Wednesday, September 15, 2010

UNC Preview....Into The Unknown......

I'm begging you, don't ever play like that again.......

Kind of tough to get a handle on this week's game with the Ol' NCAA rooting around Chapel Hill & the Jackets coming off a surprising loss at Kansas. Who plays for Carolina this weekend? Well tailback Shaun Draughn is back & rumors have begun to surface that safety Deunta Williams may be reinstated by game time. For Tech, expect some lineup shuffling & some new faces in an effort to shake things up a bit. As usual, we'll look at our opponent first:

Good TJ or bad TJ on Saturday?
Carolina Offense:
What the fuck happened to TJ Yates? From offensive albatross to Tom Brady in one off-season? Seriously, where did that come from? 28-46 for 412 yards, 3 TD's & no one game? That's a month's worth of production for Yates in previous years. Suffice it to say I'm interested to see if Yates can continue to perform at that level. If so, Carolina will be very tough offensively.
Against LSU and down to their 3rd string tailback, the Heels chose a pass heavy game plan & I expect more of the same against us this weekend. Yates has three capable receivers to throw to in wide outs Erik Highsmith & Jheranie Boyd and TE Zach Pianalto.
After a couple of errant snaps against LSU & various other problems, Carolina restructured their offensive line after week one, moving center Jonathan Cooper to left guard, Alan Pelc to right guard, & Cam Holland to center. While big across the front five, the Heels are a better pass protection group than run blockers.
Schematically, expect the Heels to send Boyd deep trying to clear out space for Highsmith & particularly Pianalto underneath. We'll see lots of high-low route concepts from OC John Shoop this week. Follow the fullback on run plays & you'll find the ball. It's very much a vanilla, pro-style offense from former Chicago Bears OC Shoop so don't expect too mamy wrinkles.

Carolina Defense:
If you haven't heard......Okay, it's old news. What once was the most fearsome defense to never play a down in 2010 has likely been reduced to a shadow of its former self. The good for Carolina is that LB's Quan Sturdivant & Bruce Carter patrol the edges & both are exceptional players. But after that it's a young Carolina defense, particularly the secondary, where all four potential starters have been suspended. The return of Williams at safety would be a huge lift, both mentally & on the field for Carolina. Defensive end Quinton Coples is the best player remaining in the front four & after a week at DT has returned to end.

After a week in which we left far too many opportunities on the field we'll need to capitalize against the Heels if we hope to win the game; if we miss assignments, on either offense or defense, they will make us pay. I expect to see some new faces for the Jackets Saturday as CPJ looks for the right combination of playmakers & blockers on offense & athleticism on defense.

Where will this man line up on Saturday?
Tech Offense:
It's pretty simple for us this week: 1) block, 2) block, 3) make plays. Through two games, our blocking, particularly on the perimeter, has been atrocious. We simply HAVE to get guys on the ground this week if we hope to win. To that end, I expect to see some new faces on offense this week. Look for Lucas Cox to play more at A-back & even WR! Yes, I said WR. Why? We have to block, & that's one thing Lucas knows how to do. Also watch for Robbie Godhigh who's proven a willing blocker in practice to get some snaps at A-back. It's pretty clear from our lack of big plays how much we miss BayBay's blocking on the edge......
The offensive line will make or break us this week & will need to play much better than last week at Kansas. The play of tackles Phil Smith, Austin Barrick, & Nick Claytor will be crucial as they'll need to get to the second level & block Carter & Sturdivant if we're to enjoy any success running the ball. Carolina isn't huge up the middle so watch for CPJ to use some midline in an attempt to take both LB's out of the play.
And for God's sake, catch the football....

We need to find this guy at all times on Saturday.....
Tech Defense:
Saturday will be a challenge for our new defense as I expect Carolina will try & use no huddle to take advantage of personnel groupings & throw the ball frequently. Expect Tech's base defense to be a nickel package with Sweeting at corner along with Mike Peterson. If allowed to stand in the pocket un-hurried, Yates will pick us apart so our ability to bring pressure will be key. We'll need freshman Jeremiah Attaochu to grow up in a hurry & rush the passer from the Will LB spot on Saturday. CPJ has said he expects us to rotate our defensive line more, something we've needed to do for the first two games so hopefully we'll be fresher up front on Saturday. Stopping UNC TE Pianalto underneath & down the seam will be key. We have to take him away. Did I mention tackling? Like last weeks squad, I must have forgotten.......

To say that both teams have performed dreadfully on special teams in their last games would be an understatement. UNC gave up a TD & three bajillion yards to LSU's Patrick Patterson, so much so that Patterson had 247 return yards at half & had to get an IV at halftime. Tech simply imploded Saturday, we all saw that. So special teams should be crucial. We'll need to exploit Carolina's lack of depth in this area....

Keys to the game:
1) can Carolina protect Yates or can we get pressure & force mistakes?
2) can we seal the edge & get guys to the ground on the perimeter?
3) Over/under on Tech completions? 8. More we win, less we lose......
4) special teams

Note: we won't ever list turnovers in keys to the game. Turnover margin is ALWAYS key. So we take for granted our brilliant readers already know that the "turnover battle" is key....

How it plays out:
After last week's debacle, I expect Tech to come out focused & ready to play. Both teams have young defenses & I expect a high scoring affair (which means it will be a 13-10 game). Look for some new wrinkles from Tech offensively. I also expect CPJ will go deep into his bag for a couple trick plays. Tech will play a nickel defense for the most part & I expect more exotic blitz schemes from Groh. This one will be tight all the way.....

Final Score: Tech 31 Carolina 27


  1. I am not an X's and O's guy. But, it appeared to me last week that our DT's were lined up off the ball by a yard+. Typically I see guys at that position right on the ball to force the center and guard to engage them. Is there some advantage to lining up that far off the ball due to our lack of size (or speed) at that position? I know we have a lot of kinks to work out, but we seem to be getting gashed in between the tackles in our first two games.

  2. When ever I see that picture of CPJ I laugh. It looks like he's a back ground dancer in the "Beat It!" video.