Heel Tough Blog: Week 5 Trench Report - Virginia Tech


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This season was deemed one with crossroads for Mack Brown and his Tar Heel program, and a game that highlighted that was last weekend’s contest against Virginia Tech. Carolina entered the game fresh off a defeat to Notre Dame, that had Mack Brown handing out compliments to the opposition like it was Halloween in Chapel Hill. UNC wrapped up its portion of the non-conference at 3-1, with two close road wins at Group of 5 schools, an uninspiring home win over an FCS opponent, and the aforementioned loss to Notre Dame. This was a chance for UNC to rebound from a disappointing effort, and state their case in the wide-open ACC Coastal…and they did just that, routing Virginia Tech 41-10 in a game that wasn’t even as close as the final margin. Drake Maye amassed over 400 yards of total offense, with 5 total touchdowns. The defense put together its best performance since last season’s win against Duke, and all the bad feelings we felt last week suddenly didn’t sting as much. Saturday was a glimpse of how dominant this team can be, and it all started up front on both sides of the ball.


Offensive Line:

There’s no denying that UNC got beaten up for a third straight season against Notre Dame a week ago, the question was how were they going to respond. When Stacey Searles was on the coaching staff, sometimes they would respond in a positive way, and sometimes they would respond in a negative way. Against a very solid Virginia Tech defensive front, they responded in a positive way, putting together arguably their best performance of the season. Drake Maye wasn’t sacked, and they gave him time to pick apart the Hokies defense, as 10 different players registered a catch. The rushing numbers may have been skewed by long runs from Omarion Hampton and Caleb Hood but had the game plan been to run the football, there was reason to believe they would’ve worn them down. Ed Montils really struggled for the second straight week, but Carolina was able to overcome his struggles, something that they haven’t done in the past. The challenge now becomes being able to go on the road and build off this performance, but if we remember the last time the Heels were in Coral Gables, things went pretty well.


Player Grades:

  • William Barnes - Offensive Grade (64.6) Run Block (66.0) Pass Block (58.9)

  • Spencer Rolland - Offensive Grade (60.5) Run Block (60.3) Pass Block (57.5)

  • Asim Richards - Offensive Grade (57.4) Run Block (56.6.) Pass Block (55.3)

  • Corey Gaynor - Offensive Grade (52.9) Run Block (51.6) Pass Block (54.6)

  • Ed Montilus - Offensive Grade (48.4) Run Block (47.3) Pass Block (36.8)


Defensive Line:

Finally. Finally, the defensive line set the edge to contain the run. Finally, the defensive line got off blocks and made plays at the line of scrimmage. Finally, the defensive line created pressure on the QB. In the win over Virginia Tech, the defense looked what we envisioned it looking like upon the return of Gene Chizik as the defensive coordinator. Carolina allowed only 273 yards of total offense, and just 99 yards on the ground, as an anemic Hokie offense took another step backward in Kenan Stadium. Add in 2 sacks, to go along with 3 tackles for loss, and hopefully, Saturday was a building block for a defense that had been abused in its first four outings. This performance had to feel good for defensive line coach Tim Cross who has received a lot of criticism (especially from yours truly) as of late. It was a reminder of how good of a coach he is, and the potential of his group. Like the offensive line, the challenge will be to go out on Saturday and validate what they did this past week, and prove that they are a capable defensive unit, against a better QB and an all-around better offense.


Player Grades

  • Kaimon Rucker - Defensive Grade (72.8) Run Defense (69.9) Pass Rush (66.6)

  • Jahvaree Ritzie - Defensive Grade (64.4) Run Defense (57.7) Tackling (73.9) Pass Rush (69.9)

  • Des Evans - Defensive Grade (62.1) Run Defense (62.6) Tackling (72.7) Pass Rush (59.2)

  • Noah Taylor - Defensive Grade (60.0) Run Defense (57.5) Tackling (47.0) Pass Rush (58.6) Coverage (64.2)

  • Malaki Hamrick - Defensive Grade (57.6) Run Defense (62.9) Tackling (76.7) Pass Rush (59.6) Coverage (64.3)

  • Jacolbe Cowan - Defensive Grade (52.4) Run Defense (51.9) Tackling (71.3) Pass Rush (56.0)

  • Ray Vohasek - Defensive Grade (51.9) Run Defense (48.5) Tackling (28.9) Pass Rush (62.7)

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