Keys to the Game and Matchups to Watch: UNC

The ACC season opens for Virginia Tech as the Tar Heels of North Carolina
challenge the Hokies in Lane Stadium at noon this Saturday. Butch Davis arrives
in Chapel Hill with a great deal of fanfare, but the talent level at UNC does
not come close to resembling his Miami teams. Virginia Tech still has quite a
few questions to be answered this season, but North Carolina has even more. So,
what should we expect this Saturday?

North Carolina is the least experienced team in the ACC with only four
starters on offense having started at least half of their games last year and
only three starters on defense starting in 2006. While UNC has some quality
young talent, particularly in this year’s freshman class, the youth has shown
with numerous mistakes and missed assignments early in the season. Butch Davis
has the Tar Heels playing hard, but the lack of experienced talent will likely
lead to a long season for UNC fans.

Virginia Tech simply needs to execute, play hard, and not make mistakes to
handle the Tar Heels. The Hokies have too much talent top-to-bottom for UNC to
stay competitive, but anything can happen on any given Saturday. The Hokies are
similar to South Florida in terms of offensive and defensive philosophy, and the
Bulls easily handled the Heels 37-10. UVA dominated most of the game with UNC,
but the Hoos failed to get the ball in the end zone settling for five field
goals and North Carolina almost pulled off the upset. East Carolina had a
shoot-out with the Tar Heels winning on a late field goal 34-31, but the Pirates
probably should have put that game away earlier. The only win for the Heels this
year was a 37-14 pasting of James Madison.

When playing young teams, the strategy has to be to jump on them early and
discourage the younger players. The Hokies got off to a fast start last week
against out-manned William & Mary, and I would expect Tech to come out
aggressively in all aspects of the game against UNC. Look for Foster try to
force some turnovers early; look for Beamer to try to make a big play on special
teams early; and look for Stinespring to come out aggressively on offense to
make a big play early.