UNC vs Virginia Tech: Inside Enemy Territory


Keeping it Heel recently sat down with Ty Hodges, editor and chief of Fighting Gobbler the Fansided Networks Virginia Tech Blog to discuss UNCs game with the Hokies.

Sept 22, 2012; Blacksburg, VA, USA; A detail view of a Virginia Tech Hokies helmet on the field before the game against the Bowling Green Falcons at Lane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-US PRESSWIRE

Here are the answers to the questions I asked Ty:

1) The truth of the matter is that the Hokies have struggled in every game they’ve played.  Even against Austin Peay, the Hokies took their time to get rolling on offense.  And the offense has definitely been a huge part of the problem for Virginia Tech so far.  The Hokies run a “multiple” offense, but I like to think of it as a multiple-personality disorder personally.  Every drive you might see the Hokies come out in a pistol formation, shotgun, spread, I-formation, etc. The constant changing of styles has caused a rhythm problem on offense, and the coaches have been in the process of cutting back some of the offensive schemes this week in preparations.  I think you’ll see a much more reserved Virginia Tech on Saturday.

2) You’ll definitely want to watch for Jack Tyler, who will be playing the mike linebacker position.  The kid has 53 tackles so far this year and he flies to the ball, especially on run plays.  Tyler’s biggest weakness comes in pass coverage though.  If UNC decides to go more pass heavy, I think you’ll see more intermediate routes open over the middle of the field.

Schematically you’ll want to watch out for Bud Foster’s various blitz packages.  He loves bringing the heat with his linebackers, and Bryn Renner will have to worry about getting the ball out on time in order to stay alive in the pocket.

3) The Hokies desperately need to establish a run game if they want to stay competitive, not only against UNC, but against every other team remaining on their schedule.  I think you’ll see more of a reliance on freshman running back J.C. Coleman, who has shown great explosiveness when running to the outside.  The Hokies are making some changes along the offensive line this week, and that should give Virginia Tech a better push up front against the Tarheel defensive line.  Hopefully the emphasis on the run game will set up the play-action, an area that, when set up properly, has been Logan Thomas’ bread and butter.

4) Logan Thomas’ favorite target is Corey Fuller, but the problem is that Corey Fuller is rarely open.  Thomas is constantly finding himself trying to force balls between two and sometimes three defenders just to get the ball into Fuller’s hands.  Logan Thomas needs to keep spreading the ball around, but he needs to do a better job of finding Marcus Davis downfield. Davis burned Cincinnati’s corners multiple times last Saturday, but he was rarely found by Thomas.

5) I think it’s partially a result of teams being more aware of Thomas’ running potential after last season, poor decision making on the read option by Thomas, and poor play by the offensive line in general.  If you combine those factors, it’s pretty easy to see why Thomas has struggled a bit more this season running the ball.

6) I would try to exploit the short side of the field in the passing game.  Antoine Exum got picked on by Munchie Legaux last weekend because he was the short side corner, and rarely had safety help over the top.  UNC should be able to take advantage of a similar situation this weekend if Foster stays blitz heavy.

7) Bud Foster loves his blitz packages, and I would expect to see a lot of them this Saturday.  Depending on how UNC’s offense comes out, I think that will determine whether or not the Hokies play a lot of base defense or if they begin to run more of their nickel package, which they ran against Cincinnati.

8) The Tarheels need to concern themselves with containing the Hokies run game.  If the Hokies are unable to establish the run, you’ll likely see some desperation like last week, which resulted in some rushed and poorly made throws by Thomas in an attempt to make a play.  If Thomas tries to press, you’ll see the mistakes being made.

9) This season has definitely been a letdown so far, and not only for the fans or the coaches.  This Virginia Tech roster was overrated by local media, national media, fans and coaches alike.  I’m not sure how that many people (myself included) overrated this group so much, but it has happened.  All that’s left is to see what the real Virginia Tech does with the rest of the season.

10) I’ll go with 31-17 UNC

Catch my answers to the questions he asked me during our sit down over at Fighting Gobbler