Heel Tough Blog: Virginia Tech Preview

@TarHeelFootball

Saturday, the Heels will pack up and head on the road to Blacksburg, VA as they prepare to face the Hokies in hostile Lane Stadium. The Heels will be looking get their season on the right track, while winning back-to-back games in Blacksburg.

Team Breakdowns

Heels

The Heels offense finally showed some signs of life last week behind Michael Carter’s (61 rush, 388 yds, 7 TD, 4 rec, 13 yds) big day. Jordon Brown (75 rush, 327 yds, 3 TD, 20 rec, 125 yds) has had his moments this season, as well and should combine with Carter to lead the Heels offense going forward. The passing game continues to be a huge question mark, as both Chazz Surratt (100–170, 1167 yds, 6 TD, 3 INT, 69 rush, 179 yds, 4 TD) and Brandon Harris (31–60, 322 yds, TD, 6 INT, 22 rush, 54 yds) have had their struggles this season. The young receiving corps is still trying to find someone to step forward. Anthony Ratliff-Williams (17 rec, 268 yds, 2 TD) and Jordan Cunningham (18 rec, 230 yds) have both had big games, but haven’t been able to consistently produce. The offensive line continues to struggle in pass protection, but took steps in the right direction in run blocking.

The defense has become the strength of this team. The secondary has recovered from their early season slump. M.J. Stewart (23 ttkl, 4.0 TFL, 2.0 scks, 8 PD) and Myles Dorn (41 ttkl, 1.0 TFL, FF, FR, 2 INT, 3 PD) have stepped their game up as the season has gone along. Even with Donnie Miles (37 ttkl, 0.5 TFL, INT, PD) out for the year, this secondary is in good shape. The linebacking corps has struggled to replace Andre Smith (21 ttkl, 0.5 TFL, INT, PD), but Cole Holcomb (68 ttkl, 2.0 TFL, FR) and Cayson Collins (61 ttkl, 4.5 TFL, 2.0 scks, FF, FR, PD) have kept the unit strong. The defensive line has been the most stable unit the entire season. Malik Carney (31 ttkl, 8.0 TFL, 3.5 scks, FF) continues to lead the unit, while Jason Strowbridge (19 ttkl, 2.0 TFL, 1.0 sck, FF) and Aaron Crawford (17 ttkl, 3.0 TFL, 2.5 scks) have teamed with him to form that stout defensive line.

The special teams are in good shape. Tom Sheldon (32 punts, 46.4 avg) was punting great until his injury, but Hunter Lent (10 punts, 47.5 avg) looked great on Saturday. Anthony Ratliff-Williams (23 KR, 26.3 avg, TD) continues to be one of the ACC’s most effective returners, while M.J. Stewart (9 PR, 11.0 avg) has taken over the punt return duties with success. Freeman Jones (20–20 XP, 4–8 FG, Long of 39) has been the only downside on special teams, as he’s struggled with consistency.

Virginia Tech

The Hokies offense is not like most Hokie offenses in the past, as it is extremely pass heavy. Josh Jackson (126–192, 1700 yds, 13 TD, 4 INT) has proved quickly that Jerod Evans’ departure may not have been as detrimental as once thought. It helps to have game breaking receiver Cam Phillips (42 rec, 608 yds, 5 TD) in his arsenal. Sean Savoy (27 rec, 337 yds, 3 TD) has been a strong №2 option. The running game has struggled to this point, but five different backs have over 100 yards. The offensive line has been strong all season.

Defensively, the secondary has been locking passing games down, a signature of Bud Foster’s defenses. Greg Stroman (6 ttkl, INT, 8 PD), Adonis Alexander (18 ttkl, 2.0 TFL, 1.0 sck, 3 PD) and Brandon Facyson (10 ttkl, 1.0 TFL, 3 PD) form one of the best cornerback trios in the country, while Terrell Edmunds (39 ttkl, 1.5 TFL, 1.0 sck, INT, 3 PD) and Mook Reynolds (46 ttkl, 5.0 TFL, 1.0 sck) form a strong safety duo. The linebacking corps is just as loaded, with both Tremaine Edmunds (49 ttkl, 4.5 TFL, 1.5 scks, 2 FF) and Andrew Motuapuaka (44 ttkl, 4.5 TFL, 2.5 scks, FF, FR, 2 PD) having good seasons. The defensive is one of the better in the ACC, anchored by Tim Settle (18 ttkl, 6.0 TFL, 2.0 scks, PD) and Trevon Hill (22 ttkl, 5.0 TFL, 2.0 scks, FR, INT).

The special teams have been up and down. The returners, James Clark (5 KR, 26.0 avg), Henri Murphy (5 KR, 22.6 avg) and Greg Stroman (19 PR, 10.0 avg) have all have strong season. Joey Slye (22–22 XP, 11–17 FG, Long of 50), normally almost a sure thing, has not been as automatic this year. Oscar Bradburn (31 punts, 43.8 avg) has been solid, but nothing overwhelming.

