2012 Football Game Preview: VT at UNC

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With their backs planted firmly against the proverbial wall, Virginia Tech heads to Chapel Hill to take on a UNC team that has been dominant in their last 10 quarters of football.

UNC is 3-2 overall and 0-1 in the ACC. They are ineligible for postseason play, but that doesn’t mean they can’t take on a spoilers role in league play. That’s what they’ll try to do when Virginia Tech comes to town.

The Tar Heels are coached by Larry Fedora, who is in his first year. Fedora is bringing a new style and new energy to the program. In time, I think UNC fans will realize he’s a much better coach than the one they finally had to run out of town.

The North Carolina Offense

The UNC coaching staff has done an outstanding job installing a brand new offense to a very young group of players. The Tar Heel running backs are all sophomores or freshmen, they start a true freshman at wide receiver, and a couple of other sophomore receivers play a lot. They also start a sophomore at tight end, and of course junior quarterback Bryn Renner (6-3, 215, r-Jr.) is learning spread, up-tempo offense for the first time.

Despite the youth, and an injury that kept 1,000 yard rusher Giovani Bernard out of the starting lineup for a couple of games, the Tar Heels are averaging 477.4 yards per game. They have three running backs who are all very productive, and Renner will be on an NFL roster at some point. Larry Fedora and the offensive coaches have done an outstanding job teaching this offense to a new group of players in a short amount of time.

Of course, it helps to have good players. Butch Davis couldn’t coach, but he always put together a coaching staff who could recruit (for better or for worse). Obviously it’s Bryn Renner who makes this offense go. He is completing 63.8% of his passes this season while averaging 284.4 yards per game through the air. Renner has thrown 14 touchdowns to just four interceptions, and overall I view him as one of the nation’s better quarterbacks.

Renner has been having success despite not having an experienced group of wide receivers around him. Erik Highsmith (6-3, 190, Sr.) has been a big part of the passing game since he was a true freshman, and he currently leads the Heels with 23 catches for 243 yards. However, after Highsmith, there isn’t much experience at wideout.

Quinshad Davis (6-4, 185, Fr.): 15 catches for 210 yards and 2 touchdowns as a true freshman.
Sean Tapley (6-1, 185, r-So.): 12 catches for 238 yards and 3 TD’s in his first extensive playing time.
Mark McNeil (6-4, 205, r-So.): A player who has split his time with the UNC Lacrosse team.

Despite all of that inexperience, the Tar Heels have been able to put together a very dangerous passing game. An effective rushing game makes them even more dangerous.

Giovani Bernard (5-10, 205, r-So.) is one of the most underrated backs in the country. He is very effective as a downhill runner, and he is also an outstanding receiver out of the backfield. He missed two games with an injury this year – both of UNC’s losses – but he still has 213 yards on just 29 carries, to go along with 12 receptions for 112 yards. Look for Bernard to be in the lineup against the Hokies, and he should be as close to 100% as he has been since week one.

Bernard isn’t the only weapon out of the backfield that UNC will employ. They also have A.J. Blue (6-2, 225, r-So.) and Romar Morris (5-10, 180, r-Fr.). Blue is a big, physical back who was originally recruited to play quarterback. He has 257 yards on 50 carries (5.1 ypc) on the season, while Morris has 235 yards on 44 carries (5.3 ypc). Morris is also a dynamic pass catcher out of the back field. He caught five passes for 149 yards and two touchdowns against Louisville.

Overall, UNC has enough playmakers at wide receiver and tailback to pressure a defense everywhere on the field. They are a very dangerous offense, and they are made even more dangerous because of the experience of their offensive line.

