For the first time this Atlantic hurricane season, a storm is making landfall and will have a major effect on the weekend of college football that lies ahead. Those effects will be felt the most in the state of Florida, where the storm is currently making landfall along its West Coast, but it will also
have impacts throughout the Southeast in the days following including here in the Carolinas.
Many teams throughout college football that are in the line of the storm have already made adjustments to their schedule as a result. Two games that are set to be played in Florida have been moved back to Sunday, while other games, including South Carolina’s game with South Carolina State, were moved up to Thursday. The Tar Heels do not appear as if they will make any adjustments to this game following Mack Brown’s comments in his pre-Virginia Tech presser today. “Right now, looking at the weather, understanding it could change, that it’s going to be ok. There will be some light rain and be windy, but it seems like everything is in place moving forward to play the game.”
According to the Weather Channel forecast as of right now, there is an 80% of rain during the day on Saturday, with wind out of the east at 10 to 15 miles per hour. Rain could be up to as much as a half an inch, a number that is down from the previous forecasts for Saturday. As of right now, barring some major shift in the forecast, it seems like a near certainty that this game will be played, but that the condition will not be too rough.
Most Tar Heel fans are drawing comparisons to the last time that the team played in the remnants of a major storm back in 2016 against…Virginia Tech. The Tar Heel offense entered that game as one of the best offenses in the entire country and quarterback Mitch Trubisky had yet to throw an interception. However, on that day in the midst of Hurricane Matthew, the team was held to just 131 yards of total offense, their worst offensive output since 1999, and turned the ball over four times, including two Trubisky interceptions. The rain during the game was relenting along with some decent wind throughout the day and without a doubt had a major effect in terms of the struggles that the team had. This game on Saturday shouldn’t be nearly as impacted in terms of the rainfall, although the wind could certainly play a factor.
There is no denying that the wind and rain will certainly lend to a more ground heavy game, something that the Tar Heels will have to be prepared for. The run game is averaging 194.5 yards per game, which is a solid number, but a majority of those yards have come late in games and in large part because of home run plays. Hitting those home runs on Saturday will be important, but even more important will be getting the run game going earlier and making the yards more consistent. That will be a challenge against a Virginia Tech run defense that is allowing 86.0 yards per game and for a Tar Heel offense that enters the game off a tough showing on the ground against Notre Dame where they ran for just 66 yards and 2.8 yards per carry against a lesser run defense. On the other side of the ball, Virginia Tech has only run for an average of 112.0 yards in the first four games of the season, but the Tar Heel defense is allowing 216.5 yards per game on the ground in their first four games. There isn’t much reason to believe that the Tar Heels will be able to provide a ton of resistance based on the fact that the team just allowed 287 rushing yards to a Notre Dame team that came in averaging 117.3 yards per game on the ground, the second straight game the team has allowed over 230 yards on the ground.
These won’t exactly be ideal conditions for the Tar Heels on Saturday against the the Hokies and will certainly have an impact on the Kenan Stadium crowd. However, this should not be a reason that the Tar Heels come up short against a beatable Hokies team. This is a big game for Mack Brown and his current staff on Saturday and they have to find a way to respond to this added adversity to pick up a win.