Team Stats

Heels

Off. PPG: 23.7 (97th)

Off. PYPG: 212.7 (74th)

Off. RYPG: 144.1 (87th)

Off. TYPG: 356.8 (99th)

Off. 3rd Down %: 29.5% (124th)

Def. PPG: 31.1 (96th)

Def. PYPG: 231.4 (79th)

Def. RYPG: 229.4 (115th)

Def. TYPG: 460.8 (114th)

Def. 3rd Down %: 38.3%

Sacks: 16.0 (31st)

Interceptions: 5 (66th)

Turnover Margin: -3

Virginia Tech

Off. PPG: 33.3 (44th)

Off. PYPG: 288.3 (26th)

Off. RYPG: 178.7 (56th)

Off. TYPG: 467.0 (25th)

Off. 3rd Down %: 40.4% (56th)

Def. PPG: 13.7 (7th)

Def. PYPG: 198.3 (37th)

Def. RYPG: 121.8 (31st)

Def. TYPG: 320.1 (23rd)

Def. 3rd Down %: 25.8%

Sacks: 12.0 (68th)

Interceptions: 4 (84th)

Turnover Margin: +1

Keys To The Game

Run, Run and Run Some More

Michael Carter brought the Heels offense signs of life last week against Virginia and right now there is no sign on a passing game. At the moment, the running game is the Heels best chance to produce offensively, so run the ball as often as possible.

Win The Turnover Battle

Last week, losing the turnover battle came back to bite the Heels. Not throwing three interceptions would be a start, but it’s important that the defense can continue to create turnovers.

Score In Other Ways Besides Offense

The offense has not been getting the ball in the end zone, so maybe a defensive or special teams touchdown might just be what jump starts the offense.

Injury Report

Heels

OUT- Austin Proehl (collarbone), Andre Smith (knee), Thomas Jackson (knee), Rontavius “Toe” Groves (knee), William Sweet (undisclosed), Carl Tucker (undisclosed), Tyler Powell (knee), Jacob Schmidt (undisclosed), Antwuan Branch (undisclosed), D.J. Ford (undisclosed), Noah Turner (leg), Luke Elder (undisclosed), Jesse Cuccia (undisclosed), Devin Perry (collarbone), Corey Bell Jr. (undisclosed), Donnie Miles (arm)

QUESTIONABLE- Tom Sheldon (undisclosed), Tyler Pritchett (undisclosed), Ben Stobaugh (undisclosed)

Virginia Tech

OUT- Divine Deablo (foot), Caleb Farley (knee), Phil Patterson (knee), Tavante Beckett (suspension)

DOUBTFUL- C.J. Carroll (foot)

QUESTIONABLE- Steven Peoples (ankle)

PROBABLE- Cam Phillips (ankle)

Expected Starting Lineups

Heels

Offense

QB

#12 Chazz Surratt, RFr. OR

# 6 Brandon Harris, Sr.*

RB

# 2 Jordon Brown, So. OR

# 8 Michael Carter, Fr.

WR

# 17 Anthony Raltiff-Williams, So.

WR

#85 Roscoe Johnson, RFr.

WR

#10 Jordan Cunningham, Sr.

TE

#82 Brandon Fritts, Jr.

LT

#75 Bentley Spain, Sr.

LG

#58 Nick Polino, So. OR

#64 Khaliel Rodgers, Sr.*

C

#54 Cam Dillard, Sr.*

RG

#71 R.J. Prince, Sr.

RT

#67 Charlie Heck, So.

Defense

DE

#12 Tomon Fox, RFr. OR

#17 Dajaun Drennon, Sr.

NT

#92 Aaron Crawford, So. OR

#49 Jeremiah Clarke, Jr.

DT

#97 Jalen Dalton, Jr. OR

#55 Jason Strowbridge, So.

DE

#53 Malik Carney, Jr. OR

#33 Allen Cater, So.

WLB

#36 Cole Holcomb, Jr.

MLB

# 7 Jonathan Smith, So. OR

#25 Ayden Bonilla, Jr.

SLB

#23 Cayson Collins, Sr.

CB

# 6 M.J. Stewart, Sr.

FS

# 1 Myles Dorn, So.

SS

#29 J.K. Britt, Jr.

CB

# 9 K.J. Sails, So.

Special Teams

K

#98 Freeman Jones, Jr.

KOS

#98 Freeman Jones, Jr.

P

#39 Tom Sheldon, So.

LS

#41 Kyle Murphy, Sr.-PK

#61 Tommy Bancroft, Jr.-P

H

#16 Manny Miles, Sr.

KR

#17 Anthony Ratliff-Williams, So.

PR

# 6 M.J. Stewart, Sr.

Virginia Tech

Offense

QB

#17 Josh Jackson, RFr.

RB

#32 Steven Peoples, Jr. OR

#34 Travon McMillian, Jr.

WR

# 5 Cam Phillips, Sr.

WR

#86 C.J. Carroll, Jr. OR

#15 Sean Savoy, Fr.

WR

#83 Eric Kumah, So.

TE

#29 Dalton Keene, Fr.

LT

#69 Yosuah Nijman, Jr.

LG

#57 Wyatt Teller, Sr.

C

#64 Eric Gallo, Sr.

RG

#74 Braxton Pfaff, Jr.

RT

#61 Kyle Chung, Sr.

Defense

DE

#94 Trevon Hill, So.

DT

# 8 Ricky Walker, Jr.

NT

# 4 Tim Settle, So.

DE

#99 Vinny Mihota, Jr.

WHIP

# 6 Mook Reynolds, Jr.

MLB

#54 Andrew Motuapuaka, Sr.

ILB

#49 Tremaine Edmunds, Jr.

CB

#31 Brandon Facyson, Sr. OR

#36 Adonis Alexander, Jr.

SS

#21 Reggie Floyd, So.

FS

#22 Terrell Edmunds, Jr.

CB

# 3 Greg Stroman, Sr.

Special Teams

K

#46 Joey Slye, Sr.

KOS

#46 Joey Slye, Sr.

P

#91 Oscar Bradburn, Fr.

LS

#87 Colton Taylor, Sr.

H

#91 Oscar Bradburn, Fr.

KR

#89 James Clark, Sr. OR

#12 Henri Murphy, Jr.

PR

# 3 Greg Stroman, Sr.