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October 3, 2013Sign-up for HokieHaven.com Wireless Text Alerts sent right to your cell phone!
Each game, we'll get the inside look at Virginia Tech's opponent by talking with the opposing team's beat writer. This week, we spoke with TarHeelIllustrated.com publisher Adam Powell to get the inside look at North Carolina.
1)First, the obvious question; what happened against East Carolina?
Powell: In simplest terms, it was a complete defensive meltdown. East Carolina was able to run the ball between the tackles, outside the hashes, bubble screens, passes in the flats, to the running backs. They were able to do pretty much what they wanted to do against UNC. The Tar Heels were really unable to get any kind of pass rush. They really didn't make Shane Carden panic or have to scramble much at all back there. He could kinda pick his spots. But the biggest thing is they were able to run for 200 yards. you just saw as the game went on that the team kinda saw they were getting run over. I don't think they were prepared for it and there might have been a certain level of complacency going into that game.
2)How much of a concern is UNC's defense after giving up so many yards and points to ECU?
Powell: The defense absolutely cost them the East Carolina game. They just simply couldn't get off the field. I think the coaches are frustrated on the defensive side of the ball because they're not able to spend as much time focusing on the big picture with this team, things they should have learned and had down before they got to Chapel Hill, like tackling. These guys just don't seem to be grasping what's going on from both a scheme standpoint, as well as a desire/focus standpoint. It's just a disturbing theme for UNC fans to watch.
3) Do you just throw out the ECU game or how much of a true indicator is that of UNC?
Powell: I think you definitely wanna forget it, as it relates to going out and playing against Virginia Tech. You can't let any baggage from that game linger at the surface. But at the same time, games like that and losses like that can serve as motivation. You might not wanna keep it on the front of your mind, but you don't wanna necessarily not have it on the back of your mind, at least from a pride standpoint. Against East Carolina, they had guys at the point of attack, had guys who could make tackles in the backfield or brought running backs down after a minimal game. Those tackles just weren't made. I don't think the coaches have given up on this team, but there's a high level of frustration with the defensive personnel and where their heads are at.
4)UNC has a lot of offensive starters back, like quarterback Bryn Renner, but how different are the Tar Heels without Giovanni Bernard who went to the NFL?
Powell: Not having Bernard is one thing, but they also had to replace three offensive linemen that all got drafted. Landon Turner is the right guard, he got some action at starter at the end of the year after Brendon Williams got hurt in November. It's not like he was a fresh starter, but he's a first time all-year starter. He's been solid. There's been some more issues at right tackle with Jon Heck. There was a three-way battle in training camp and Heck won the job, but it's been interesting. He's been called for holding in all but one game. Renner is a pro style guy, recruited for a pro style offense that they're trying to work into this zone read, spread deal. It's opened it up for him to make a lot of plays in the air.
5) Is North Carolina a down team heading to Blacksburg? Is Virginia Tech catching the Heels at a good time?
Powell: That's hard to answer. They had a players only meeting after ECU and there's certain guys who feel that sense of urgency, as well as the coaches. It's just hard to know how players are gonna react, once they get out on the field on game day. Is a guy gonna drop a punt or fumble? That's the thing Carolina has to watch for. It's easy to be excited when things are going good. The question is, they got smacked int he first half against ECU and it was like they lost their spunk. They've gotta avoid that in this game.
FEARLESS PREDICTION: Realistically, I think North Carolina will keep it close. I think it's gonna be a low-scoring game. Virginia Tech's got a fine defense and their offense isn't quite there. At the same time, Carolina, while I don't think they'll give up 55 points, they still have a lot to prove, that they're a respectable defense. I would probably put it at 24-21 or 27-24 kinda game, in favor of Virginia Tech. I think North Carolina has to score more than 24 points to win.
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