Virginia Tech is in for a big challenge on Saturday when #12 North Carolina comes to town for Frank Beamer’s final home game. The Tar Heels are 9-1, and they haven’t lost since the opening Thursday night game of the season when they handed South Carolina a win thanks to two interceptions in the endzone.
Winners of their last two games by a combined score of 125-52, the Heels are sprinting to the finish line, and they seem dead set on proving that Clemson isn’t the only contender in the ACC this year.
“Probably the hottest team in America coming in here on Saturday,” Shane Beamer said. “Whether it’s scoring points or the amount of playmakers they have on offense, it’s really impressive.”
His father agreed, and noted that UNC is one of the most talented teams on Tech’s schedule this year.
“We’ve got a special team coming in,” Beamer the Elder said. “Their talent is right on the level of Ohio State. I think they’re playing at a very, very high level.”
Certainly there is a bit of coach speak involved there, but that doesn’t make the overall point that UNC is very good any less true.
UNC’s defense is much better under first-year defensive coordinator Gene Chizik. The former Auburn head coach inherited a mess, and he’s done a good job turning it into something decent. Though the Tar Heels are still allowing over 200 yards per game on the ground, opponents are scoring just 18.8 points per game against them, and they are #11 in the country in pass defense.
What’s made them so much better this year? Stopping the big play, according to Tech’s offensive coordinator.
“They’re doing a great job of stopping the big play,” Loeffler said. “Right now they are only allowing 18.8 points per game, and they are doing a great job avoiding the big play. They are playing really, really good pass defense.”
UNC has been very successful at stopping the opposing team’s top receiver this year. That’s due in part to a good defensive scheme.
“They do a lot of things in the secondary [that is] very NFL-like,” quarterback Mike Brewer said. “They’ve done a really good job of taking away the playmaker at the wideout position with combo coverages. So we’ve got to be good recognizing where we want to go with the football, and also it’s just as important, we’ve got to be able to run the football. We can’t just sit back and basically get into a throwing match with them.”
Everyone knows that the Tar Heels can score a lot of points, and the Hokies are young in the secondary. The offense will have to play a big role in this game.
“They are capable of scoring a lot of points,” Brewer said. “So we’ve got to keep the foot on the gas and take advantage of the opportunities we get and keep our defense off the field.”