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Virginia Tech football: UNC is a much different team than it was a year ago

The Hokies should have a big day on Saturday.

NCAA Football: Virginia Tech at East Carolina
Virginia Tech WR Cam Phillips
James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

After a much-deserved week off, the Virginia Tech Hokies return to action this weekend to take on division rival North Carolina. While last year’s battle was for a spot at the top of the ACC’s Coastal Division, this year’s contest is quite different. The Hokies are 5-1 on the season and 1-1 in ACC play, while the Tar Heels sit at 1-6 and 0-4 in the conference.

The bye week came at an appropriate time for the Hokies. Star receiver Cam Phillips got an extra week off and it appears he will play on Saturday. Also, running back Steven Peoples should return to action. However, another receiver in C.J. Carroll will likely miss this weekend’s game. The Hokies hope Sean Savoy and Eric Kumah continue to blossom. And we could also see Phil Patterson this weekend, too.

As for Carolina, remember last fall when the Hokies went to Chapel Hill in the middle of a hurricane with first place in the Coastal on the line? A lot has changed since that time. The Tar Heels’ only win this season came against an Old Dominion team the Hokies also beat. Four of UNC’s six losses have come by 10 or more points. And there won’t be any hurricane excuses this time around.

UNC, which is known for its high-powered offense, ranks No. 98 in total offense. Defensively, the Heels rank No. 113 in total defense. Josh Jackson could have a huge day this weekend.

On offense, the Hokies need to continue to trust Travon McMillian. He’s coming off another solid performance and when he’s on, he is Tech’s best back. With Duke and Miami coming up soon, Tech needs to find a consistent ground game. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to sprinkle in some Coleman Fox. Fox has looked like Tech’s best change-of-pace back thus far in limited opportunities.

While the Hokies have started slow on offense this year in several games, don’t expect that this weekend. Head coach Justin Fuente wants to put on a show against UNC. And it is homecoming weekend, of course.

Virginia Tech should put a beatdown on North Carolina this weekend, which means we get to see more of the Hokies’ official Twitter account trolling the Heels for another year.