LT James Hurst (6-7, 290, Jr.): 5-star recruit out of high school, starter since he was a true freshman
LG Jonathan Cooper (6-3, 295, r-Sr.): 2nd team All-ACC, starter since he was a r-freshman
C Russell Bodine (6-4, 305, r-So.): First year starter, played over 300 snaps in 2011
RG Travis Bond (6-7, 330, Sr.): Starter last season, playing rotation since he was a true freshman
RT Brennan Williams (6-7, 310, Sr.): Starter last season

That’s a very experienced offensive line. The left side is the best, with two All-ACC players, and I think Russell Bodine (whom Virginia Tech recruited heavily) has a very bright future up front for the Tar Heels. This was an offensive line that was built to sustain the power running game of Butch Davis, but they’ve done a good job adapting to the new spread offense.

Want proof? UNC has racked up 400+ yards of total offense in every game they’ve played, despite the youth at tailback and receiver, and despite switching to a new offense. That’s a sure sign that the offensive line is playing good football. Here’s a look at their overall offensive numbers:

Rushing offense: #53
Passing offense: #23
Total offense: #32
Scoring offense: #12
Pass Efficiency: #21
Sacks allowed: #10
Third Down %: #27

North Carolina is more balanced offensively than anyone the Hokies have faced thus far, and they’ve done it despite not having their star tailback for a couple of games. This offense is legit, and the Tech defense will have its hands full on Saturday.

The North Carolina Defense

The UNC offense is not the only unit making a schematic change. The UNC defense has multiple fronts, and they can show a 4-2-5 look, an eight-man front, as well as 3-3-5 looks. It has paid off so far, at least statistically.

Rushing defense: #16
Passing defense: #33
Total defense: #16
Scoring defense: #19
Pass Efficiency defense: #25
Sacks: #22
TFL: #5
Third downs %: #30

Those are impressive defensive numbers, and it looks to me that the Tar Heels are the most balanced team – offensively and defensively – on Tech’s schedule so far.

North Carolina’s defensive success is predicated on confusing the offensive line with multiple fronts, as well as getting penetration. The Tar Heels are very talented on defense, particularly up front on the defensive line. In fact, one player in particular will present arguably the worst matchup Virginia Tech will face up front all season: Sylvester Williams (6-3, 305, Sr.).

Williams has been a dominant football player up front his year, recording seven tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks in five games. He lives in the backfield, and he’ll be facing a Virginia Tech interior offensive line that has struggled to block everyone they’ve faced. Caleb Farris has played well this year, and Tech has been getting him reps with the #1 offense at right guard this week, so hopefully he’s the answer. Otherwise, look for a lot of pressure up the middle, right in Logan Thomas’ face.

The rest of the defensive line is good as well. Kareem Martin (6-6, 260, Jr.) has seven tackles for loss and two sacks from his defensive end position. Virginia Tech recruited him heavily out of high school – in fact, he came down to Tech and UNC. Martin could be another Tar Heel defender with an NFL future. Tim Jackson (6-5, 270, Jr.) is the starter at nose tackle, and the former defensive end is very quick off the ball and can make plays in the backfield.

Dion Guy (6-4, 245, Sr.) has played both defensive end and linebacker in his career, and that made him an ideal candidate to man UNC’s new hybrid position of Bandit. It’s a combination defensive end/outside linebacker, and whether or not UNC is in a 4-2-5 or a 3-3-5 depends on where the bandit lines up. Guy isn’t particularly experienced as a defensive player, having played mostly special teams his first three years.

The Tar Heels get good play from their linebackers. Kevin Reddick (6-3, 240, Sr.) mans the middle of the UNC defense, having started since his true freshman season. He’s one of the nation’s best inside linebackers, and the presence of both Reddick and defensive tackle Sylvester Williams will make life very difficult for Tech’s interior line.

At the weakside linebacker spot, UNC starts Tommy Heffernan (6-1, 215, r-So.), who is a former walk-on. He has 26 tackles, with three TFL and a sack on the season. Former Virginia Tech recruiting target Travis Hughes (6-2, 230, So.) should also see action behind Heffernan. He has 16 tackles and 1.5 TFL on the year. On the whole, UNC has a very good front seven, as you can tell from their national ranking in tackles for loss and sacks.

