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September 18, 2013

Ga. Tech - UNC Capsule

Football Preview

In the olden days, before electronically controlled scoreboard, people had to manually remove and replace the scoreboards at sporting events.

Thankfully for whoever was in charge of operating the scoreboard at Kenan Memorial Stadium last year on November 10, changing the numbers on the scoreboard was only a button click away from being accomplished.

118 points, 51 first downs, 1,085 total yards and amazingly, only three turnovers later, Georgia Tech defeated North Carolina 68-50 in one of the most impressive displays of offensive football the entire season would bring us.

Both Larry Fedora and Paul Johnson would probably appreciate a little more balance this go-around, albeit they would probably keep the offensive points if they had to, so long as the other team cut their totals by about half.

As we get ready for UNC's home opener, let's take a look at a few things that could help decide Saturday's outcome.

Cut Blocking

UNC barely made it out of training camp with a full roster on defense.

That might be a slight exaggeration but not by much. Several offensive players, most notably Jack Tabb, spent time getting reps on defense just in case their number need calling.

After a rash of injuries that saw as many as three guys go down in a single day, the Tar Heels don't have nearly the depth on the defensive side as they would have hoped at this point in the season.

This a game that has to concern the coaches in ways that have nothing to do with the scoreboard.

Georgia Tech is notorious for cut blocking tacklers low, early and often as they clear running lanes for their triple-option attack. That can often have disastrous results for unaware players not properly defending themselves against the low attacks.

That's not to call the Yellow Jackets a dirty team. It's a perfectly legal tactic and one that isn't exclusive to them or their schemes. But they use it more often than most and because of this is it is dangerous for teams and players that aren't expecting it because it isn't as familiar to them.

During his weekly radio show, Fedora said he didn't allow his players to cut block each other in practice during live simulations leading up to the Georgia Tech last season. He decided to take a different route this go-around and let his players go low in hopes it would better prepare them for the maneuver on game day.

Most importantly, nobody wants to see anybody get hurt. For the Tar Heels, this could be a game that could have ramifications beyond the scoreboard and here's hoping that's simply not the case.

Vad Lee

Vad Lee has 314 yards passing and 128 yards rushing on the year thus far but his six touchdown throws are the thing keeping Coach Fedora up at night.

The dual-threat Durham native and the Yellow Jackets unveiled the "Diamond" formation, otherwise known as a full-house "Pistol" package, against the Duke Blue Devils this past weekend, something that didn't go unnoticed by the Tar Heel coach.

"He's very talented. You know, obviously he can run. He does a great job running the football. He has great command of the triple-option. He has really picked it up and run with it. Now, against Duke the other night they snapped probably 25 snaps in this gun three-back offense," said Fedora on his weekly radio show this week. "That's a new thing that they're doing. He threw for four touchdown passes. So he can throw the ball. He can beat you either way. That makes it much more difficult to defend. He can do both."

It's a common misconception that the Jackets will simply look to overpower teams with the ground game. More accurately, they use the ground game to keep themselves out of less-than-desirable third-and-long situations and to set-up gigantic play-action pass plays down the field.

Combine their old-school offensive philosophies (setting up the pass by running the ball) with a new-school dynamic playmaker like Lee and you've got a deadly combination.

North Carolina
(1-1,0-0)
vs.
Georgia Tech
(2-0,1-0)
Game Day
Line: Georgia Tech by 6
Date: Saturday, September 21
Time: 12:00 pm
Stadium: Bobby Dodd Stadium (55,000)

TV: ESPN (Watch Online)
Radio: THSN; SIRIUSXM
(S 91,XM 91)
Weather: Atlanta Forecast
Series: Georgia Tech leads the all-time series 27-18-3

Georgia Tech at a glance
Location: Atlanta, Ga.
Nickname: Yellow Jackets
Colors: Old Gold & White
Stadium: Bobby Dodd Stadium (55,000)
Surface: Natural Grass
Conference: Atlantic Coast
2012 Record: 7-7 (5-3)
Head Coach: Paul Johnson (149-65 overall, 42-26 at GT)
Last Game: Defeated Duke 38-14 in Durham

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Roster | Schedule | Stats


Georgia Tech Returning Leaders
Passing: Vad Lee
(15-27, 314 yds, 6 TD)

Rushing: Vad Lee
(28 carries, 125 yds, 4.5 avg, 2 TD)

Receiving: Robert Godhigh
(5 rec, 83 yds, 16.6 avg, 2 TD)


Georgia Tech Rankings
Passing: 157.0 YPG (107th)
Rushing: 356.0 YPG (3rd)
Point For: 54.0 PPG (3rd)
Points Against: 7.0 PPG (1st)

North Carolina Returning Leaders
Passing: Bryn Renner
(49-77, 533 yds, 2 TD)
Rushing: Romar Morris
(25 carries, 115 yds, 4.6 avg, 2 TD)
Receiving: Mark McNeil
(5 rec, 99 yds, 19.8 avg, 0 TD)

North Carolina Rankings
Passing: 285.5 YPG (33rd)
Rushing: 116.5 YPG (99th)
Point For: 25.0 PPG (82nd)
Points Against: 23.5 PPG (56th)

Lee could have the type of season that might have him in the running for ACC Player of the Year when it's all said and done.Getting off blocks and finding Lee before he can get a full head of steam will be the key to victory for UNC.

UNC Running Game

It doesn't look like T.J. Logan will be ready to go this week but he is getting closer according to sources close to the situation.

With Logan still on sidelines and the Tar Heel offensive line still gelling with three new members, UNC is relying on guys like Romar Morris and A.J. Blue to get the job done.

While they haven't been bad so far, they also have met the expectations of the coaching staff just yet either.

"I think you've got four new parts. I think you've got three O-linemen and a tailback that you've taken out of the mix, who were all pretty good. I just think we have some growing pains, really, to get those four parts to work together. We're going to have some growing pains, and we've got to work through them," said offensive coordinator Blake Anderson last week.

Regardless of the growing pains, the numbers are down from where they were last year but that doesn't mean this crew can't get it together.

Freshmen Khris Francis, Ryan Switzer (more of an A-back, but still) and the aforementioned Logan are all ridiculously talented and perfectly suited for this type of offense.

Morris won the starting job late in training camp but most then, and still now, consider this a "running back by committee" type deal, especially while Blue continues to get back to full strength after dealing with a leg injury in the preseason.




 

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