Carolina travels to Blacksburg in a game where a win means the ACC Coastal title goes to the Heels. Carolina will play the Hokies in Frank Beamer's last home game and Virginia Tech is expected to play an emotional game in a packed house on Saturday. As with their last few seasons, the Hokies are not particularly impressive this season, sitting at 5-5 and needing one more win to secure bowl eligibility.
Virginia Tech is lead by Senior quarterback Michael Brewer. Brewer missed a lot of the season with an injury he sustained in the season opener. Brewer has been back for about a month now and he's been pretty average so far. Brewer has completed 59.1% of his passes this year with 8 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. His interceptions have all been in the past month and Brewer has only broken 200 yards once, in four overtimes against Duke. When he drops back to pass Brewer's top targets are Isaiah Ford, Cam Phillips and Bucky Hodges. Ford and Phillips are the every down receivers while Hodges stands out as the deep threat. Brewer is typically a conservative passer and only averages 7.38 yards per attempt.
Virginia Tech is a run heavy team, running the ball on 59.3% of their plays. The Hokies have a clear hierarchy at running back; Tavon McMillian acts as the primary running back while Trey Edmunds, Sam Rogers and J.C. Coleman will all sub in at times. Edmunds is a really good running back, averaging 5.5 yards per carry and collecting 5 touchdowns this year. Edmunds, Rogers and Coleman are all similar replacements who are not nearly as explosive.
Virginia Tech wins games on defense. The Hokies are the #25 defense in the country in terms of total yards and are especially good against the pass, #7 in the country allowing only 170.9 yards per game. The Hokies are a mediocre run defense however, 64th in the country allowing 165.8 yards per game on the ground. Virginia Tech have won games with defense when they have won in conference play. The Heels' offense will need to stay sharp if they want to win the game.
Take the Air Out of the Crowd Early:
The crowd in Blacksburg will be as energized as they have ever been in Beamer's last game. The Heels should get out to an early lead and then keep piling on to deflate the crowd. If the fans lose their energy, then the Hokies will get down on themselves and Carolina could get an easy road to the division crown.
Make Brewer Throw the Ball:
Virginia Tech is not built to come from behind or to throw frequently to pick up chunks of yardage. The Heels should load the box and put Des Lawrence and M.J. Stewart in single coverage with a single high safety. If Carolina takes the run away early then Virginia Tech will have to work to adjust and throw more which will make the game much harder for them.
Carolina is favored, and the ranked team against the unranked team. The Heels need to avoid mistakes and play up to their potential. If they do that then they should not have an issue dispatching Virginia Tech the way they have dispatched Miami and Duke in the past two weeks.