The secondary is the weakness of UNC. The Tar Heels have four r-freshmen and one true freshman in the two-deep in the secondary, including one r-freshman starter. UNC starts five defensive backs, and they always have the option to roll one of them up in an eight-man front look.

Jabari Price (6-0, 195, Jr.): Price is a cornerback who started some games as a true freshman two years ago. He’s a good player up around the line of scrimmage, with three TFL and a sack on the season.

Tim Scott (5-11, 190, So.): Scott, a Virginia native whom VT did not offer, started as a true freshman last season for the Tar Heels. He leads the team with two interceptions so far this season.

Tre Boston (6-1, 190, Jr.): Boston started at safety last season, and started four games as a true freshman cornerback in 2010. He is UNC’s most experienced safety.

Sam Smiley (5-11, 185, r-Fr.) and Darien Rankin (5-11, 190, r-Fr.): Both of these young players could see action at strong safety for the Hokies. Obviously any freshman in the secondary has to be considered the weak link of the defense.

Gene Robinson (5-11, 200, Sr.): Robinson plays UNC’s special Ram position. He has a lot of responsibility. He can line up as a traditional safety, as a nickelback, as an outside linebacker, or even as a defensive end at times. Ram is probably a blast to play, once you pick up it up mentally.

Because they feature not one – but two – hybrid positions, the UNC defense has a lot of different alignment options. They can pose a lot of problems for offenses, and I think they present a substantial challenge for Virginia Tech for a couple of reasons:

1: Sylvester Williams vs. Tech’s interior offensive line. Enough said.

2: The Tech offense typically starts slow, many times because the defense “was giving us looks that we haven’t seen on film”. Well, UNC can probably show more looks defensively than any team on Tech’s schedule. I have no doubt that they’ll do some things that they haven’t done before on Saturday, and it will be up to Tech’s staff to recognize it and adjust to it quickly.

Special Times

A quick look at UNC’s special teams stats:

Net punting: #22
Punt returns: #19
Kickoff returns: #46
Punt return yardage defense: #7
KO return yardage defense: #27

Casey Barth is an outstanding kicker for UNC. He has connected on 7-of-8 field goal attempts this year, with a long of 41 yards. His brother Connor is a starting kicker in the NFL. Punter Tommy Hibbard has only punted 16 times through five games, but four of them have gone for 50+ yards, and only six of them have been returned (for a total of 5 yards).

The Tar Heels like to use Giovani Bernard as their punt returner, and he’s dangerous. He has one return for 70 yards and a touchdown this season, so Alonzo Tweedy and the rest of Tech’s punt coverage team will have to be on top of their game.

Wide receiver Sean Tapley and running back Romar Morris are the kickoff returners, and though neither has broken anything longer than 33 yards on the season, they are both dangerous. Morris in particular is very explosive in the open field, similar to R.D. Abernathy of Cincinnati.

Special teams look like a pretty even matchup in this game.

Final Thoughts

In case you were keeping up, the worst statistic on UNC’s resume is their rushing offense, which ranks #53 nationally. In 10 of the 17 stats kept on this page by the NCAA, Virginia Tech ranks worse than UNC’s worst ranking. North Carolina is the best team Virginia Tech has faced athletically and statistically.

The Tar Heels are better than their 3-2 record indicate. Judging from what I’ve seen this season, the Tar Heels should not have lost to Wake Forest, and if they played a full four quarters against Louisville, they probably would have won that game.

But I do know that UNC is playing their best football right now. After falling down 36-7 at halftime to Lousville, UNC outscored the Cardinals 27-3 in the second half, and just barely fell short of a huge comeback after running out of downs inside the Louisville 10. Since the beginning of the second half of that game, the Tar Heels have outscored their opponents 120-9.

This is obviously a confident football team. Anyone that crushes their opponents like UNC has been doing since the start of that second half would be confident. This is also the biggest game of the season for the Tar Heels. Since they are ineligible for a bowl game, they are treating this game as their bowl. It’s White Out in Chapel Hill, and UNC will be wearing white helmets for the first time since the 1960s. Conversely, Tech will be wearing all-maroon.

