UNC Football: Staff Picks Week 5: vs Virginia Tech

Sep 22, 2022; Blacksburg, Virginia, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies wide receiver Kaleb Smith (80) makes a touchdown catch over West Virginia Mountaineers cornerback Wesley McCormick (11) during the second quarter at Lane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 22, 2022; Blacksburg, Virginia, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies wide receiver Kaleb Smith (80) makes a touchdown catch over West Virginia Mountaineers cornerback Wesley McCormick (11) during the second quarter at Lane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports /

The UNC football team opens ACC play on Saturday, as the Virginia Tech Hokies visit Chapel Hill.

The UNC football team failed to start 4-0 for the first time since 1997 with last week’s home loss to Notre Dame.  With ACC play beginning on Saturday, the Tar Heels have a lot to fix if they want to make a run at the Coastal Division crown.

Can the Tar Heels defend home turf and open conference play with a victory against Virginia Tech on Saturday?  Find out what our staff thinks below!

Nick Delahanty

I’m not going to lie… I really struggled with this pick this week.

As much as I want to believe the Tar Heels will kick off ACC play with a strong performance, I’m still having trouble trusting the team’s defensive unit.

Yes, they held a players’ only defensive team meeting, and of course, they want to figure out their struggles. However, this isn’t an issue that will be fully fixed overnight, as it will take some time (and plenty of adjustments to do so).

I will say this: even though the Tar Heels’ defense has made struggling offenses look good, I believe that they have the ability to slow down Virginia Tech’s offensive attack. If they just get a few key stops, I think that it will be more than enough for Drake Maye and company to capitalize.

Give me the Tar Heels in a close one, but this game could seriously go either way.

Prediction: North Carolina 35, Virginia Tech 28

Isaac Schade

North Carolina will still host Virginia Tech in football this weekend to kick off the
conference portion of the schedule. The Tar Heel offense will look to continue to hum
under impressive redshirt freshman Drake Maye. The big question mark will continue to
be: can the defense rise to the occasion and keep the anemic Virginia Tech offense at

Both the Tar Heels and Hokies have a massive chasm between their total offense and
total defense ranking. For UNC, the offense is 16th in total yards per game (one of 16
schools averaging over 500 ypg) but the defense is just 126th of the 131 teams in the
FBS. As for VT, they are the exact flip-flop: 10th in total defense and 107th in total
offense. Something has to give, right?

The weather should also wreak havoc on this game. Will Maye be able to continue the
torrid start to his career or will mother nature prove to be too much? Whichever team
handles the elements better will likely come out victorious.

The line is UNC -9, but that’s too much separation for a team that’s only won one game
by more than one possession (Florida A&M). Give me the Tar Heels to win straight up,
but the Hokies cover in a game with a lower score than expected due to the weather:

Prediction: North Carolina 28, Virginia Tech 24

Bryant Baucom

After a disappointing performance against Notre Dame, the Tar Heels will look to bounce back as they begin conference play.  With questionable weather in the area, the running game could be heavily involved, something the North Carolina defense struggled stopping.

All eyes were on Gene Chizik’s unit this week this as they’re still looking for answers.  The Virginia Tech Hokies may provide them with a chance to silence some critics, as they have struggled on the offensive side of the ball.

We all know what Drake Maye and the Tar Heel offense is capable of, but with questionable weather nothing is guaranteed.   Although I don’t expect the UNC defense to turn in a perfect performance, I expect progress and signs of growth.

North Carolina will rebound from last week’s performance and move to 1-0 in ACC play.

Prediction: North Carolina 38, Virginia Tech 27

Mark DeMott

After last week’s performance against a Notre Dame team that is offensively challenged, it is hard to expect anything from the North Carolina defense.  Until some improvements are seen from that unit during game action, I am going to anticipate that this team will need to be prepared to win a shootout every time that they take the field.

Luckily for UNC, the Tar Heel offense has continued to impress, as Drake Maye threw for five touchdowns against a talented Fighting Irish defense last week.  With his top two receivers, Josh Downs and Antoine Green, back on the field and producing (each had two touchdown receptions against ND) he should continue to put up big numbers.  UNC will need to find a way to get the run game going again to take some of the pressure off of their freshman quarterback.

As far as Virginia Tech is concerned, they haven’t been very impressive in the first four weeks of Brent Pry’s tenure.  In September, wins against Wofford and Boston College were bookended with a loss to Old Dominion and a home blowout loss to West Virginia.  The Hokies’ offense is far from explosive, averaging just 20.3 points per game, good for 113th out of 131 FBS teams.  However, UNC’s defense has had a tendency to make offenses look much better than they really are.

Even with the struggles of Virginia Tech’s offense thus far, I am expecting another shootout.  I think this one goes back and forth with the talent of the Carolina offense taking over in the end.  Give me the Heels, and give me the over.

Prediction: North Carolina 45, Virginia Tech 38

Aaron Conrad

As frustrating as last week was, the Tar Heels have a chance to start to course correct a bit against a Virginia Tech team that is struggling. Their offense is not firing on all cylinders like Notre Dame was. The UNC defense had a players-only meeting this week so we can all hope that this is what was needed to create better communication and unity. Facing a struggling offense should help. The Virginia Tech defense has had its issues competing for an entire game as well. This should be a welcome site for the high-powered UNC offense. I like the Heels in this one.

Prediction: North Carolina 48, Virginia Tech 31

Staff Standings

Isaac: 3-1

Bryant: 3-1

Mark: 3-1

Aaron: 3-1

Nick: 2-2

Next. UNC Football vs Virginia Tech Game Preview. dark

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