FACTS & STATS: Site: Kenan Stadium (63,000) — Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Television: ACC Network. Home Record: VaTech 2-2, UNC 2-0. Away Record: VaTech
1-0, UNC 0-2. Neutral Record: VaTech 0-0, UNC 0-0. Conference Record: VaTech
0-1, UNC 0-1. Series Record: Virginia Tech leads, 19-11-6.
GAME NOTES: Two teams still seeking their first conference victory of the
season collide at Kenan Stadium on Saturday, as the North Carolina Tar Heels
play host to the Virginia Tech Hokies in an ACC Coastal Division battle.
Larry Fedora’s Tar Heels opened the season with two straight victories at
home, defeating Liberty (56-29) and San Diego State (31-27), but the road has
been a completely different story, with setbacks to East Carolina (70-41) and
most recently, Clemson (50-35) dropping UNC to even on the year at 2-2.
Frank Beamer’s Hokies have played four of their five games at home, but that
hasn’t provided much of an advantage, with a 2-2 record at Lane Stadium thus
far. Virginia Tech did stun nationally-ranked Ohio State (35-21) in its only
road game of the season thus far, but followed that with back-to-back narrow
home losses to East Carolina (28-21) and Georgia Tech (27-24). The Hokies were
able to close out a three-game homestand strong though, with last week’s 35-17
win over Western Michigan.
Virginia Tech holds a 19-11-6 advantage in the all-time series with North
Carolina and is 8-2 in ACC affairs. Virginia Tech posted a 27-17 win at home
last year against UNC.
A young squad, especially on offense, Tech has managed to be pretty balanced,
averaging over 420 yards per game, with 174.6 coming on the ground and 247.6
through the air.
Junior quarterback Michael Brewer has completed just over 61 percent of his
passes on the season, but has been prone to mistakes with nine touchdowns
against 10 interceptions.
Eight of his nine TD passes have been caught by freshmen, with youngster
Isaiah Ford (6-1, 174) being the best of the bunch with team-highs of 24
receptions, 297 yards and 4 TDs.
The team lacks a real workhorse in the backfield, although freshman Marshawn
Williams (290 yds, 4.5 ypc, 2 TDs) has shown flashes. He will have to carry
more of the load going forward, as Shai McKenzie (269 yds, 5.1 ypc, 3 TDs) has
been lost for the season to a knee injury suffered against Western Michigan.
The Hokies field a formidable defense this season, one that has thrived on the
big play, with 21 sacks and nine turnovers forced in the first five games. IN
all, opponents are averaging just 325.6 yards per game.
Linebacker Chase Williams has been a force in the middle of the defense,
leading the Hokies in total tackles (42) and TFL (8.5), with 3.5 sacks and one
forced fumble to his credit. Defensive backs Kyshoen Jarrett (28 tackles, two
INTs), Chuck Clark (25 tackles, one sack) and Kendall Fuller (17 tackles, two
sacks) are playmakers in the secondary, while defensive end Dadi Nicolas (20
tackles, 7.0 TFL, 4.5 sacks) is the player to watch up front.
North Carolina hasn’t had many problems offensively this year, as the team is
putting up a gaudy 438.5 yards per game, with a strong emphasis on the pass
Quarterback Marquise Williams has completed over 63 percent of his throws on
the year and has a 2:1 touchdown to interception ratio (8-4). There are a
number of targets for Williams to rely on downfield, including Ryan Switzer
(19 rec, 202 yds, 1 TD), Bug Howard (16 rec, 139 yds, 1 TD), Quinshad Davis
(13 rec, 142 yds, 2 TDs) and Mack Hollins (11 rec, 277 yds, 3 TDs).
There are far less positives to take from the defensive side of the football
for North Carolina, which has yielded a whopping 120 points in the last two
games combined. Opponents have moved up and down the field at will for the
most part, resulting in 543.0 yards per game.
Junior linebacker Jeff Schoettmer headlines the defense with a team-best 30
total tackles. He also has one INT to his credit. Sophomore cornerback Brian
Walker only has nine stops on the year, but has been opportunistic with three
fumble recoveries in the first four games.
UNC has struggled to stop anyone this season and although Virginia Tech is far
from an offensive juggernaut, its balance could cause problems for the Tar
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Virginia Tech 31, North Carolina 21