After the much needed bye week, UNC will take the field at Kenan Stadium in an effort to break another losing streak to an ACC opponent. Two weeks ago it was the five game skid versus NC State. This week the Heels will attempt to stop a three game slide against Georgia Tech and in doing so remain in the driver's seat for a first place finish in the Coastal Division.
For obvious reasons, Georgia Tech presents a unique problem for any school that faces them. The triple-option offense is tough to defend and since teams do not see it that often, preparing for it is equally difficult. That is unless a team has a bye week prior to playing Georgia Tech. Teams that have extra time to prepare for the Yellow Jacket offense usually end up winning. In fact, Georgia Tech's record facing teams coming off a bye is downright abysmal. The extra preparation time has proven to be very useful to overcome a rarely seen offense. In UNC's case, facing a team that prefers to run the ball more than pass it is a nice break considering the state of the Tar Heel pass defense. However, when said team runs the triple-option, I am not sure UNC wouldn't rather face a passing offense.
In this match-up you have teams operating with polar opposite intentions where ball control is concerned. UNC and Larry Fedora's up-tempo offense, cares not for the time of possession whereas Paul Johnson's offense would keep the ball for an entire quarter if the officials allowed it. That puts a great deal of pressure on UNC to be efficient on the offensive side of the ball. Taking full advantage of every offensive series is paramount since Georgia Tech's ability to eat the clock means fewer possessions than UNC is accustomed to getting.
The good news for UNC is Georgia Tech's defense has struggled all season long, so much so Middle Tennessee State scored 42 on the Jackets. Tar Heel running back Giovani Bernard will look to add to his already impressive rushing totals in seven games this season and cross the 1000 yard barrier for a seconds straight season. Bernard is coming off 300-plus all purpose yards against NC State and is in position to become UNC's first ACC Player of the Year in over 30 seasons. All that remains is for Bernard to post three solid games to give himself a legitimate shot at the award.
More than that, UNC would love to stir the pot by finishing first in the Coastal Division. Despite the ACC's decision to not recognize the Tar Heels as division champions and the bowl ban keeping them from the title game, the players and coaches are still plenty motivated. Coming off the bye week, UNC faces three winnable games against teams that are all below .500 for the season so far. Regardless of whether UNC's first place finished is recognized or not, 9-3 and 6-2 in the ACC is a fine way to start the Larry Fedora Era in Chapel Hill.
UNC 44 Georgia Tech 32