Quick Hitters: North Carolina vs. Virginia Tech

Oct 1, 2022; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; DUPLICATE***North Carolina Tar Heels defensive lineman Deems May (88)***North Carolina Tar Heels tight end Kamari Morales (88) signals a first down in the fourth quarter at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 1, 2022; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; DUPLICATE***North Carolina Tar Heels defensive lineman Deems May (88)***North Carolina Tar Heels tight end Kamari Morales (88) signals a first down in the fourth quarter at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports /

Isaac Schade presents Quick Hitters from UNC Football’s 41-10 home win over Virginia Tech on Saturday afternoon.


Condensed Game:

  • North Carolina responded perfectly to their first loss of the season, drubbing Virginia Tech 41-10 and moving to 1-0 in conference play.
  • The Tar Heels took a 21-3 lead early in the second quarter. While it felt like Carolina had all the momentum at the point, one would do well to remember UNC had the exact same lead against Georgia State (as pointed out by CL Brown on Twitter) at nearly the identical moment in the game. The Panthers proceeded to reel off 25 straight to take a late 28-21 3rd quarter lead. There were no worries on this day though as Mack Brown’s team reeled off the final 20 points of the game after the Hokies made the score 21-10.
  • The difference in response today was immediate. After Tech scored the touchdown that made it 21-10 (their lone touchdown of the game, by the way), Drake Maye had just 28 seconds and one timeout remaining before halftime. No big deal – three plays and 22 game seconds later, Maye had Carolina in position for a Noah Burnette 44-yard field goal, which he made. But the momentum didn’t stop there. Carolina stopped the Hokies to start the second half, then went on a touchdown drive of their own and the game suddenly felt over at 31-10.
  • Drake Maye just keeps doing Drake Maye things. He’s only five games into his college career as a starter, but the consistency displayed has already made his high-level production the rule rather than the exception. Today the redshirt freshman quarterback threw three touchdowns and added two more on the ground. It was the fourth time in the first five games that he’s been responsible for five total touchdowns. In the past 25 seasons, only two ACC quarterbacks have done so more IN AN ENTIRE SEASON – Lamar Jackson (2016) and Tajh Boyd (2013) each had five such games.
  • For the season Maye has now produced 22 total touchdowns (19 pass, three rush) and just one solitary interception (Georgia State). And even that one interception should not have been one as the conference has since admitted that pass interference should have been called on the play.
  • Maye passed for a career-high 363 yards, which gives him three 300-yard games to start the season. Even in the two games he didn’t reach 300, he felt just shy (294 vs. Florida A&M, 284 at Georgia State).
  • There was also a scary moment in Drake Maye’s day as the first-year starter is still learning how and when to take risks. In the third quarter, he went airborne near the goal line and came down awkwardly on his neck and head area. At first glance, it appeared that he was legitimately injured, but thankfully the issue was seemingly nothing worse than getting his air knocked out. I’ll continue to say it: Drake simply has to be smarter for the sake of his team.
  • Case in point: Jacobly Criswell came in for the next play (a third down), which resulted in a pass with a little too much air on it. Consequently, Carolina had to settle for a field goal. It was just the second red zone trip all season that didn’t result in a touchdown. The other was a kneel down at the end of the Florida A&M game. In total, the Heels have 20 red zone trips this season, scoring on 19 of them, 18 of which have been touchdowns.
  • Turns out that the players-only meeting was a win for the defense. For the first time all season, Carolina held their opponent under 20 points. For the first time all season, Carolina held their opponent scoreless for an entire half (the second half). Was the defense perfect? By no means. Did this performance come against a woeful Virginia Tech offense? Yes. So let’s not rush to declare that the defense is fixed, BUT there is certainly reason for cautious optimism.
  • Cedric Gray (eight) and Power Echols (seven) were the top two leading tacklers for the third game in a row. At least one of the linebacking duo has led the team in all five games and they’ve both been top three in tackles in all five games.
  • It’s a welcome sight to look at Virginia Tech’s second-half drive chart: punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, turnover on downs.
  • Following the news of Jonathan Kim’s decision to transfer, Noah Burnette handled Carolina’s kickoff duties. He finished with touchbacks on five of seven attempts.
  • Due to the blowout, Mack Brown was finally able to get Drake Maye some rest and Jacolby Criswell some reps. Criswell came in with 7:41 left in the fourth quarter.
  • Carolina came two Bryson Nesbit receiving yards away from having two 100-yard receivers for the first time this season. Josh Downs caught eight balls for 120 yards while Nesbit had four for 98. The last time the Heels had a pair of 100-yard receivers was November 14, 2020 in UNC’s 59-53 victory over Wake Forest. Dazz Newsome had 189 yards on 10 catches while Dyami Brown had 163 yards on eight receptions.
  • Speaking of Nesbit, it was a productive day for Tar Heel tight ends. We’ve already discussed Nesbit. Kamari Morales added three receptions for 29 yards and a touchdown while John Copenhaver had two for 35. All three had multiple catches while both Nesbit and Morales hauled in a touchdown.
  • One of the major questions coming into the game was how the running game would fare. UNC’s rushing yards had declined each of the first four games – 314, 215, 183, 66. Those 66 yards were against Notre Dame who was allowing 142.3 rush yards per game. Virginia Tech’s rush defense came into the game even more stingy, allowing just 86 rushing yards per game. While the result was still the second lowest total of the season, Carolina finished with 170 yards, just two shy of exactly doubling the Hokies’ per game average. It wasn’t flashy but it was enough to create the space necessary for the passing game to do what it does.
  • How about the Tar Heels on fourth down this season? Coach Brown has been going for it on fourth down with regularity, and not just going for it but also converting. Carolina is 9-11 on the season, including 3-3 today.
  • While there was rain off and on throughout the game, and while it was somewhat a factor, the potential torrential residual downpour from the hurricane thankfully never materialized.
  • This season is the 25th anniversary of the 1997 UNC team that went 11-1, losing only to Florida State. Appropriately, that team was honored at today’s game. Why appropriate? They absolutely throttled their Gator Bowl opponent that season on New Year’s Day. That opponent was none other than these same Virginia Tech Hokies. Interestingly, the 42-3 score of that bowl game was rather similar to today’s 41-10 result.

Box Score

Mack Brown Postgame Press Conference

Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina football game. Next up is a road game against Miami on Saturday, October 8. Kickoff is at 4:00 pm ET on ESPN2.

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