While most of the fan base is still thinking how the Tar Heels could have lost to the Pirates a week ago, the team has been preparing for their next game, which is tomorrow in Blacksburg, the game scheduled to kick off at 12:30 p.m. EST, televised by the ACC Network. The UNC Football squad will be taking on Virginia Tech (4-1 & 1-0 in the ACC), who is playing quite well this season and is looking to avenge last season’s loss in Chapel Hill.
This is UNC & VT’s 36th meeting, but just the sixth time to be played in Blacksburg. Va Tech leads the series 18-10-6. Carolina’s 20-17 win in 2009 in Blacksburg was vacated due to NCAA penalty.
For head coach Larry Fedora it will be the first time in his career that he heads to Lane Stadium, and he has his work cut out for him as this is definitely a game between two teams going in opposite direction. And for North Carolina (1-3 & 0-1 in the ACC) the direction is definitely not the one that the squad wants. It’s been a bad week, after the loss to East Carolina, the squad had a players only meeting, followed by many reports that Bryn Renner has been walking around in a boot due to an injury.
Having said that… can the Heels get a win versus the Hokies? Most everyone, be it main stream media, bloggers, or the fans are mostly on the negative side of that thought. That huge chunk of people does include myself. However, there could be a way to see North Carolina taking this one, and while it is a long shot, isn’t it why “they play the game”?
The main thing for the Heels will be the run game. Being able to get some yardage, so that it takes some pressure off of their senior quarterback. who leads the conference with 279.3 passing yds per game, while stopping a “run first” offense like the one Va Tech has. Which brings us right to the second point: the lines. The offensive line needs to get openings for whomever is running the ball as well as protect its QB, while on the defensive side, those young men need to tackle properly from the first whistle to the last. I am not sure I can count how many plays last weekend where three or more Heels defenders missed mistackled and let the opposition gain more and more yards.
Of course we can not think about Carolina winning and not talk about Renner, who is one of six players “coming home” as they are from the state of Virginia. He is going to have to keep the team under control, moving the chain, staying away from turnovers, and most of all keep the UNC D off the field so they can be fresh for when they are on the gridiron. While all of this was pretty simple to spell out, it is going to be a lot more difficult to do against Virginia Tech’s defense.
You truly have to be an optimist to give Carolina a chance in this game, and even if they are but a touchdown underdog against Virginia Tech, plenty feel that this game could get ugly if the Heels do not play close to a perfect game. The head coach for the Heels feels that the team has been working well…
“We’ve had two really good days of practice. Today was better than yesterday as it should be. The game plan is in so guys felt better about it. We had some good energy today with good competition,” Coach Fedora says.
But is working well enough for this game, or for the rest of the season? I do not think so, and while I know no one wants to hear this… this game could easily be replay of what UNC Football did against Georgia Tech… where the effort was there, the chances were there, but in the end it was a loss on the schedule. And this could easily be said over and over for the remaining eight games this campaign.
Could it be phantomed that coach Fedora’s squad can get a win in Blacksburg? Sure, but the chances are slim to none and it will take a great game by the Heels and a bad one by the Hokies in order for this to happen. On the other hand, I was very surprised that with two squads so different right now just a seven point spread must say something as well.
With most of the pre-season’s hopes shattered now the Tar Heels are playing for something else… a .500 record and a bowl game appearance. And all of that starts tomorrow, while a win might not be in the card, if the team can begin to turn it around, coach Fedora and his squad might just be able to find the 5 wins needed to play in December.