n/r North Carolina @ #8 B.C.S. Virginia Tech:
TV coverage: ESPN and ESPN3
Announcers: Rece Davis, Craig James, Jesse Palmer and Jenn Brown
Kickoff: 8:02 post-meridian
Vegas line: VT is favored by 10.5 points
o/u=47 total points
$-line: VT is a 3.8:1 favorite, U.N.C. is a 1:3.15 dog
“We’re in the driver’s seat,”
“We control our own destiny.”
-Danny Coale, Senior night 2011-
Bingo that, as VT’s 2011 gridiron destiny is wide open indeed folks.
Well, if by wide-open you mean 3-4 game from undecided and yet with everything still within VT’s very own O&M grasp, than you Sir are correct.
If VT wins out, VT will very very likely end up in the Orange Bowl vs. the final Big East champion, and yes, that brings you know who into play. That however is putting the nuclear cart before the fallout shelter horse. That said and in the meantime, VT will play one home game in their final five or hopefully six contests. Or one singular shot to see mighty VT scrimmage at home in the final 53 odd days of the season.
That said, U.N.C. might just have something to say about all of that, ditto upstart and 7-3 hooVa and looming mega big-time A.c.c. championship game rematch with the one team to actually beat Vah.Tech this season … the Clemson Tigers.
Cart—–>horse—–>did it again
Nevertheless, although Danny Coale may or may not still be open –well, he will probably be open vs. a leaky looking U.N.C. secondary on Thursday night- and yet Danny Coale is perfectly spot on correct. VT wins it, VT is back in it, and that sequence really should read: stop-over in Charlotte, and on to sunny So.Beach down in the sunshine state vs. you know who.
Unless of course U.NC. or france upset the might O&M wagon.
U.N.C. Defense: 4-3 base (7 starters back)
Where is the beef might as well be the punch line for the U.N.C. front-7 on defense as this is one prime cut U.S.D.A. certified 7-man filets upfront. Right now, I’d say you are looking at no less than 3 Pro defenders outta the U.N.C. dLine and Linebacking corps combined. Which could be closer to 5 N.F.L.’ers when it is all said and done. That said, and to continue the analogy, there was something a little bit tenderized about U.N.C. in front-7 run fighting terms, as this bunch displayed a bit more finesse than their stud double-helix physiques would suggest on film. Now, that’s not to suggest that VT will run well vs. a rushing defense that is only allowing 108 yards per game. It is however to suggest that this is a very good rushing defense that is just a hair short of being dominate. As they were not quite the uber physical wrecking crew as their collective physical dossiers would have you believe. Some of this is due to something of a knock-off version of the Miami read-n-react mentality. As the Heels certifiably have the size and by and large the speed to subsidize such an approach. Likewise, they have the athletic ability to make individual plays up-field off said read-n-react approach from time-to-time. Which leaves one wondering where they would be if they suddenly shifted into a full-time attack oriented mentality and did more than the occasional Iso-run-blitz. Wanna add that I did see a little 3-4 here and there outta U.N.C. which is a new wrinkle from the Heels for this season; and that I also saw a lotta zone drops behind all of that in something of a switcharoo from U.N.C.
Off man on the edges on the offensive side of mid-field, pressing man on the edges on the defensive side of the field, man on any slot and no more than Tampa-1 behind all of that. The U.N.C. secondary play was something of a dichotomy on film, as they will tighten their man-to-man up and roll or mix that same tightness (or cushion) from side-to-side. They will also play some bump-n-run the likes of which you seldom see this side of the Oaktown Raiders and Haynes and Hanes lock-down Cb tandem in the mid-80’s. Now here is the kicker, that same coverage bunch that is not all that contact shy and will get physical with the VT Wideout’s arm-tackles all over the place in run support. Go fig’ on that one –although, there should be some room to run down-field if Wilson can just some how break contain on the independently superlative U.N.C. front-7.
U.N.C. offense: Pro or bunch sets: (6 starters return)
Really liked what I saw outta the U.N.C. oLine, as they sure do all they can to create user-friendly blocking angles at the point of attack. They block up they block down (the oLine version of a defensive-lineman slanting), they pull and they trap. My word for the forward thrust that is quite a bit of old-fashioned helmet-on-helmet man blocking upfront is: “beefy”. As the 1980’s Wendy’s commercials would be proud … “Where’s the beef?” The beef is upfront on a very downhill looking U.N.C. rushing attack that could quite possibly give Bud Lite some real live fits.
That said, I saw a unanticipated amount of counter or misdirection type work behind the Qb after a healthy does of fundamentally basic Dive plays to Giovani Bernard the stud VHT (very highly touted) blue-chip true-freshman 5-10, 205 lb. Tb outta Florida who has already cracked the millennium mark (1,000 yards) this season (1,012). This has me wondering out-loud if U.N.C. will alter their rushing script to afford Houston a bigger part. As we all know what he did to VT when he single handedly plowed the New River Valley by his ownself to close the show in 2009.
