Alex Conway & John Gwaltney Jr
In the olden days, before electronically controlled scoreboard,
people had to manually remove and replace the scoreboards at sporting
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.
UNC barely made it out of training camp with a full roster on
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 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)
Georgia Tech at a glance
Colors: Old Gold &
Bobby Dodd Stadium (55,000)
Surface: Natural Grass
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 Official Site |
Rivals Site Roster |
Georgia Tech Returning Leaders
Passing: Vad Lee
(15-27, 314 yds, 6 TD)
Rushing: Vad Lee
125 yds, 4.5 avg, 2 TD)
(5 rec, 83 yds, 16.6 avg, 2 TD)
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
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.