Sunday Thoughts: Virginia Tech-North Carolina
If you’re anything like me, you spent most of the Tech-Carolina game doing double takes and wondering if you were watching the Hokies lose to Georgia Tech for the second week in a row.
Statistically, the two games were separated at birth.
The Hokies squandered excellent field position time and time again.
Tech trailed 7-3 at the half in Atlanta and 7-0 in Blacksburg.
The Yellow Jackets had the ball for 38 minutes while North Carolina had it for 36.
Tyrod Taylor had two more yards passing against UNC, Ryan Williams had four fewer yards rushing, and Dyrell Roberts had six fewer yards receiving.
All three were the Hokie leaders in their respective categories both weeks.
In the second half, Tar Heels offensive coordinator John Shoop started to mix things up very effectively. The UNC personnel wasn’t having much success against Tech straight up, so he started using misdirection and shifting formations to confuse the Hokie defense.
This seems to be the formula to beat the Hokies having worked two weeks in a row.
UNC kept motioning running backs outside and then bringing former tailback and current wide receiver Greg Little into the backfield.
That coupled with the power running of Ryan Houston kept the Hokies off balance.
Houston exposed the Hokies weakness at defensive tackle where Tech lacks depth and ran over the Hokies inconsistent linebacker corps.
On offense, it was mostly business as usual for the Hokies.
There was very little if any rhythm for Tech and critical mistakes—like a fumble on the Hokies’ opening drive and a holding penalty late that brought back a Ryan Williams touchdown run—continued to hamper the offensive unit.
The Carolina defense is a top-10 unit nationally which explains why the Hokies allowed 3 sacks and averaged just 2.9 yards per carry on the ground.
Speaking of running, Tech was unable to really get Ryan Williams on track despite 96 yards gained.
There was just never a real consistent ground game for Tech and Carolina out-rushed Tech handily, which is always a recipe for disaster.
During the Hokies current 16-year Bowl streak, Tech is just 17-37 when the opponent runs for more yards.
Clearly, it’s gut-check time for Virginia Tech.
The Hokies’ next outing against East Carolina Thursday night has gone from a potential “trap” game, to being an absolute must win.
While the season has been a disappointment, this team has to decide how they’ll be remembered; as a group that folded their tent at the first sign of adversity, or as a group that struggled at times but rallied and finished strong.
We’ll find out Thursday if Tech turns over a new leaf in the last throws of autumn, or if it’s déjà vu all over again.
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