Virginia Tech was hammered up front in a 48-34 loss at UNC on Saturday afternoon. The Hokies dropped to 3-3 overall, and are now 1-1 in the ACC. The Tar Heels improved to 4-2, with a 1-1 record in conference play.
UNC tailback Giovani Bernard gashed the Tech defense for 262 yards on just 23 carries. The 262 yards is the most Virginia Tech has given up to an opposing tailback in the history of the program. Overall, the Tar Heels ran for 339 yards and averaged 7.5 yards per carry.
On the other side fo the ball, UNC completely shut down Tech’s running game, holding the Hokies to just 40 yards on the ground. Tech trailed for most of the game and had to go to the air, and on the whole Logan Thomas had his best game of the season. He was 26-of-49 for 355 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception, and he would have thrown for more yardage were it not for several drops by his senior wide receivers.
Dyrell Roberts had a big drop in the first quarter against blown coverage down the sideline, with no one around him. He later left the game with a head injury. Marcus Davis had a critical drop over the middle on a fourth down play deep in UNC territory, and he could have caught another well-thrown pass inside the Tar Heel 10 late in the game.
With Roberts on the shelf, r-freshman Dimitri Knowles had a big game for Virginia Tech. Not only did he return a kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown, but he also had six catches for 83 yards, coming up with numerous key plays for Logan Thomas. Corey Fuller also had some big plays, finishing with five receptions for 143 yards, including a big 66 yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
The big story, however, was the play of the Tech defense. They allowed 533 yards of total offense, and continued to have mental errors in the secondary, particularly with Detrick Bonner. He hit the wrong gap in a huge 62 yard touchdown run by Bernard, he was beaten in the endzone on a touchdown pass, and in general he just looks lost.
Jack Tyler was probably the top player on Tech’s defense, finishing with seven tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and a sack. Michael Cole paced the team with 11 tackles and a tackle for loss. When a r-freshman free safety leads the team in tackles, that’s a bad sign for the defense as a whole. The Hokies did have nine tackles for loss in this game, which is one of their best outputs of the season (10 against Austin Peay, and nine against Georgia Tech). However, they had too many missed assignments, too many missed tackles, and the interior of the defense was soundly beaten by a UNC offensive line that has been playing very well this season.
The Hokies return home to face Duke for their homecoming game next weekend, but that is by no means going to be an easy win. The Blue Devils are 5-1 on the year, unbeaten in ACC play, and coming off a 42-17 thumping of UVA despite the fact that quarterback Sean Renfree was out with an injury. Considering the fact that they nearly upset Virginia Tech a year ago, the Blue Devils will be very confident coming to Blacksburg.
Kickoff for next week’s game is scheduled for 12:30pm, and the game will be televised by The ACC Network.