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The North Carolina Tarheels come to town tomorrow on a huge recruiting weekend for the Hokies. They are coming in suffering from back to back losses. This game makes me think of the Pittsburgh game last year, because Carolina has nothing to lose. Last year I remember Bud Foster comparing the Panthers to a wounded animal that was backed into a corner. By this he meant Pittsburgh was backed into a corner and had no way out but to fight with everything they had in them to escape, just like a wounded animal fighting for its’ life. As we all remember, oh so well, that animal unleashed successfully fought for its’ life last year when the Panthers beat us. Well I feel like the Tarheels are in the same situation. With their season already not going as they had hoped, they have nothing to lose when they play the Hokies on Saturday. Teams can be very dangerous when they are in this situation, but hopefully the Hokies learned a lesson from last year.
1. Defense Needs To Continue Being Dominant
Despite Carolina’s record coming into this game, the Hokies cannot afford to take this one lightly. Yes, we have beat the past two teams they have lost to, but that’s all thrown down the drain. Every year there are games that Tech should win, but they don’t and you are left scratching your head wondering why it happened again. Well this could possibly be another one of those scenarios. In order for history to not repeat itself, the defense is going to have to play with the same intensity as it has, except for the Marshall game, all season. They need to continue to pressure the quarterback and force turnovers. Detrick Bonner could be a key player in this game. He will be put into some one on one situation where he must not get beat like he has so far this year. If he is unable to do this Carolina has an offense that can put up some points.
2. Offense Must Put Points on the Board
The defense all season has done their job and the offense hasn’t. Last week against Georgia Tech the offense looked the best it had all season, except for the ground game, and the Hokies are going to have to build on that. Last week’s performance hopefully gave Logan Thomas and the receiving core some confidence that they can go out there and get the job done. This offensive line has got to find a way though to get some running room, so this game doesn’t solely rely on Thomas’s arm and legs. I believe our defense can slow Carolina’s capable offense down, but our offense will still have to put up some points their selves.
3. No More Missed Field Goals
I thought for sure Cody Journell would have a bounce back game last week, but instead he almost cost the Hokies the game. He had an easy field (yes it was at a weird angle but still) that would have all but sealed the game and missed it. Those points being left off the board at some point can come back to bite you and if we are not careful it could cost us a loss. As hard as it has been for the offense to put up points consistently we have to capitalize on every opportunity, even if it’s just three points.
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4. Win the Turnover Battle
Logan Thomas needs to make sure he carries over last week’s performance, instead of returning to his prior ones. The best stat Thomas put up last week was he threw no interceptions. He took care of the ball and just took whatever the defense gave him. In order to increase the winning streak to five games, he must again take care of the football. Along with that our defense needs to continue doing what they do and pick off some more passes.
5. Don’t Give Carolina Any Signs of Life
Since the Tarheels seem to be in the same situation as the Panthers were last season we must not let them catch a second wind. They are a wounded animal backed into a corner and we must put them down while we have the chance. If we allow some big plays to their offense or throw some picks, then we are going to give them life. If we do that this could end up in another game we should have won but failed to do so. I really hope our team learned from last year not to underestimate opponents and think that just because we are supposed to win we will; because obviously that is not the case. They are going to have to fight for every win, because no one is just going to lie down and let you run all over them.
I really think the Hokies will pull this one out as long as they come focused. But if they come out flat, thinking it’s going to be a walk in the park they have another thing coming. I feel like the senior leadership, especially after last year, won’t let the team have that mindset. The Tarheels are a talented football that can beat us if we take them for their record instead of what they are capable of.
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