Last year’s debacle against Georgia Tech still lingers around me like a stench I can’t wash away. My parents live in a 55-&-over community in Sugar Hill, GA, less than an hour’s drive from Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. I flew down to visit them last September and bought tickets to the game, assuring them that Tech was trash, Carolina would win, and we’d all have a good time.
I was wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. But oh, how the turntables have turned.
Georgia Tech is still trash, although after firing Geoff Collins, they’ve transformed from wet trash on a hot afternoon to a mere dumpster that was emptied, but a few of the bags leaked and there’s still some trash juice on the curb.
Carolina—inexplicably 9-1 and already locked in to a spot in the ACC Championship game— can either 1.) do Carolina things and make this game a contest or 2.) lock Drake Maye in for a Heisman Trophy invitation and stomp the Yellow Jackets. What do you think the Tar Heels will do?
Georgia Tech is extremely unlucky. They are without starting quarterback Jeff Sims, who last year ran for 128 yards (on just 10 carries!) and three touchdowns, throwing for 112 yards and another touchdown whenever UNC’s safeties bit on a fake QB draw. It was infuriating. Fortunately, Sims is out with a foot injury, although reading between the tea leaves, there might be some shenanigans going on in Atlanta that we’re not privy to.
Back-up quarterback Zach Pyron is also out. He broke his collar bone in the loss to Miami last weekend. Third-string quarterback Zach Gibson volunteers as tribute, and he will have a tough hill to climb. Miami got four interceptions against the Jackets (two to Pyron, two to Gibson, and three went to Kamren Kinchens) and the last one was a 99-yard pick-six when Gibson threw from the Miami 12-yard line.
Two of Kinchens’ interceptions were the kind that Cam Kelly has been able to scoop in the past two seasons, so look for him to cause trouble, especially since Gibson does not throw downfield that often, so Kelly can jump some routes if he isn’t lined up too deep. This would also be a great day for Tony Grimes and Storm Duck to add to Carolina’s turnover stats. It’ll be important for them to give UNC extra possessions as they run into two tougher defenses to end the season.
Success is not guaranteed, nothing in life is. But if Carolina comes out with intensity, this game should not be too different from the Virginia Tech game. Expect the offense to come out guns blazing, as Georgia Tech offers Drake Maye the perfect opportunity to pile on points in front of plenty of viewers for the odd 5:30pm EST kick-off.
The defense, as always, needs to do a little better, but without a tremendous threat at quarterback, they can focus on stopping the run and getting off the field on third down.
Prediction: UNC 49, Georgia Tech 14