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Good, Bad, and Ugly Report: Virginia Tech

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Six turnovers. Only one catch by one of the ACC's top receivers. Over 400 yards of total offense surrendered. Bizarre penalties and official rulings. And yet UNC was not blown out. Sadly, that final fact may be one of the "good" highlights in this week's GBU report.

The game was a tale of two halves: the first half, where UNC moved the ball well, held Virginia Tech to a trio of field goals, and held a slim halftime lead; and the second half, where UNC had five turnovers, back-breaking penalties, and blown and broken defensive coverages.

In the end, the Hokies rose to the moment and the Tar Heels did not. It was an unfortunate step backwards in a season where things had generally been moving forward from week to week.

Although this may be weighted more towards the back end, here is the GBU report:

GOOD

Anthony Elzy: Elzy had 184 yards of total offense despite not getting many touches for late in the 2nd and most of the 3rd quarters. But like much of the rest of Carolina's day, his effort will be defined by a goal-line fumble that was kicked out-of-bounds by VT but by rule resulted in a touchback. The good news is that his effort likely means Ryan Houston's redshirt is safe.

BAD

Dwight Jones: One week after a record-setting performance, UNC's top receiver was held to one catch for only four yards. VT took away Carolina's vertical passing game and two of T.J. Yates' interceptions came from trying to force the ball to Jones.

Defensive front: I understand that most of the first half was spent with UNC only rushing four while dropping seven into coverage, but the defensive line got no push and barely made the Hokie linemen break a sweat. There were times where the five VT O-linemen had the four UNC D-linemen stood straight up like a practice drill.

Ryan Taylor and Ed Barham: Normally reliable receivers for Yates, Taylor was skunked and Barham had three catches for 22 yards. In other words, they combined for as many catches (3) as penalties (3).

T.J. Yates: He really could go in either category, but Yates still completed more than 50% of his passes for nearly 200 yards while getting zero help from his receivers.  On the other hand, he threw as many interceptions (4) in this game as he has thrown all season (4) and made really bad decisions. What are you going to do?

UGLY

Third quarter: UNC suffered a complete implosion on the field on both sides of the ball in the third quarter. It was interesting to watch in the same way that You Tube videos of skateboarders falling and racking their clusters are interesting to watch.

Defensive backs: Kendric Burney still does not seem to have it together after his long layoff, but Deunta Williams and Da'Norris Searcy stunk it up plenty as well. I saw more blown coverages between the three seniors in one half than I have in the past two years and before it was over, Williams and Burney were arguing and pointing fingers at each other. VT also made a concerted effort to throw at Jabari Price early and often, though the true freshman did make a great play in the end zone to save a TD.

Nuts and bolts: There are still too many little things that this team does wrong week in and week out that should be corrected by the 10th game. Nearly every game you can count on getting an illegal formation penalty, and this week UNC lost a key first down because an otherwise eligible receiver was covered up and therefore ineligible. These kinds of mental issues fall directly on the position coaches and coordinators and should be cleaned up in practice.

As bad as it stings to lose and look bad in the process, UNC is still where the pundits predicted they would be before the NCAA and academic unpleasantness began - looking up in the standings at VT, Georgia Tech, and Miami, plus a loss to a top-10 LSU team. Yet there is still plenty to play for in this season, including a chance to throw a big kink in NC State's big-game hopes and the ever-present opportunity to remind Duke they are a basketball school. A 2-0 finish puts this team at 8 regular-season wins for a 3rd straight year, which is the kind of consistency this program has dreamed of since the Mack Brown days.