 - 24

Sep 10

@

Illinois

W

48 - 23

Sep 17

vs

James Madison

W

56 - 28

Sep 24

vs

Pittsburgh

W

37 - 36

Oct 1

@

Florida St.

W

37 - 35

Total

211 - 146

Carolina is a solid team with a high powered sling it around and downfield offense that puts up a ton of yards and points per game. Their defense allows serious points to be scored; however. There are two things that beat that sort of football team; outscore them without allowing their defense to get the critical stop, or slow down their offense enough to let yours win the game. Pitt’s defense doesn’t look as scary this season. FSU is a two loss team that is ranked where it is on pure fan momentum and program history. Georgia beat up Carolina in their season openers.

That part of the analysis is where the buck stops. The Virginia Tech Hokies can win this game. They have to be deaf to the crowd, and play defense. We might win in a shootout, we finally have the offense that we were looking for, but we don’t run much better than Carolina at the moment, and Jerod Evans is still a work in progress on the passing game. Evans is getting some attention at the national sports level, too.

All of that offense talk means Bud Foster’s defense is going to have to get to Trubisky. Stopping a slow-churn running game is not going to be too difficult. It’s that "sling it around for big yards and YACs" offense that we are going to have to cover. Of course there is the fundamental football concept that if the QB never gets the ball out; the receivers don’t become much of a problem.

Mitch Trubisky can run if he needs to, and he seems to be a serious part of their red zone scoring offense; but he’s a pocket passer with a pro-style West Coast-ish offense. Let’s see how Carolina’s offensive line handles the Foster/Wiles switching churning 8 starting quality player rotation in the revitalized Bear Front. #DBU is going to have to re-earn its reputation this coming Saturday.

The Hokies can win this football game. Carolina is the best opponent that we have seen this season. It presents some serious challenges that will have to be met in order to do it, though. All three phases need to be on the field in Chapel Hill on Saturday at 3:30 pm.

GO HOKIES!!!