Looking at their defense, the only weakness is the defensive line. Defensive tackle Quinton Coples (43 tackles, 6.5 sacks) is by far their best player along the line. He could give our offensive line fits, I'd expect Coach Newsome doubles him more often than not. As a whole, the UNC d-line doesn't get pressure and isn't very good against the run. Luckily for Carolina the linebacker corp has picked up the slack and has limited teams from completely running wild.
Speaking of the LBs, they have four guys who play major minutes, I would expect Zach Brown, Bruce Carter, Quan Sturdivant, and Kevin Reddick to play on Sundays sooner or later. There's a very good chance Carolina uses Bruce Carter to spy Tyrod Taylor, that worked very well last year.
The secondary is almost as stout as the linebackers. With cornerback Kendric Burney back, they are now at full strength. The second corner Mywan Jackson is a big drop off from Burney and should be picked on.
It's imperative the Hokies don't go down two scores early. These guys aren't NC State or Georgia Tech. They are well coached and strong in the back seven, big pass plays won't come easy. Not having David Wilson's or Dyrell Roberts' speed on the field to stretch or at least put pressure on the athletic Tar Heels is a loss.
Overwhelm TJ Yates. Make him throw off his back foot, make him think about where the heat is coming from next. Left tackle James Hurst is a true freshman and he is going to be a stud, maybe as soon as next year, but right now I expect Bud to dial up pressure on his side and see how he handles it.
Expect Bud to have the defense lined up in the 4-2-5 90% of the time. Depending on if he is healthy, either Antone Exum or Kyle Fuller will play nickelback.
Offensive coordinator John Shoop likes to dink and dunk and run out of various formations. As noted by Michael Felder, he likes to go over the top once the defense is focused underneath. Shoop is very good at using motion to gain an extra blocker for a WR running a sweep to the edge. Rover Davon Morgan and whoever plays nickelback are going to have to make stops on those plays.
The key to UNC running the ball isn't whoever they dig up to carry the rock. It's on their offensive line to beat VT's defenders and give their backs room to pick up a few yards here and there. Even a limited successful ground game makes it less likely Bud dials up blitz after blitz.
This is one of the scrappiest teams in the country. They've had 14 players suspended over the course of the season. Most thought they would mail it in early, but they've battled all the way. They've only been blown out of one game, 3 weeks ago at Miami 10-33. Against the 'Canes quarterback T.J. Yates (2,312 yards 15 TDs 4 INTs 66.4%) turned in his worst performance of the season throwing for only 140 yards and two drive killing interceptions. Over the last month six suspended players including starters Deunta Williams, Da'Norris Searcy, and Kendric Burney have been cleared to play and the Heels are making a push for Charlotte. We don't want to test their resolve.
UNC is one of the few teams on our schedule that matches or exceeds our athleticism. We need to play smart and technically sound.
UNC receiver Dwight Jones has done more than just fill in for the suspended Greg Little. He's developed into a reliable big play option for T.J. Yates and his 79.5 yards per game are good enough for 32nd nationally. Most of those yards (612) have come over the last four games. Right now his Tecmo Bowl rating would be "Gone Ham". The secondary must knock him around and lock him down.
We haven't blocked a kick against UNC since 2006 when Josh Morgan blocked a David Wooldridge punt.
"Since Paul Johnson took over Georgia Tech in 2008, ACC teams are 6-10 in the game after they've faced the Jackets." - F4H
Defensive ends James Gayle and J.R. Collins are going to have to step it up in place of the injured Chris Drager (head injury).
UNC will be without leading rusher Johnny White (collarbone, 720 yards 7 TDs). Expect to see a combination of the experienced, but dinged up, Shaun Draughn and sophomore newcomer Hunter Furr. Furr carried the ball 3 times (4, 12, 11 yards) on UNC's winning touchdown drive last week against Florida State.
This is a winnable games as long as we don't turn the ball over and can play consistently excellent football for 60 minutes.