These two teams have the same record, and Tech has a better mark in ACC play. But anyone who has actually watched these two teams play will tell you that the Tar Heels look better than the Hokies. Their defense has improved rapidly, and the offense has had no trouble picking up the new spread system. There’s no doubt that UNC should be the favorite in this football game.

On the other hand, Tech has never lost a road game in the state of North Carolina, and this is typically the time of year when the offense simplifies things and starts playing better. Frank Beamer himself said on Monday night that it’s time to start getting back to the basics. The Hokies are a wounded team right now, but offensively they showed major signs of life in the second half last week. They are also back in their element: ACC play. Based on the past, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Tech get it together and win this football game.

But this doesn’t seem like the past, does it? In the past, the Hokies have had the experience in the secondary, and they don’t this year. What they do have is receivers who don’t put much effort into blocking and who don’t run their routes hard if they aren’t the primary receivers. What they have is a quarterback who, quite frankly, is probably the worst in the ACC right now. What they have, in my opinion, is an offense that doesn’t have much confidence in their coaches or the system they play in.

Defensively, I think the Hokies played their butts off up front against Cincinnati, and linebackers Bruce Taylor and Jack Tyler are playing very good football right now. However, they lack the swarm we are used to, and they just don’t have the bodies in the secondary to combat this UNC passing attack. I also wonder if there’s not a confidence problem with the whole team, not because of the fact that they’ve lost two games, but because of how they lost two games. To steal a term from The U, this team seems to lack the “swag” right now.

I think they are capable of getting it back, but until I see it, I can’t pick them to beat a team with the talent of North Carolina. I think the Tar Heels will be in control of this one from the very beginning, and the outcome will never be in doubt.

UNC’s cool new white helmets, special for Saturday’s game against VT.

Chris Coleman’s Prediction: UNC 30, Virginia Tech 17

Will Stewart’s Take:  Five games in, I’ll admit that my confidence in the Hokies is shot. Not for the reasons you might think, either. Put aside the youth, the slow starts on offense, the difficulties in the defensive backfield … the biggest reason my confidence in the Hokies is gone is because of the lack of fire they’re showing this season.

Tech was fired up for the Georgia Tech game on Labor Day night, but since then, they’ve been flat. Even during last Saturday’s game against Cincinnati, with so much improvement needed on both sides of the ball, the TV announcers kept remarking on how much more energy the Bearcats had on their sideline than the Hokies did.

Now, you march that team into Chapel Hill, which isn’t exactly a tough place to play, but it will be against a team that’s looking to prove itself. UNC wants to make a statement, just like Pittsburgh did, and just like Cincinnati did. And the Tar Heels are perhaps more equipped to make that statement than either of those other teams appeared to be, going in.

This is a bad situation, and a bad matchup.

The best hope for the Hokies is that they finally respond to the lackluster play and second-guessing by getting fired up, that they finally show up mentally for a game.

Another hope is that the annual simplification of the offense, which Frank Beamer indicated on Tech Talk Live this past Monday was underway, will bear fruit in this game. The Hokies can’t risk another slow start, because UNC appears to have the firepower to put on the pressure offensively.

Can Virginia Tech win this game? Sure. Will they? Maybe. But at this point, they have shown me more in the last four games to indicate that they’re not going to win, not unless they turn something around. If they do, I’ll show more confidence in them in future picks, but not this time around, not yet.

Will Stewart’s Prediction: UNC 30, Virginia Tech 20

61 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. All right – Both Chris and Will’s predictions are reverse MoJo!!! I am still pulling for the Hokies to turn the ship around this weekend! GO HOKIES!

  2. Hokies don’t have a prayer. Only teams left we can possibly beat is Duke and UVA and I will worry about those. Do we really have to play that Alabama game in 2013?

