Butch Davis has had a checkered couple of years facing off against Georgia Tech. In his first season, UNC came up short against a soon-to-be-fired Chan Gailey team, losing 27-25 despite recovering four Tech fumbles. The following season, in his first look at Paul Johnson's triple option, Davis led the Heels to a 28-7 win, seriously irking Johnson in the process. The Yellow Jackets got their revenge last year, ruining UNC's 3-0 record with 317 yards on the ground and a defense good enough to contain Carolina's hapless offense.
This season, Tech has struggled a bit, primarily in two areas. One, without early-NFL entry Demaryius Thomas the Yellow Jackets have yet to find a go-to reciever. QB Josh Nesbitt has only completed 6 passes in 21 attempts; the offense is almost entirely run-based. Seven different players ran the ball against Kansas with most of the carries coming from Nesbitt and senior Anthony Allen. The bad news is that UNC as never been able to stop this team on the run, giving up 317 yards last year on the ground and 326 the year before in the win, and those were with a defensive line that didn't lose players to various scandals. Turnovers were the key to stopping Tech in '08, and the Yellow Jackets have gotten more careful with the ball since then.
The second weakness for Georgia Tech is the defense, now in their first season in shifting from a 4-3 scheme to a 3-4. They haven't quite mastered the transition yet, as the 28 points Kansas put up on them attests, which means another solid passing game from T.J. Yates like two weeks ago, paired with a running game that now includes Shaun Draughn, has a chance of keeping the Heels in the game. After all, how much experience could the new defensive coordinator have against the Heels anyway?
Oh yeah, it's Al Groh. Formerly of Virginia, who could do nothing right the last few years except beat North Carolina four years running. And holding the last two teams to 13 and 3 points, respectively. Sure, that last game came at the depths of the offensive line woes, and it takes a few years to recruit your players to play your defense, but still. It doesn't bode as well as I'd like. Carolina's had longer to prepare for this game, and typically does well coming off those sorts of rest, but this game should go down to the wire. I'd like to think UNC can pull it out, but I don't see it happening right now.