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UNC vs. Georgia Tech: Game Preview

The Tar Heels are ramblin’ south, hoping to prevent a wreck.

NCAA Football: Mississippi at Georgia Tech Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The best thing about college football is that after a humiliating defeat, there is usually an opportunity to beat up on the next opponent to regain dignity and momentum. UNC will look to do just that in Atlanta, as they attempt to break a two-year losing streak to Georgia Tech.

The scheduling gods did Carolina no favors, giving the Yellow Jackets a night home game when a sleepy noon contest would have better suited the visitors. No matter. The Tar Heels will have to show out on Saturday under the lights.

The night time is the right time.

Georgia Tech dropped to 3-4 (2-2 ACC) after losing to Boston College at home, coming off their bye week. Tech and BC were actually in a tight back-and-forth contest until the fourth quarter, when the Eagles pulled away, thanks in large part to two interceptions thrown by Georgia Tech quarterback Haynes King.

You hate to waste a bye week followed by a home game against a .500 opponent with bad fourth quarter play. The bad news for Georgia Tech? Carolina is outscoring its opponents in the second halves of games 104-68. That means that the Tar Heels are usually good at making halftime adjustments. I say usually because we apparently forgot how to do that against Virginia. Mack Brown has acknowledged this, so I have to believe the Heels won’t make the same mistake with Georgia Tech as they did with the Cavaliers.

As THB editor Brandon pointed out yesterday in “Three Things to Watch,” Haynes King is more of a run threat than a prototypical pocket passer. If UNC can get to the fourth quarter with at least a two-score lead, it should force the Yellow Jackets to throw more. It’s imperative that the Tar Heels hold King to form, and not make him look like the second coming of Peyton Manning. If Carolina can pick off a pass (or two!), even better.

Yesterday, Brandon talked about Georgia Tech’s woeful defense. Let’s talk about running back Omarion Hampton’s emergence this season.

Last year, true freshman Omarion Hampton was like a pit bull puppy running on huge paws with a small body. It wasn’t quite right, but you could tell that he would grow into those paws. Hampton has cured the fumble issues that got him a pretty firm seat on the bench last season in favor of Elijah Green, and hasn’t looked back since. Hampton played in 12 games last season, and in just seven this year, he’s eclipsed his previous effort all major statistical categories with (potentially) seven games left to go.

Underutilized against Virginia, Hampton was a steady-Eddie for Carolina, churning out 5.9 ypc:

That quality is valuable for UNC, particularly if the defense takes a couple of body shots from Georgia Tech’s offense, as they are wont to do. Being able to control the clock while advancing the ball will keep the Heels on schedule, while giving the defense a rest.

If rest isn’t a priority, he also has the ability to drop a boatload of explosive plays at any moment, like he did against Miami:

Whatever the case, Omarion Hampton simply must be a featured piece of Chip Lindsey’s game plan at Georgia Tech, or I swear... by the old gods and the new, by the power of Grayskull, and anything else you can pile on, Mack Brown will have to find another offensive coordinator.