Thursday, September 27, 2007

Game Preview - vs. North Carolina

Game Preview - vs. UNC

This week, the Virginia Tech Hokies host the Tarheels of North Carolina. The Hokies have a record against the Tarheels of 15-9-6 across all the two’s contests and look to increment the wins column by one more. This match serves as the Hokies’ last of several opponents they have used and should continue to use to steadily build back their confidence after a crushing, historical defeat at the hands of the LSU Tigers. This also serves as the Hokies’ first ACC contest of the ’07 season.

The ‘Heels season has gotten off to a rocky start with only one win and three losses which include two close games against ECU and Virginia. South Florida handed them their only real blow out to date just last week. While UNC does not have the makings of a real contender for an ACC championship, their program does have the ability to knock off an unsuspecting team marching their way towards the title game. If Virginia Tech doesn't keep their eyes fixed on this team, UNC could very well do just that.

So what do the Hokies need to accomplish on Saturday? Tyrod Taylor will once again get the starting nod from head coach Frank Beamer. Taylor has thrown a remarkable zero interceptions over sixty-two attempts, and he has done so while often scrambling from opposing, defensive squad pursuers. This game, one that will bring a gradual but noticeable escalation in the ability of the opposing squad, provides more opportunity for growth for the young, un-redshirted Fresman. Not to sound like a broken record, the Hokie offensive line needs to focus on their ability on protecting their quarterback. Taylor, all too many times, had to scramble in the game against William and Mary, which lead to many odd throwing angle passes.

Ore to date has had a sub-par season with only 205 yards of rushing. His numbers in yardage only amount to roughly half of what he had by this time last year and roughly equal the total amount of yards he rushed in his two previous games against UNC combined. Unlike many of our quarterback woes I don't think this is purely because of the offensive line. Ore put up stellar numbers with much of the same O-line members in the 2006 season when they had less experience. Don't get me wrong; Ore is a good running back, and his numbers now aren't terribly bad. They just don't amount to what he has the potential to achieve. Ore is a key piece of the Hokie offense. Not even Tyrod Taylor can consistently throw accurately while scrambling to Virginia Tech's talented wide receivers. The Hokie offense doesn't have a strong tight end this season to catch the clutch-play passes. For the Hokies to succeed this season, Ore needs to jump from his most recent mediocre performance to something much better.

So what does the Hokie offense face this Saturday? They have to contend with the likes of 6'3" 245 lbs linebacker Hilee Taylor. Taylor has amounted a great deal of tackles this season, caused fumbles, and disrupted pass plays. He has exactly what it takes to give the Virginia Tech struggling O-line some serious trouble, especially on Tyrod Taylor's right side. The key to success on offense for the Hokies lies in containing Hilee Taylor.

And on to the UNC offense, quarterback TJ Yates has a 60% completion rating to two very capable receivers in Hakeem Nicks (243 yards) and Brooks Foster (277 yards). These two should keep Hokie cornerbacks Branden Flowers and Victor "Macho" Harris very busy. Also kicker Connor Barth has shown accuracy in going three for three in his field goal attempts. The UNC running game may seem somewhat lackluster with running back Johnny White rushing for only 188 yards on the season to date, but nearly half of those yards came against South Florida, one of the Big East's powerhouses this season and UNC's toughest opponent so far.

Overall, UNC could very well give Virginia Tech a well matched game well into the second half, and even late into the third quarter. We are definitely correct to consider the Hokies the favorite for this game, but overlooking UNC could make for a potential season wrecking mistake. In all fairness UNC should give the Hokies about as much trouble as did ECU, not exactly a worry free game for us Hokie fans as you may recall. However, this match-up makes for a good ACC opener where the Hokies have a chance to start their in conference schedule off with a good win.

North Carolina Tar Heels (1-3, 0-1 ACC) at
#14/#17 (AP) Virginia Tech Hokies (3-1, 0-0 ACC)

Saturday, Sept. 29, 2007 • 12:10 PM
Lane Stadium/Worsham Field
Blacksburg, Va.

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