Hokies Football: Keys to the Game for the Hokies Against #17 North Carolina

Gameday has arrived in Blacksburg with Frank Beamer preparing for the final time to lead the Virginia Tech Hokies out of the tunnel and onto Worsham Field with Enter Sandman playing in Lane Stadium. However, the Hokies will face a tough challenger in the #17 North Carolina Tar Heels who have won nine-straight games since losing their season opener to South Carolina.

Lane Stadium is solid out with Hokie Nation hoping that Virginia Tech can have one more magical moment with Frank Beamer at the helm. With that said, let’s take a look at our keys to the game.

Avoid Turnovers

The North Carolina Tar Heels haven’t had a turnover in their last three games, and North Carolina star QB Marquise Williams hasn’t thrown an interception since a 26-13 win against Virginia on October 24th. North Carolina has proven to be very good at avoiding turnovers along with having an explosive offense that has had 125 points in their past two games.

Michael Brewer and the Virginia Tech offense will have to do a very good job of protecting the football, and not giving any short fields to the Tar Heels. Virginia Tech has done a good job of forcing turnovers, but the offense will have to step and avoid stupid mistakes whether it be holding the ball too far away from your body or making a bad decision.

Brewer has been better this season protecting the football, but the senior quarterback needs to do everything he can to avoid having an interception as he has had each of the past two weeks. North Carolina’s defense has improved significantly under Gene Chizik, and will emphasize forcing turnovers.

Virginia Tech must protect the football or it will be a long afternoon in Blacksburg.

Get Pressure Without Blitzing

North Carolina has plenty of players who can make plays for Marquise Williams including wide receivers Ryan Switzer and Mack Hollins. The Tar Heels will likely go with 3 and 4 wide receiver formations for much of the game today, and the Hokies will need six defensive backs in coverage with Andrew Motuapuaka in a spy role with Williams having some mobility.

Virginia Tech’s defensive line is one of the top 2 or 3 in the ACC, but they face a talented North Carolina offensive line led by guard Landon Turner who seems likely to be a day 2 NFL Draft pick. Ken Ekanem and Dadi Nicolas have been starting to get to the quarterback after having some early-season struggles, but they will be tested today against a talented UNC offensive line.

North Carolina will run the ball some with the talented Elijah Hood, but the Hokies will need to get pressure while only bringing four or five players depending on the formation UNC uses. Ekanem and Nicolas will be ready to come out and make a statement in a big game on the national spotlight.

If Ekanem and Nicolas can get their fair share of pressure on Williams, the Hokies could be in great shape.

Control Your Emotions

There will be tons of emotions in this game today for winning this game for Frank Beamer, but the Hokies can not let their emotions get the best of them. Yes, the Hokies need to leave everything they have on the field, but they also need to be sharp and focused to get the job done.

Last week, the Hokies were able to get their emotions going and under control in the second quarter, and Virginia Tech took off by outscoring Georgia Tech 23-7 after the first quarter. Today, the Hokies will need to use those emotions to bring a high-level of intensity and focus against a very tough North Carolina team.

The emotions of this game are what makes this game hard to predict whether it will be a close game, or whether North Carolina may spoil the celebration and be in control today. Hopefully, the Hokies can get this one done for Frank Beamer.


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