Heel Tough Blog: Virginia Preview

Updated: Nov 3, 2019

@ToddGreene40- Twitter

It may all come down to this. Saturday’s 124th meeting of The South’s Oldest Rivalry has a good chance of producing the eventually champion of the ACC Coastal. The question is, can the Tar Heels take advantage of Virginia team that is struggling on the road in what is expected to be one of the best environments in Kenan Stadium history? Here’s your preview for this crucial matchup with the rival Cavaliers.

Team Stats

Tar Heels

Off. PPG: 27.5 (79th)

Off. PYPG: 268.0 (34th)

Off. RYPG: 166.3 (69th)

Off. TYPG: 434.3 (40th)

Off. 3rd Down %: 35.9% (101st)

Def. PPG: 25.8 (53rd)

Def. PYPG: 216.4 (57th)

Def. RYPG: 164.9 (73rd)

Def. TYPG: 381.3 (57th)

Def. 3rd Down %: 36.5% (51st)

Sacks: 21.0 (T-36th)

Interceptions: 8 (T-29th)

Turnover Margin: +3


Off. PPG: 29.9 (61st)

Off. PYPG: 239.8 (56th)

Off. RYPG: 105.5 (123rd)

Off. TYPG: 345.3 (108th)

Off. 3rd Down %: 41.2% (52nd)

Def. PPG: 20.8 (T-27th)

Def. PYPG: 169.1 (10th)

Def. RYPG: 112.4 (22nd)

Def. TYPG: 281.5 (11th)

Def. 3rd Down %: 30.9% (18th)

Sacks: 32.0 (T-4th)

Interceptions: 6 (T-62nd0

Turnover Margin: -6

Keys to the Game

Win the Turnover Battle

For really the first time all season, the Tar Heels had trouble protecting the football against Duke. The good news is that, like the Blue Devils, have their issues with turning the football over. The goal for the Heels must be to cut down on their turnovers from a week ago and create a turnover or two against a Virginia offense that has been prone to turnover issues so far this season.

Win the Field Position Battle

The Tar Heels really weren’t able to control the field position battle a week ago against the rival Blue Devils, but against one of the country’s best overall defenses, they’ll have to value every possession they get. The best way to be successful, create short fields for your offense. If the Tar Heels can do that, there is a legit chance this Tar Heel offense can put the ball in the endzone enough to get the job done.

Keep Sam Howell on His Feet

So far this season, the Tar Heels have had some trouble keeping their star quarterback upright. Now, with what we’ve seen lately, the offense should feed off of the running game, but the offensive line must still be able to protect the freshman star in passing situations, a tough ask against one of the nation’s top pass rushing groups so far this season. The Heels must find a way, though, if they want to win this crucial ACC Coastal matchup.

Visitors List


5✮ WDE Desmond Evans- Lee County (Sanford, NC)

4✮ OLB Trenton Simpson- Mallard Creek (Charlotte, NC)

4✮ SDE Myles Murphy- Dudley (Greensboro, NC)

4✮ DT Kedrick Bingley-Jones- Providence Day (Charlotte, NC)

4✮ WR Josh Downs- North Gwinnett (Suwanee, GA)

4✮ S Cameron Roseman-Sinclair- Myers Park (Charlotte, NC)

4✮ S Ja’Qurious Conley- Northside-Jacksonville (Jacksonville, NC)

4✮ ILB Ethan West- Cosby (Midlothian, VA)

3✮ WR Ray Rose- South Point (Belmont, NC)

3✮ DT Clyde Pinder Jr.- Armwood (Seffner, FL)

3✮ OT Trey Zimmerman- Roswell (Roswell, GA)

3✮ OG Jonathan Adorno- Rolesville (Rolesville, NC)

3✮ RB D.J. Jones- Pine Forest (Fayetteville, NC)

3✮ ATH Jefferson Boaz- East Surry (Pilot Mountain, NC)

3✮ SDE A.J. Beatty- Central Catholic (Pittsburgh, PA)

3✮ ATH Cedric Gray- Ardrey Kell (Charlotte, NC)

3✮ WR Stephen Gosnell- East Surry (Pilot Mountain, NC)

3✮ OG Malik McGowan- Charlotte Catholic (Charlotte, NC)

3✮ CB Jayden Chalmers- Lee County (Sanford, NC)

3✮ RB Elijah Burris- Mountain Island Charter (Mount Holly, NC)

UR ATH Romon Copeland- Oscar L. Smith (Chesapeake, VA)


5✮ CB Tony Grimes- Princess Anne (Virginia Beach, VA)

4✮ WR Micah Crowell- East Forsyth (Kernersville, NC)

4✮ DT Desmond Watson- Armwood (Seffner, FL)

4✮ ATH Gabe Stephens- Mountain Island Charter (Mount Holly, NC)

4✮ S Dontavius Nash- Hunter Huss (Gastonia, NC)

3✮ ATH Caleb Hood- Richmond (Rockingham, NC)

UR ATH Maurice Freeman- Oscar Smith (Chesapeake, VA)


5✮ WR Shaleak Knotts- Monroe (Monroe, NC)

UR TE Benji Gosnell- East Surry (Pilot Mountain, NC)

Injury Report

Tar Heels

OUT- Brandon Fritts (knee), Cam’Ron Kelly (knee), Patrice Rene (knee), Bryson Richardson (knee)

DOUBT- Tre Shaw (lower body)

QUEST- Storm Duck (lower body), Trey Morrison (arm), Nick Polino (lower body), Jace Ruder (lower body), Myles Wolfolk (foot)


OUT- Darrius Bratton (knee), Bryce Hall (ankle), Hunter Pearson (undisclosed), Robert Snyder (ankle)

QUEST- Brennan Armstrong (foot), Jordan Mack (suspension)

PROB- Bryce Perkins (knee)

Projected Starting Lineups

Tar Heels



# 7 Sam Howell, Fr.


#25 Javonte Williams, So. OR

# 8 Michael Carter, Jr.


# 2 Dyami Brown, So.


#15 Beau Corrales, Jr.


# 5 Dazz Newsome, Jr.


#84 Garrett Walston, Jr.