This week's film review is going to be very heavily focused on the defense, especially a technique improvement and philosophy change from earlier weeks up front. However, there were some interesting things that I observed during the film review that I wanted to share.
1) North Carolina sold out with run blitzes, especially by their safeties. The running game had some struggles, especially in the first half. However, it was due more to the extra man coming into the box where there wasn't a blocker to account for the defender. That made UNC more vulnerable in the passing game. Once the drops left the equation, UNC was very vulnerable to the passing game with this approach.
2) When the offensive line did struggle, Yosh Nijman was often the culprit. Nijman overset on a pass protection and got off balance to allow a sack in the first half. Nijman also had several busts in the run game. The coaching staff noticed. At one point in the first half, Parker Osterloh replaced Nijman at tackle.
3) Braxton Pfaff and Eric Gallo really jumped out on the last scoring drive of the first half. Pfaff had a nice pancake block on a backside scoop on McMillian's inside zone run to open the drive. Teller did a great job of turning out the DT and Pfaff created the bubble by sealing the backside DT and then kept his feet going to finish the block. Gallo did a terrific job of getting outside on Cam Phillips record breaking catch to seal the DL inside. Nijman picked off the corner on the tunnel screen to pop Phillips free. Dalton Keene, Chris Cunningham, and McMillian had terrific blocks on the edge to almost spring Savoy for a TD on the jet sweep at the end of the half.
4) Jarrod Hewitt and House Gaines played their quickest, most physical game of the season. In my opinion, I would like to see Xavier Burke as the first option for the 4th DT in the rotation over Jimmie Taylor. Taylor gets moved out of his fit more easily. Burke has some twitch and is stronger at the point of attack.
5) It was a very small sample size, but Dylan Rivers sure looked the part with his size, speed, and pursuit during his late game cameo.
6) Most importantly, I thought Josh Jackson showed a ton of improvement this week. MJ Stewart and KJ Sails are solid corners. Jackson scanned the field, climbed the pocket, and drove the football to the right receiver early and often. I can't recall a "bad throw"- even the fade that misfired to Phillips looked more like UNC caught Jackson in a bad coverage for the fade and he threw it away. The deep curl to Kumah that also drew a face mask was Jackson's second read. That was a very strong throw. When you watch around college football and see QB situations like what Carolina is dealing with, and then you see Jackson and Bush perform coupled with all the promise Hooker showed in the spring, the Hokies have amazing depth at the quarterback position.
7) Phillip Patterson finally got on the field. But, I am not sure a guy coming off a knee injury should be utilized on the take a knee play. They need Patterson to provide a vertical threat to compliment Kumah, Savoy, and Phillips. With the game out of hand, I would have liked to see Patterson get another week to heal.