Preview: Virginia Tech at North Carolina
12:30 p.m. at Kenan Memorial Stadium, Chapel Hill, N.C. TV: WDCA-20, WBFF-45. Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM). Records: Hokies 3-2, 1-0 ACC; Tar Heels 3-2, 0-1.
UNCHARTED TERRITORY: Virginia Tech is reeling after two losses in three games. The Hokies are one defeat from being .500 or below in October for the first time since 1992, the season before their current 19-year bowl streak began. The good news is that Virginia Tech is 13-0 in the state of North Carolina since joining the ACC and hasn’t lost in Chapel Hill since 1938.
GET GOING EARLY: Virginia Tech’s offense has struggled at the outset of games this year, producing just 14 points in the first quarter through five games. The problems may have reached a tipping point in last Saturday’s loss to Cincinnati, when the Hokies needed nearly 25 minutes to pick up a first down. Coach Frank Beamer said the coaching staff discussed its early-game woes extensively this week, but that won’t mean much until Virginia Tech manages to put together a sustained drive at the beginning of a game.
AIR ATTACK: Led by quarterback Bryn Renner, an All-Met at West Springfield, and running back Gio Bernard, North Carolina is coming off a team-record 66-point performance in a shutout of Idaho last week. Renner (14 TDs, 4 INTs) seems to have embraced new Coach Larry Fedora’s up-tempo spread offense, and the Tar Heels haven’t lost a game this year when Bernard plays. The Hokies, meanwhile, are trying to rebound after giving up 392 passing yards to Cincinnati, the most any team has gained on defensive coordinator Bud Foster since 2003.
— Mark Giannotto