Where: Lane Stadium, Blacksburg, VA
When: Saturday, September 29th, 12:00 PM
TV: None. Raycom/LF Regional; ESPN360 on the web
Records: UNC 1-3, 0-1 ACC; VPI 3-1; 0-0 ACC
I find it interesting the Hokies have yet to play an ACC opponent. I guess UNC qualifies as a good opener for VT.
As far as what this game means for UNC, I think it is important to see how the Heels respond after having had their clocks cleaned in Tampa. T.J. Yates had his first true "bad" game with four INTs, the defense could not stop USF from basically doing anything they wanted on offense and the running game, save Ryan Houston, was non-existent. From UNC's perspective those are the three facets of this team to watch more closely. The Hokies are probably a better defensive unit the USF team which was constantly in Yates face and did a great job of covering the receivers down field. I am convinced how well Yates acquits himself against the Hokies will tell you something about his character though another tough game moving the ball would not necessarily be surprising given the VT defense.
This game might tells us whether Ryan Houston has truly emerged as the go to guy at running back or if this season will be a lost one from the backfield. Again, with such a tough defense on the other side, it would not be surprising for the running game to struggle(again) but Houston is a tough, bruising back who can make holes when the offensive line fails to open them. Defensively speaking the Hokie offense has been dreadful so if the Heels can come up with a solid game stopping VT when they have the ball it at least puts them in the game.
The X factor with playing VT is the special teams and their ability to register at least one score from punts or kickoffs. UNC has had a mixed bag on special teams with Brandon Tate providing good returns and the kicking part of the kicking game working. The execution of simple things like snaps and general coverage of kickoffs has been less than desirable.
The best case for UNC is for the defense to make some big plays to keep the Hokie offense in check, perhaps get a score or two off the passing game and have Tate uncork one. UNC's inability to control the time of possession without a running game makes pulling an upset in this case much harder. I think VT has enough issues on offense to leave the door ajar but I am more interested in the demeanor of the Heels in this game win or lose.
VT 24 UNC 13