  3. Here goes my two cents. I think that as a fan base we need to start hyping up the team. I was really pissed at all the VT fans at ACCCG last year. When went to head at half-time no one was fired up, it seemed like I was at UVA game instead of a Tech game. I believe that some of the players are thinking that we are doing all the bitching at them and so it rolls down hill.
    I know that there are some things that alot of you that know more about football then I do disagree with the way the program is going, but I am not going to throw them under the bus, ad, coaches or players.
    I will be in CH on Sat. plan on getting there at 9:30 or so and setting up in the smith bowels lost and getting ready for VT to WIN!
    Hokies 31
    Tarheels 17

  4. Looking back, we’ve been here before… maybe not as bad as this time around, but we have. It’s not a new thing that our offense takes numerous games to finally click, or we stumble out of the gate and manage to string together some wins later in the season, including a few we really had no business winning:

    2004 – After losing to the #1 team and eventual national champion, USC, a crushing home loss to NC State, who went 5-6 that year spurred on a 8-0 record for the remainder of our season games, capped off witha 3 point loss to an undefeated Auburn team in the Sugar Bowl.

    2006 – Following two straight losses to a pretty good GT team, and a 3-22 thumping by a bad Boston College team in Chestnut Hill, Tech won every game for the remainder of the season, including a home game against #10 Clemson (who at the time looked like they were going to blow us out of Blacksburg in a similar fashion to the way Miami did in ’05)

    2008 – After yet again, stumbling in a season opener… this time against East Carolina, the team looked almost the same as it does now… new running backs, new wide receivers. They had trouble finding their groove, and they tripped up again later in the season losing two straight (BC, FSU). Somehow managed to win out, get revenge on BC (again) and beat Cincy in the Orange Bowl.

    2009 – I can’t really complain about the Alabama game. That game was well fought on both sides of the ball. However, the miracle win vs. Nebraska had a lot to do with some luck at the end (and some Tyrod Taylor magic), very well could have been a loss. Georgia Tech exploited those weaknesses when we traveled to Atlanta, and then a Ryan Williams fumble at the end of the UNC game gave them a chip-shot field goal to win the game. UNC should have been no contest that year the way we had been playing against other competition, but of course, following that loss, we won every game, outscoring our opponents 169-49.

    2010 – Do I really have to remind everyone about Boise and JMU? Boise was a tough match, but JMU? There’s never a good enough excuse to lose to an FCS squad… not even the, “Well, they’re a GOOD FCS team”. For some reason, JMU had our number that day, but we managed to win out the rest of our regular season, snag another ACC championship and then underachieve in a BCS bowl game.

    2012 – After playing pretty damn good defense vs. Georgia Tech (who just lost to Middle Tennessee State), we looked pretty sloppy against Austin Peay and even Bowling Green (even if it was a shutout). And of course, no business losing to Pitt, and the heartbreaker to Cincy, which, to be honest, didn’t come as a surprise. Now we continue league play against a team I absolutely despise (2nd only to UVa). We’ve had trouble in the past at Kenan, but have always managed to pull out a win. As much as I agree with Will on the prediction, there’s a voice inside telling me this thing’s going to turn around.

    1. I’m with you BWS. Chris says, “but until I see it, I can’t pick them to beat a team with the talent of North Carolina.”

      I say that until I see it, I can’t pick us to lose an ACC game, especially to a team that isn’t even ranked. While their comeback against Louisville was impressive it’s not uncommon that a team lets off teh gas when they get a big lead and Louisville is not exactly a powerhouse. And Wake Forest, really? If you say that UNC should have beaten Wake, then you have to say we should have beaten Cincy. And which would be more impressive? Our win of course.

      I am nervous as a cat but believe we will find a way to pull this out. But, we have to get decent play from our secondary.

      I did notice the line has moved from -2 to -5.5 for UNC so obviously I am a lot more confident than most people.

  5. As appalling as it was and as bad as we were (some things have got to change as we all want at this point), they are STILL North Carolina and we did lose on a Hail Mary…30-24 Tech.

