Virginia Tech Vs. North Carolina Preview : Thursday Nite Showdown
The Hokies will play host to the North Carolina Tar Heels for their first Thursday night game of the year, and if there is one thing Virginia Tech fans look forward too, it is a Thursday night game in Blacksburg.
North Carolina is still searching for their first ACC win, and Virginia Tech will look to progress after being knocked out of the national title race by Georgia Tech.
Both of these teams are coming off of disappointing losses and it should play out to be an interesting game on both sides of the ball.
North Carolina Tar Heels
The Tar Heels (4-3, 0-3) have played strongly in out-of-conference games this season, but their ACC play hasn't been so impressive.
They have relied heavily on their defense, which was the No. 1 ranked passing defense in the nation going into the Florida State game, but will most likely fall down a few notches as Christian Ponder threw for almost 400 yards and three touchdowns in that heartbreaking loss.
T.J Yates has had some solid performances this season in the first half, but has failed to close out teams in the second half of the game. He has now thrown for more interceptions (eight) than he has touchdowns (seven).
One player Virginia Tech will need to keep an eye on will be wide receiver Erik Highsmith. This freshman wide receiver has had an explosive season so far, although he's been pretty quiet in the last couple of games he has shown to be a reliable target for Yates.
North Carolina had high expectations heading into this season, but have hit a few speed bumps along the way. A win over Virginia Tech this Thursday could spark some confidence back into this team.
If they can play an entire game like they did the first half against Florida State, they will give Virginia Tech a run for their money for sure.
Virginia Tech Hokies
Virginia Tech (5-2, 3-1) went from national title talk to being on the back-burner in their own conference all in one loss to Georgia Tech.
They will have a bye week to get refocused and come out fresh in their favorite element, a Thursday night nationally televised game at home.
Virginia Tech will need to win the rest of their games this season in convincing fashion and hope for a Georgia Tech loss along the way to make their way to Tampa for the ACC championship game and represent the coastal division.
This journey will start against North Carolina, and will be on the shoulders of Tyrod Taylor. Taylor has improved by leaps and bounds this season and has emerged as a true dual-threat quarterback.
Remember though, he will be facing one of the top-ranked passing defenses in the country. The Tar Heels absolutely smothered Ponder in the first half of their game against Florida State. The Hokie offensive line has been questionable this season, but will need to be at their best to protect Taylor.
Ryan Williams will need to carry his load in the rushing game, which shouldn't be an issue as he is averaging 119 yards per game.
An exciting ACC showdown
This is setting up to be an exciting game for two teams that are hungry and ready to re-assert themselves in the national perspective.
The game is no pushover for either team and momentum will mean a lot, whichever team can strike first will set things in motion.
In a hostile environment North Carolina will need the be the team that strikes first, take the crowd out of the game and pressure Tyrod Taylor, if they expect to win their first ACC game of the season.
Virginia Tech will need to play with a sense of urgency for the rest of the season. If they want win the conference for the third straight year they must first beat the Tar Heels.
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