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UNC Faces Challenge in Blacksburg

Sharon Thorsland
October 20, 2017 - 8:37 am
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North Carolina faces another daunting challenge this weekend, traveling to Blacksburg to take on #14 Virginia Tech.  Kick-off is set for 3:30 Saturday on WBT.  

It's been an excruciating season for the Tar Heels, who have been decimated by injuries and have just one win on the season to go with six losses.  The Hokies are at the other end of the spectrum sitting at 5-1 on the year, their only loss coming to Clemson.  They're also coming off a bye week, while the Heels lost to Virginia last week by a respectable 20-14 score.

Virginia Tech's calling card has long been its defense, and that's true again this season.  The Hokies rank 17th in the country in total defense, and allow just 13.7 points per game, that's 7th in the nation.  Linebacker Tremaine Edmunds is a stud, he leads the team in tackles.  Fellow linebackers Mook Reynolds and Andrew Motuapuaka have combined for 90 tackles.  The secondary is aggressive, led by cornerback Greg Stroman teams and safety Terrell Edmunds, older brother of Tremaine.  They'll challenge UNC's quarterback, whoever that may be.  The Heels switched back to grad transfer Brandon Harris for the Virginia game and he was awful, throwing for just 46 yards with three interceptions.  But freshman Chaz Surratt never came in, and apparently both he and Harris are in the running to start against Saturday, so I'm not exactly sure what Larry Fedora is thinking.

Tech is having no such issues at the QB position – they've got a good one in redshirt freshman Josh Jackson.  He's a dual threat, passing for 1700 yards and 13 touchdowns on the season and picking up another 154 yards and a score on the ground.  Junior receiver Cam Phillips is his favorite target, he has 42 catches and five touchdowns.  He's been nursing an ankle injury but is expected to play Saturday.  Fellow receiver C.J. Carroll is also back, and freshman Sean Savoy has stepped up with three touchdowns on the season. 

The Hokies like to run the ball, they average over 178 yards per game on the ground.  They have a bunch of good running backs, starting with Travon McMillian.  He leads the team with 279 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Four other backs have combined for over 500 more yards and five scores.  And as everyone should know by now, UNC's run defense is atrocious, allowing 229 yards per game, that's 115th in the country.

 

The Hokies whipped up on the Tar Heels 34-3 last season in a monsoon in Chapel Hill.  So it would make sense that UNC would like a little revenge this time around.  But I don't think the Hokies are too concerned – it's homecoming in Blacksburg, and unfortunately the Tar Heels seem to fit the role of cupcake all too well.  But you never know, maybe the offense can come to life and actually sustain some drives, the defense can hold up for an entire game, and UNC pulls off the upset.  I can always dream - Go Tar Heels!

 

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