Yesterday was the biggest home game in Kenan Stadium, in some time as #8 Carolina hosted #19 Virginia Tech in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels jumped out to a 21-0 lead, before eventually preserving a 56-45 win, giving them their first win in a ranked vs ranked matchup since 2008. The Carolina offense was potent both through the air, and on the ground as they ran for 399 yards. This was the first win over the Hokies since 2015, when Carolina eventually played for the ACC Championship, after the win yesterday they appear ready to be a legitimate contender in this conference. Football is won and lost at the line of scrimmage, let’s take a look at how the trench units performed yesterday:
Last year in Blacksburg, the Virginia Tech defensive line dominated the game at the point of attack, and was a big reason they beat the Tar Heels a season ago. That didn’t happen yesterday, as Carolina ran it 43 times, for 399 yards. Joshua Ezeudu returned to the starting lineup, and made his presence felt, clearing bug running lanes for both Michael Carter and Javonte Williams. Carter averaged 12.6 yards per carry, while Williams averaged 8.5 yards per attempt. They also kept Sam Howell upright, allowing one sack, as Howell went 18-23 for 257 yards and 3 touchdowns. The return of Ezeudu made everyone else look better, and more importantly play better. This type of performance up front is what Carolina will need more of moving forward, as this isn’t the best defensive line they’ll play this season.
While Carolina got healthy on the offensive line, they were without Raymond Vohasek yesterday, and it showed how important he is to the team. After slowing down the run game of Syracuse and Boston College in their first two games, the run defense issues showed up yesterday, allowing 260 yards, on 48 carries. Carolina had a hard time getting off blocks, and they only managed one sack of the multiple Hokie quarterbacks. Tomari Fox continued his impressive individual play, recording 5 total tackles, with that lone sack. Tomon Fox recorded 4 tackles himself, in addition to one quarterback hurry. You have to credit Virginia Tech and the job they did, but Carolina wasn’t good up front yesterday, and they’ll need a bounce back game next week at Florida State.