2006 Keys to the Game and Matchups to Watch: VT @ UNC

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After easily dismissing the Northeastern Huskies, Virginia Tech begins the
ACC season with a road trip to Chapel Hill. North Carolina began the season with
considerable optimism, but an opening loss to Rutgers 21-16 and the Hokies
coming to town has dimmed the hopes of many UNC fans already. Virginia Tech fans
had few questions answered with the “vanilla” game plan used in drubbing
1-AA Northeastern 38-0, but much optimism exists in the Hokie camp. So what
should Tech fans expect this week from North Carolina?

North Carolina is a team with its back to the wall. Following the game
with Virginia Tech, UNC faces Furman at home and then has road trips to Clemson
and Miami. UNC could easily be looking at a 1-4 start and the Heels still have a
road trip to Notre Dame on the schedule. North Carolina badly needed the opening
win against Rutgers to have a successful season, so Virginia Tech will likely be
facing a team with a strong sense of urgency.

So, what are the keys to the North Carolina game?

When Virginia Tech has the Ball:

1. Control the Ball via the Power Running Game

The last two years has seen the Hokies rush for 270 and 277 yards against
North Carolina respectively, so the obvious expectation is for Tech to continue
to pound the ball down the proverbial throat of the Heels. Two years ago Mike
Imoh set a Virginia Tech single game rushing record against UNC with 243 yards
as the Hokies dominated the line of scrimmage. Last year Tech averaged 5.2 yards
per carry against the Tar Heels, which was particularly impressive considering
that North Carolina only gave up an average of 3.5 yards per carry on the
season. Last week Rutgers rushed for 217 yards against UNC on 41 carries (5.3
average), so run defense looks to be a major concern for North Carolina,
particularly with Virginia Tech coming to town.

Against UNC, Virginia Tech has used the power running game more than usual in...