  6. Foster suits up in desperate attempt to inspire team, has 4 sacks and 10 TFLs and knocks Stiney out of the game during halftime because of the Hokies slow start and lack of offensive complexity. Leal goes in as QB in 2H and throws 3 TDs to his new favorite target, TE Logan Thomas. Hokies win 31-28; Stiney out indefinitely.

  7. They’re still UNC. They’re not world-beaters and have nothing meaningful on their resume for this year besides one half of football vs. a Louisville team that had already checked out because they were up by 30 at halftime.

    And, we’re not slouches. The defense looked better last Saturday excluding some unfortunate lapses, and the offense had its best half of the year in the second half.

    As much as I considered doing so, I don’t buy these statistics in arriving at this week’s outcome. Yes, I’m aware that a sharp Renner vs. our secondary is going to be a dogfight. But, there’s something bigger here. The Hokies, both players and coaches, know their backs are against the wall and we will see their best effort. Sharp D and a finally-sharp LT3 will be too much for the ‘Heels.

    VT 31, UNC 20

  8. UNC is no better than Cincinnati from what I’ve seen of both teams. VT plays hard in ACC games…and we know what our goals are.

    That being said, I still don’t think we have quite enough to win there this week, BUT I wouldn’t be surprised if we did.

    I’m hoping this is the week the light (or should I say the fire) comes on.

  9. Wow, that’s depressing!. Wonder why I am making the trip to Chapel Hill. Hope we play surprisingly well.

  10. Not ready to abandon ship yet- winning coastal division games is what Virginia Tech does best, VT 24 UNC 14. Denying UNC their first legal win over VT,

  11. I thought it was interesting that Travis Hughes, who VT recruited heavily, is 2nd string behind a walk-on. Hughes is a So. and the walk-on is a red shirt So.

    Also, Tim Scott (5-11, 190, So.) from the state of VA, VT didn’t even offer but he’s started 11 games as a Freshmen and 5 so far this year. I don’t know how good he is but he leads their team in interceptions. We may have missed one.

    I didn’t notice it in the write up but I saw in the “Responses” someone said we are wearing all Maroon this Saturday. While I like the all maroon, I question the logic. It’s supposed to be 84, Sunny and Humid with the game being played at 12:30. I hope our guys stay hydrated. Traditionally, the home team wears their colors, I bet as soon as they saw us on the schedule so early they planned this white out game so we would have to wear the darker jersey. lol

      1. I see Hoakie82 logic. Players will be hotter in darker uniforms. Will sweat more and will need to stay hydrated.

      2. True, but 84 is hot for football, just saying. They need to be hydrated. It’s gonna be warm and humid. Football is better in the 40’s & 50’s.

  12. Bud is not the only one Pissed. Myself and about 95 % of the Hokie Nation Is. VT has a 14 game win streak for road games in NC. I see that coming to an end Saturday. I hate the Tarheels with the same passion as I do uva But I think Too little too late, VT will lose big time. I hate to say that we will lose, can’t remember when the last time I thought that.

  13. Disagree with some, not sure our recruiting is as good as thought. Agree that coaching , particularly on offense, is not good and has been bad for the past few years. Has anyone seen the o-line block consistantly over the course of a drive much less a game ??

  14. I am not ready to write this one off. Bud is pissed. That is a good thing. Defense has some players out of position in the secondary and is missing Edward’s, but it will bring its best effort this weekend. Offense will be more confident after the second half last week, and the Hokies will win 27-24.

    My biggest peeve is the play of Davis and Roberts. Gayle and Collins appear to play hard to me even though the backfield pressure isn’t as strong as last year, and Painter and Becton play hard. Davis and Roberts should be busting it on every play, and they aren’t. Man do I miss the blocking of Boykin. Davis is a huge dude to block like a Matador.

    1. Two avg. teams playing in an avg. league who have both lost to avg. teams , should be an avg. game….. I think we play above avg. and win by 3 touchdowns !!!!! Go Hokies !

    2. Will, Chris & DW –

      Bud is PISSED!

      That is a good thing. But it ain’t enough time for him to work his magic.

