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UNC vs. Virginia Tech: X-Factor

This will remain an X-Factor until it isn’t.

Syndication: The Fayetteville Observer Luke Johnson / USA TODAY NETWORK

In the aftermath of the disappointing loss to Notre Dame, the North Carolina Tar Heels coaching staff did not have many answers for the defensive woes this season.

Defensive coordinator Gene Chizik had the following to say about performance during the game versus practice:

You have to be able to adapt and adjust to those on game day. And sometimes we’ve been good at that, and sometimes we haven’t. So you can’t put it on a player or a position. It starts with us as coaches, me first, to be able to get these things done and pass them down to our guys so that we can play consistently. And that’s not happening at a very good rate right now. So we’re working day and night to fix those issues. And I feel very confident we can get it done.

Alright, so the coaching staff is working day and night to fix the issues on defense.

Since the Tar Heels are sixth from last in the FBS in total defense, it may be time to blow it up and start over, right?


I’m just never going to be that guy that says “I’m not happy with the results, so let’s blow it up and start over.” I think that’s unrealistic. I think it’s better to tweak and continue to try to stay on a consistent track to get the product we want. We want the product to look like the first quarter looked. That’s the bottom line. And we know we have it in us. We believe in the players that we can get that done. Has it happened yet? No, it has not. But we’re gonna keep working to make sure that the consistency is eventually there.

Okay, so maybe blowing things up and starting over is not the best approach for a team that, despite the awful defensive performance, is 3-1.

So, what are these tweaks needed for the upcoming game against Virginia Tech?


Well, we haven’t really talked about that. We’re still in the mix of evaluating and assessing Virginia Tech. I expect us to play much better Saturday.

Well, if he does not know, why should we?

Here’s the bottom line: the defense must improve or the rest of 2022 will just be a long and disappointing drop to the cellar of the ACC.

This weekend’s game, pending weather conditions that make it impossible to throw the ball, will be another measuring stick for the defense.

Both Chizik and head coach Mack Brown harped on the run defense from last weekend.

Virginia Tech enters this weekend 110 out of 131 teams in rushing offense. The Hokies are averaging 112 yards per game on the ground.

Out of the myriad of issues on defense, let’s choose this one as the X-Factor: can UNC hold VT to their rushing average on Saturday?

Yes, just hold a team to their average as an X-Factor.

A seemingly reasonable goal, but so important to this season that this is “a variable in a given situation that could have the most significant impact on the outcome.”

As teased in the header, these defensive issues will continue to be the talking points until they are no longer costing the team games.