Consider this your primer for UNC's match-up with Virginia Tech this weekend. The guys over at the always excellent Hokie blog Gobbler Country were kind enough to hit us up for a little Q&A action. You can check out my answers to their questions here. Their answers to my questions after the jump.
1. How difficult will the VT defense make it for T.J. Yates and the UNC passing game?
GC: Well, I hope they make it very difficult for him because I think that will be the key to the game. We're missing our second-best defensive end in Chris Drager, who was shaken up at the end of the Georgia Tech game. That puts more pressure on Steven Friday, who has steadily improved throughout the year.
The good thing for Tech is it has a very good secondary that has nine picks in five conference games. I was excited about this secondary coming into the year and they've been one of the big reasons were currently on this winning streak. The big thing to watch with be Rashad Carmichael (or whoever) when they're matched up with Dwight Jones. Jones has a tendency to turn short passes into big gains, and Tech's had some problems with missed tackles this year.
2. How big a blow is losing David Wilson for this game, especially considering UNC's notable issues in kick coverage?
GC: It's a big blow because it's compounded by the loss of wide receiver Dyrell Roberts, who was the other kick returner. You're going to have two guys back there with very little kickoff return experience in running backs Tony Gregory and Ryan Williams.
The Hokies have had a lot of success with kick returns this year, but with both Wilson and Roberts out, it's going to be a complete unknown in this game.
3. Virginia Tech has three players with around 500 yards rushing and that does not include Ryan Williams. Is there a rhyme or reason to who/how Frank Beamer uses players in the rushing game?
GC: Well, you have to remember Williams missed four and a half games and only got a handful of carries against Duke. Running backs coach Billy Hite handles the RB rotation and usually goes with the hot hand late in the game. Williams and Evans will both get their share of carries in the first half and the one that's find holes will be the guy late.
Williams struggled early in the year and against Duke with finding holes and getting in rhythm. He looked better against Georgia Tech and hopefully he'll continue to improve this week. He's still not quite 100 percent, though, so I wouldn't be surprised if we see more Darren Evans in this game.
4. The Hokies have responded with seven straight wins after the inexplicable loss to James Madison. Is there any worry this will be a letdown game?
GC: I don't think it will be a letdown game simply because of what happened in Blacksburg last year. The team understands how good the Heels are, how good T.J. Yates is and how tough this game will be. There are, of course, the stats about how teams perform the week after facing Georgia Tech's grinding flexbone offense. It helped do in the Hokies last year despite having more than a week off because there were injury issues.
There are injury issues coming into this game, but mainly on the offensive side. Some guys on defense were banged up going into the GT game and now Drager is out, but on the offensive side we're going to miss Wilson and Roberts in a big way. We're a banged up football team right now. However, if UNC wins it won't be because it was a letdown game or because of the injuries, it'll just be because UNC played better.
5.Which VT player could be an X factor in this game?
GC: To me, the term "X factor" refers to a guy you might not think of at first to be a potential difference maker like Tyrod Taylor or Williams. I'll go with Jayron Hosley, who's been kind of quiet since he had three picks against NC State. He needs to have a big game against the Tar Heels' very talented receiving corps.
Hosley's also the punt returner and UNC will certainly put him to the test since it's been the best in conference play at punt coverage. Odds are if Hosley makes a difference, it will be at cornerback against the UNC receivers.