I am seeing a mix of Pro sets (2 standardized Wr’s) or bunch-looks pre-snap from the Heels with motion or Te or H-back bunch looks which diffuses downfield after the snap. Look for play-action passing which will only become more effective as the night wears on if, the Heels can establish a base rushing attack early-on on Thursday night. As passing goes, Renner does a lotta medium oriented work, and now that I see this in breaking tape, his stellar rookie season completion percentage (71.4%) makes a whole lot more sense. Most of the short passing is screening and there is just not all that much when it comes to truly deep homerun throws outta this U.N.C. passing attack. In fact Reener looked a little bit like Wile E. Coyote or a bit noodle armed when throwing some of his long balls deep on film. Kinda has a Bryan Randall feel to his deep throws which could very well allow the Bud Lite Fs and Rover to cheat forward just a bit.
Illation, conclusion(s) and OPT digits:
I have to confess that I toyed with the upset pick here, after not only witnessing a stellar Virginia Tech performance last week in the ATL; after also witnessing VT empty several high-octane magazines down in the ATL both emotionally and physically as well. In fact even while pecking these very words out; I am still drawn to picking the healthier and more physical football team which is clearly U.N.C. That said, three things swung me in the direction of Virginia Tech, with one caveat firmly attached.
- First up, U.N.C. is just not a very possessive offense as T.O.P. (time of possession goes). Only 81st best as such as the Heels are just not clock grinders by trade.
- Second, U.N.C. is only, wait for it, yup, you guessed it, 81st best in third-down conversion percentage (38.14%) which has a whole helluva a lot to do with point number one.
- Finally, I’ll throw in the Lo.FM (Longfield Management) nugget that U.N.C. has really been chasing the sticks of late. Both in TFL (tackles for a loss) allowed and in Sacks allowed terms. You screw the pooch and wanna try to feel all froggy going up against second and long or third and long vs. Bud Lite and you typically pay the price. A heavy price at that most times, as Renner is listed as having 49 official carries for -82 yards already this year. Of those 49 alleged carries, 21 of ‘em have come on sacks, as Renner has rushed for more than 10 yards only once for the entire season. Now notice that Renner has been on skates every since September ended with a whooping -114 in reverse in his last 7 games!
Lame Duck syndrome 1o1: something just looks uninspired about U.N.C. on film men. Their wins are just not that epic looking, and they have dropped 3 of their last 4 for a reason. That reason is not individual talent, nor is it a big bad-ass looking oLine, nor is it a stud rookie Tb, nor is it a promising youngling at Pivot who should have been a legacy Punter/Qb combo at Virginia Tech. There is just something ‘rong here and it also ain’t health. You can see the raw individual Heel talent on film plain as day, as they do make several breath-taking plays per game that only Coach God can coach up. You also see a lack of focus or outright sloppiness at times as well. This sky-blue crew looks like it is suffering from desynchronosis after playing a football game halfway around the world. Or jet-lag as it is commonly referred to. They are Gestalt Theory raised to the negative one power or a squad that is less than the sum of its parts. Hence, this writer is left wondering who will be coaching U.N.C. next year?
In three of the four U.N.C. L’s this season, Renner has thrown 2 or more picks, with a 66% completion percentage. That’s 5% off his season norm, which is not entirely backbreaking in-and-of-itself. So there’s you in-game barometer, look for 2 INT’s from Renner and you will most likely be looking at a VT win. That said, and although a lotta key indicators do point to a Hokie victory, I wanna see what the Thursday afternoon forecast has in store for the New River Valley. If it is cold and sloppy looking, that would favor the more physical football team, no matter how sloppy they have played of late.
“In peace sons bury their fathers.
In war fathers bury their sons.
Are we at war father?”
– Helen, the Immortals-
I’ll give you $41,667 worth reasons why you should consider picking U.N.C. to get beat.
Yes, the cold weather certainly favors the bigger, badder, meaner looking U.N.C. frontlines on a nite where passing will be sparse or less down in a downright cold and blustery looking New River Valley. What with winds upwards of 20 M.P.H. and game-time lows approaching 25 Fahrenheit. That kinda chilled out forecast favors a ground attack and in no way shape or from favors an aerial assault in my book. That would indeed favor the Heels as mono-a-mono trench warfare goes. Ergo:
If U.N.C. gets off to a good start, or even manages to stick around for a few quarters of play; the longer that kinda favorably power-blue scenario goes, the more things slowly begin to tilt in a rather upsetting manner.
Well, it would if for not reading the fine-print in lame-duck in-waiting Head football Coach Everett Withers U.N.C. interim contract. Said contract has made an allowance for him to return to his former Assistant Coach position no matter what after this season ends for two more years gar-ron-teed! To give credit where credit is due, Steve Berkowitz scooped this story for USAToday a couple of weeks back. Here it is if you need any further varicosity or if you just want some more sky-blue dirt.
Now, all that to say, Humpty-Dumpty and I have still not fallen off the proverbial fence; as this game does favor U.N.C., if U.N.C. is actually ready to play. Of which not one single contact that I enjoy seems to know the answer to. So I’ll side with VT as they do have something to play for, albeit it just barely, in what I consider to be a shaky pick by my ownself to be 100% forthcoming.
To put all of this on its lowest ground … right now I’m betting on VT simply wanting this one more than U.N.C. does, and I’m also betting on the Heels to simply want to come in outta the Worsham Field cold A.S.A.P.
Virginia Tech=24, U.N.C.=23
 Steve Berkowitz, Everett Withers’ deal with North Carolina paying $41,667 a month, Updated 2011-11-07 8:56 PM, http://content.usatoday.com/communities/campusrivalry/post/2011/11/everett-withers-deal-with-north-carolina-paying-41667-a-month/1 (17th November 2011 A.D.)