Alex Conway & John Gwaltney Jr TarHeelIllustrated.com Staff
After suffering a stinging loss to ECU last week, UNC has a tough
task ahead of them as they head into Blacksburg to take on the Virginia
Tech Hokies in their second game in ACC play this weekend.
Larry Fedora made an excellent point on his radio show this
week. The Tar Heel coach said that if his team isn't careful they could
lose twice to the Pirates if they don't play Virginia Tech with their
Not that a game with Virginia Tech is easy to take lightly in the
first place. They have one of the more historically good programs in all
the ACC and currently sit at the top of the coastal division standings.
Without further ado, let's take a look at some key things to watch
for this week's match-up.
Bryn Renner's Health
The always dependable Bryn Renner suffered a left foot
injury late in the game against ECU.
There was some doubt this week as to whether he would be able to go
against Virginia Tech---the Tar Heels gave back-up quarterback
Marquise Williams a lot of first team reps this week---before
it was announced on Wednesday that Renner would in fact be a able to
"I'm going to let the trainers handle it (my ankle), just take it one
practice at a time and I plan on playing Saturday," Renner said on
Renner won't be the only quarterback working through a foot injury
Saturday, as Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas will be nursing a
right foot injury but will also start. One of the biggest concerns
heading into the season for UNC was their ability to break-in three new
offensive lineman and with Renner's ability to stay mobile now in
question, it will be up to this unit to keep their best offensive weapon
upright and healthy as they move into the most important stretch of
Since giving up 35 points in their opener against Alabama, Virginia
Tech has given up an average of 11 points to the four opponents since,
all coming during a four-game winning streak.
The highest point total, 21, came against Marshall in a
three-overtime thriller. In most seasons, Virginia Tech fields one of
the best, if not the best, defense in the ACC. This year's team could
potentially have one of the best defenses in the entire country.
"It's a Frank Beamer football team. I have the utmost respect for
Coach Beamer and what he's accomplished there at Virginia Tech, what
he's doing and what he's going to continue doing," said Fedora this
week. "Defensively, I'll be surprised if they don't finish up in the top
two or three in the country defensively. Bud Foster is the mastermind
behind it and always puts a great defense out there.
There playing really hard and they're having fun playing the game.
When you turn on the film and you watch them play, that's the way you're
supposed to play it."
A.J. Blue had a season high 68 yards rushing last week but
his most important contribution probably came after the game when he let
his teammates know that it's now or never time for them and their
After the ECU game, Blue felt that maybe some of his teammate's
attitudes weren't where they needed to be and he gave an impassioned
post-game talking too in the locker room after the loss.
"It was just something on my chest that I felt I had to get it off. I
just saw a couple guys, you know, being lackadaisical around the locker
room, the hotel and the movies and everything else. Sometimes that stuff
can carry over and when it carries over it can bite you in the behind,"
said Blue. "That's what it did.
I felt like it was my time to speak up. It's easy to hear stuff from
the coaches. We played football growing up since we was little, so when
you hear that, it's kind of second nature. But, when you hear it from a
guy that you're close to and a guy that you hopefully respect, I think
it means a lot more."
Aside from his leadership, Blue and his running back stable mates
would like to make a statement against a stingy Virginia Tech front
The void left by Giovanni Bernard is being felt in the sense
that he provided a comfort level for the other guys that they knew he
would get the job done if all else fails.
North Carolina (1-3,0-1) vs. Virginia Tech (4-1,1-0)
Virginia Tech at a glance
Colors: Chicago Maroon
& Burnt Orange
Lane Stadium (65,632)
Surface: Natural Grass
Record: 11-3 (7-1) Head
Coach: Frank Beamer
(262-128-4 overall, 220-105-2 at VT) Last Game: Beat Georgia Tech, 17-10, in Atlanta
on September 26 Official Site |
Rivals Site Roster |
Blue has mentioned this week that he had that sense when Bernard was
on the team last season and he wants to give that same feeling to his
fellow ball carriers this year. He's dealt with some injuries early but
looks like he's getting his legs back under him.
It's still unknown when exactly heralded freshman T.J. Logan
will see game action but every time the question is posed to Fedora he
sounds more optimistic each time that Logan should be back soon.
Logan looked good in practice when Tar Heel Illustrated was
on-hand Tuesday to observe and when he returns, could provide the home
run hitter the Heels' offense has lacked thus far.