I suppose it could have been worse. And not to use one of the most famous sports cliches but the score is not really indicative of how this game unfolded. The Hokies come into Kenan Stadium and walk away with a 35-10 win. On several fronts it was a marked improvement over last week but playing VT can bring out some fairly sub-standard performances, especially on offense. In reality the only question I have is:
WHERE WAS THIS FREAKIN' DEFENSE LAST WEEK?!?!
Ahem...sorry, that happens sometimes. Anyway, away we go with the post-morteum.
What I Liked
The defense. Which is strange because VT put 35 points on the board. Last week against Rutgers, the Scarlet Knights had 22 first downs and 217 yards rushing. This week? UNC held Virginia Tech to only nine first downs and 224 yards total offense. As for the points VT scored one TD on an interception return. Two touchdowns were scored from the one yard line following a blocked punt and intercpetion which gave the Hokies the ball on the goal line. The Hokies two other touchdowns came on drives of 42 and 55 yards mostly by VT's running back Brandon Ore. There still seemed to be a lot of missed tackles, especially in efforts to contain Ore but based on last week's performance this was a great day for this defensive unit. Granted, Virginia Tech does not generally field high powered offenses put this defensive performance of the Tar Heels was more in line with the preseason expectations. Had this defense made an effort to show up last week, UNC could be 1-1 right now.
What I Disliked
The quarterbacks. In other words this was a complete reversal of last week where the offense did good work and the defense was weak. Prior to the game I was concerned the VT speed on defense would hamper Joe Dailey, particularly if he decided to leave the pocket. VT did a good job containing the UNC running game holding the Heels to 89 yards. The passing game was, well, atrocious. Dailey had two interceptions in the first half, one which led to one of those short VT touchdowns. Since Dailey struggled, John Bunting decided to bring in Cam Sexton who looked timid and a little confused at times. Sexton also served up two interceptions also leading to an easy VT touchdown. And it should be noted that these interceptions were just minor mistakes but indicative of poor decisionmaking. Once Sexton went in the game, Bunting swapped the two QBs in and out, seemingly at random or based on how well they performed.
This is one of the major issues I have with a two QB system. I had envisioned the system playing to the respective strengths of the two QB as dictated by the opposing team and the game action. Unfortunately what I saw today seemed more like panicked substituting once the QB in the game started making mistakes. I suppose you might not know if Dailey or Sexton is the wrong choice to go against the team opposite yours on the field until they actually show signs of struggling. In today's game it was clear in the 1st half that Dailey was struggling so perhaps going to Sexton was a logical choice just to see how he performs. From that point on it seemed like the substution pattern became haphazard. Sexton came in for Dailey until Sexton struggled so they decided to go back to Dailey who stayed in until the game got out of hand at which point Sexton finished it out. In this fan's opinion the most important thing John Bunting can do is make sure the way this two-headed QB system is deployed pays careful attention to the confidence of each player as well as consistency throughout the rest of the offense. I would almost rather they stick with one player or commit to a rotation. The possibility of a QB change is bound to create some self-doubt for Dailey/Sexton as well as introduce chemistry issues with the offense as a whole leading to marked inconsistency.
Furman. I-AA. Must win. Not that a win is unexpected but anything can happen and Furman did beat UNC a few years back. UNC is now at 0-2 and needs this win to break the streak before heading to Death Valley to face a Clemson team that could very well be losers of two straight games if things go the same way at FSU as they did at Boston College. In other words, UNC is not winning at Clemson or at least will not have much in the way of hope heading down there. So the importance of the Furman game outside the usual need to win is also to get good performances from both sides of the ball. Confidence is a fragile thing and if the Heels can get at least one good game under their belt it could prove crucial in getting them on the right track before facing some of the more winnable games on their schedule.