      The UNC passing game will light VT’s secondary up. This will be an ugly game due to the protection UNC gives Renner. FINAL SCORE: UNC 41, VT 10.

      VT will be out-played by the UNC talent. The coaches will not be out-coached in this game but I will pursue the coaching issue w/B’street after the game.

      Hang tough Hokie Nation, it will be a long year.

  15. I agree with Larry. Look at who UNC has played. I will reserve judgment on who will win this. I’m leaving Cincinnati tomorrow for VA and will be at the game on Saturday. I guess I will see first hand how both teams look. I’m not ready to give up on them just yet.

    1. We’ve played an equally weak schedule and our Offensive numbers are no where near UNCs.

      If schedule is the reason theirs are so good, then that makes how bad ours are even more inexcusable.

          1. Bay Area Hokie – You’re absolutely right. Pittsburgh with an “h” Maybe I should scale back and go with Pitt.

  16. I definitely think that UNC is the better looking team on paper here. And, I also agree that these Hokies are going to have do a 180 in more than just one facet of their game to win this.

    However, I’m not quivering in fright over these statistical rankings that the Tar Heels are sporting right now. Most of the padding comes from games played against Elon and Idaho. Elon is a really, really bad team. Idaho is a really, really bad team that had to travel 2000 miles to play the Heels. This team also lost to Wake. I know the game was weird, and Gio was out, but Wake is not that good this year.

    My head tells me that VT is in trouble, but my gut is telling me that LT and the running game gets it turned around in week 6, ala Miami game last year, and the Tar Heels walk into a hornets’ nest on Saturday. Frank Beamer just owns the Tar Heels, and how dare this young whippersnapper Larry Fedora think any different.
    31-21 Hokies.

    1. You hit it right on the head. Look at the schedule!!! You can throw out all of those stats!!

  17. The only pic you put in the article is of a UNC helmet? There is nothing cool about anything with a UNC logo. Lame. I know it’s a trivial point but overall your write up was about as inspired as the team’s play of late. And no I’m not suggesting you or Will be a cheerleader, That had to be one of shortest previews ever. Maybe you try a little harder for Alabama next year.

    Have at it. I don’t give a crap,

    1. It seemed like a pretty comprehensive preview to me – what specifically do you feel it was missing?

    2. In terms of the number of words (as told to me by Microsoft Word), this is our second-longest preview of the year — only the GT preview was longer.

      1. I agree regarding the collective content of the article. What else need be said? A play by play prediction.

        Will, I think you hit the nail on the head in terms of concern about this team. What the announcers observed during the Cincy game has been prevalent the last four games – a lack of TEAM passion and focus on both sides of the ball. This results in mental and physical lapses that turns into big plays for the opponent. The GT game was not as bad, but lets face it, the way GT is playing this year they would likely have a tough time against Bowling Green and AP.

  18. I think these are pretty conservative predictions. We could lose by a lot more, This is an awful matchup for us right now. Best OL we face all year. Locked in QB with all kinds of weapons. Slasher RB. Big DL, especially at DT. Athletic LB’ers. Us with no emotional equity, them with it all.

    If we’re going to win, we need to be physical on offense early and FINISH with an early score or two. Block a punt, return a kick. Get a pick off a tipped ball. Have a punt muffed. That type of stuff needs to happen, and we can get back on track.

    But, if all anomalies are equal, they will beat our pants off.

    1. I want to see a link on that. I had heard the team doesn’t have maroon pants this year?

      But, like you, all maroon…I’m all in. Hell yes.

  19. Jesus, Chris…

    I wasn’t feeling great about this game to begin with, but I thought maybe we turn things around and have a shot this weekend. Then I read your preview looking for, just anything, to support that notion. Instead, what I find only makes me feel worse about this match-up.

    I know that games aren’t played on paper, but, just wow…

  20. so wait…they have the O stats below…all with a new coach. a new offensive philosophy. only one experienced WR and a dinged up starter at RB. our offensive coaching staff should be ashamed of themselves.

