Bryan: Football is finally back. Lane Stadium is jam-packed for the first time since 2019. Can the Hokies match the energy of the crowd? Virginia Tech needs to come out and set the tone early. Hit Sam Howell. UNC Is breaking in new starters at wide receiver and running back. Don’t give Howell time to get in sync with his young pass-catchers. Easier said than done.
On offense, Tech needs a strong performance from Braxton Burmeister. Offensive coordinator Brad Cornelsen desperately needs a good game. He must find ways to utilize James Mitchell, Tre Turner, Tayvion Robinson and Raheem Blackshear in the passing game. The Hokies have too much talent on offense to struggle. UNC returns 10 starters on defense, so that group will be better than it has in recent seasons.
Jay: If you have read my ACC rankings and season review you know how highly I hold the Tar Heels. Nothing would make me happier than being wrong about UNC, but I genuinely believe that North Carolina is a dark horse candidate for the CFB Playoff. Others have a much more optimistic outlook regarding VT’s matchup against UNC, but the reality is that I simply don’t think we can beat he Heels. Sam Howell is arguably the best QB in the NCAA right now. On top of that, despite the absences, the Heels have depth and talent. Mack Brown has pulled off, at UNC, what we hoped Coach Fuente would have done at Virginia Tech. In my experience the most threatening and dangerous entities are those that have intent and ability. North Carolina has both. The Hokies have some talent. In fact, VT might have greater talent in certain positions, but taken as an aggregate I think UNC is more gifted. UNC struggles during a night game in Lane, in front of a sold-out crowd, but they walk away with the win.
Justin: I don’t think we’re more talented than the Tar Heels, but I think we’re closer than we give ourselves credit for. We have more experience at key positions, which matters a lot in an opening game, and our lack of depth won’t hurt is as much in September as it might in November. With the home crowd, a hungry team, and a staff that has a good track record in season openers, I’ll give it to the good guys in a high-ish scoring game. Ultimately, it’ll come down to whether our passing game is efficient, and if our pass rushers and DBs can make one or two game-changing plays. I like our odds in Lane. (Also actually wearing orange in the orange effect game just gives me good vibes).
John (Doing the Guest Poster Thing): The University of North Carolina ranked #10? Right, and I’m 6 and a half feet of silver haired scratch golfer... (absolutely not... maybe the silver hair) This is all preseason nonsense built off of everyone’s impression of the 2020 “season” which was more of a train wreck than any sort of real football season. Those discounting the personnel disaster that befell the Hokies the entire season are merely hunting for excuses to find extreme fault. There was one game where this team was relatively intact (and still missing players and coaches) during the 2020 fiasco and that was the UVA game. Hooker had a torn-up shoulder and Burmeister had a broken foot. Nearly 80% of the team had COVID during the year, much of that during critical practice and conditioning time. There was no Spring season with a revamped defensive staff, and an offense struggling for an identity. So, everyone should rationally write off 2020 as tragedy and refocus, from scratch, on this season.
Tech’s defense is largely intact. The secondary has critical experience, the linebackers are fully 2 deep, and the only “iffy” condition is the Defensive End depth. Defensive ends don’t get to Sam Howell, the Tackles and Linebackers are going to have to do that. The DE’s are containment and if they can do that job, someone might actually get into Howell’s face. The Tech offense isn’t the barn-burning scheme that everyone dreamed about in early 2016. It’s been nearly impossible to find and keep a good quarterback on the field. Burmeister returning and in full health is actually something rare in the Fuente era. We’ll see how he starts and how he plays. We have some formidable receiving talent at all three positions, and all three types (WR, TE, and RB). The right side of the O-Line looks new to many eyes, but there is only one “rookie” on the line, and he’s reportedly a beast.
Tech, on paper, is very capable of winning this football game. The sports pundit dismissal is to be expected. Mack Brown and Carolina are the darlings of the sports media at the moment. Brown is a sports media alumni, and his team has a good number of upper 3-star talent. Howell is a genuine threat every time he steps on the field, and Brown will have found some receiver talent to use Howell’s arm and quick release. Look for lots of 3 second drops to intermediate routes... and quarterback scrambles to save broken plays. But, AGAIN, the Hokies are quite capable of uncorking on this Carolina team to take out all of their frustrations and disappointments on them. Remember, this team beat up on UVA to close the COVID racked disaster of 2020. If that team comes back to Lane this evening... they’ll drub the Tar Heels, too.
There are three outcomes in this. Tech in a close one, Carolina in a blow out, or Tech in a blowout. (Well Carolina could win a close one like the wise guys have predicted, but something tells me that one is just not on the horizon.)
Which team shows? We’ll know by the end of the first Carolina possession.
What do you think?
Do the Hokies win tonight?
This poll is closed
Yes, it’s close but VT upsets UNC
No, it’s close but UNC survives and keeps their CFB playoff hopes alive.
No, it is a straight beat down. UNC dominates.
VT devastates UNC and sends a message to the ACC and college Football