    Rushing offense: #53
    Passing offense: #23
    Total offense: #32
    Scoring offense: #12
    Pass Efficiency: #21
    Sacks allowed: #10
    Third Down %: #27

    1. Let’s put a little perspective on this…

      UNC’s wins: Elon, East Carolina, Idaho
      UNC’s losses: Wake, Louisville

      Louisville aside, not a very high strength of schedule…I would hope their offenseive numbers looked good.

      I’m feeling much better about our chances.

      1. VT wins: GT, Austin Peay, Bowling Green
        VT losses: Pitt, Cincy

        How do our offensive number look?

      2. sorry but SoS is another excuse, IMO. they are producing despite their inexperience in the system.

        i’m sooooo glad our famed “consistency at coaching” gets us the same results as a rookie coaching staff.


    2. That’s what a sense of direction, an organized philosophy on offense will do for you.

    3. That’s quite damning.

      Here’s what VTs look like for comparison:

      Rushing offense:#77
      Passing offense: #71 (tied with Colorado)
      Total offense: #85
      Scoring offense: #61 (tied with Cincinnati)
      Pass Efficiency: #86
      Sacks Allowed: NA
      Third Down %: #75 (tied with Indiana)

      I went one step further and looked at first downs. VT is tied with UTEP at 94. Ninty. Four. For a ball control offense, we sure as hell don’t control the ball.

  21. So definitely no 10 win season, especially with Clemson, F$U and da U.

    GO HOKIES BEAT da heels!!!!!!!!

    1. Think Chris & Will are on target with UNC picks. It is very sad but true. Beamer’s “chicken are coming home to roost” for refusing to take meaningful corrective action on coaches a few years ago.

      With Clemson, FSU, probably UNC, and other ACC teams on the way up the ladder, it will require big changes and a few years of leaner times before VT can be at the top of the ACC heap again. If these tough changes are not made, VT will become a run of the mill ACC team. It will be even harder to recruit top talent, a bowl game will be our annual goal, and the glistening Beamer program of old will have lost its shine.

  22. No way does VT lose by 10+. They may lose but it’ll definitely be close and if it’s not and they don’t show any fire then look out because the bowl streak may be in jeopardy.

    1. I hear what you are saying and unless they turn it around quickly we could lose this game by 20+.

      You may need to change your name from HokieHigh to HighHokie if we lose by 10+.

  23. Sheesh. If recruiting hasn’t gone ‘down,’ then why does the talent level on offense all of the sudden seem so low. Perhaps a better term than low is ‘undeveloped?’ Undeveloped talent and lackluster player effort equals coaching issues, doesn’t it?

    1. Issue is not recruiting. If anything we are getting better players from top to bottom than ever. The issue is coaching and developing these players.

      1. I agree! If I thought we had a lack of talent, I’d have a lot easier time “stomaching” our results!

    2. Because recruiting is a crap shoot. Davis is talented, but there’s no way of knowing whether he would develop into a complete receiver when you recruit him. Same for Dyrell. D.J. Coles was the same way coming out of high school, but he (for whatever reason) made the transition better.

      As far as tailbacks go, you could argue that our recruiting was too good. Ryan Williams would have been a r-senior this year, and David Wilson would have been a senior. Hell, if we had been able to redshirt Boykin, he would have been a r-senior this year.

      I think the talent at offensive tackle is way up. The tackles have been good this year, especially Becton.

    3. it’s a perfect storm on offense right now. We knew we were without talent at RB, so we were going to lean on LT until that talent matured. LT has played awful. We knew we had 4 serviceable WR’s, all of which were inconsistent. Then one got hurt. We knew we didn’t have a complete TE, now they have made critical drops. We knew we had one really poor position coach, and his work on the interior OL has blown up more plays than anything else.

      The good news is that if LT snaps out of it, a lot of the other things are tertiary. But, until then, we’re screwed.

      1. My word for the day: “tertiary” (tur’she er’e) – third in order. Thank you st_andrew.

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