North Carolina Q&A with Zach Evans

You can follow Zach on twitter @ztevans

What are your thoughts on your team so far?

The good news is that UNC’s offense has gotten better each week. Clemson has one of the best defenses in the ACC, and the Heels rebounded from a slow start to put up 35 points against them. The bad news, of course, is that UNC’s defense probably qualifies for FEMA assistance at this point. Scoring 35 points isn’t good enough when you’re giving up 50 … or 70 in the case of the East Carolina game.

What are your expectations going into the Virginia Tech game?

The game will be decided when Virginia Tech has the ball. As I said on this week’s ACC Weekly podcast, which also featured the royal steed of stationary running machines, it will be the stoppable force of Virginia Tech’s pedestrian offense under Michael Brewer against the movable object that has been UNC’s porous defense. If Brewer can complete enough passes to the right team and force UNC to make tackles, Virginia Tech will win. If not, UNC will win.

At this point, how do you see the Coastal Division shaking out?

I’d love to have some expert analysis of the Coastal, but I am utterly confused and perplexed by the division at this point. I liked Virginia Tech, then they lost to ECU and Georgia Tech. I liked Duke, they lost to Miami. I guess the teams I like most now are Virginia and Miami, which guarantees they will lose to Pitt and Georgia Tech this week. Really, I’m getting a headache just thinking about it.

What is your prediction for the game?

I predict #goacc. Lots and lots of #goacc. What else would we expect from the 12:30 ACC Network Game of the Week? I’m biased enough to think that UNC will generate enough turnovers to squeak out a win in front of the home crowd. But more importantly, I predict #goacc

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Grading the Unis – Western Michigan Edition

Helmet: B+

The Hokies have finally joined the shiny/chrome fad in college football. In this case, it was well-executed with a subtle touch in the VT logo as opposed to the Christmas ornaments we’ve seen teams across the country wear in recent years. Looked good.

Jersey: B

I like the orange jerseys in spite of our W-L history wearing them. Pulling these out for the orange effect game seems appropriate. They should only to wear them when the Hokies are at least 3 TD favorites. Otherwise, things can get dicey.

Pants: A

The pants looked great with the orange jerseys! Flawless execution.

Overall: B+

This combo is similar to the one I like to use when I play as the Hokies in NCAA 14. I think it’s a good look and it’s the best possible execution of the orange jerseys without looking like a bunch of pumpkins or like Syracuse. I’m not sure who is coming up with the uni combos this year but they’re doing a great job. No major stumbles thus far. Keep up the good work!

Western Michigan Preview and Prediction

Before I dive into Western Michigan, I’d like to start by talking about how Virginia Tech losses come in twos. I remember thinking right after the ECU game, uh oh, I hope this loss doesn’t get us twice. Let me delve into the recent history of Virginia Tech’s losses coming in twos over past few years and how the Hokies bounced back from those games.

2013

Duke 13-10 L
Boston College 34-27 L
Next Game: Miami 24-42 W

2012

Cincinnati 27-24 L
North Carolina 48-34 L
Next Game: Duke 20-41 W

2010

Boise State 33-30 L
James Madison 21-16 L
Next Game: ECU 27-49 W

I could go on, but I really don’t want to relive the painful memories of other two game losing streaks (2009, 2008 & 2006). Either way, this coaching staff has a strong track record of bouncing back from these two game losing streaks and getting things right. And just like teams of the past, it’s not like this team is void of talent or haven’t shown flashes in the games they lost. The mistakes are correctable. Which brings me to Western Michigan. I think this is the week they circle the wagons and Beamer and Co get things back on track.

What do we know about Western Michigan? They have a very good offense led by RB Jarvion Franklin. Franklin might be one of the best RBs the Hokies face all season and is on his way to putting together a 1,500+ yard season. They’ve played Purdue close and blown out Idaho and Murray State. Defensively though, they have struggled. They rank 55th in total defense and size-wise our offense line should be able to push them off the ball. The Hokies haven’t played many games recently where there has been a significant size and talent disparity between themselves and the opposition, but this is a game where that is definitely the case. This will not be another shellacking like the Hokies used to put on the Broncos in the early 2000’s but the Hokies should be able to win comfortably. However, the Broncos will finally get on the board after being shutout in the three previous meetings with the Hokies. I think Vegas has this line right about where it needs to be (-21).

Prediction: Virginia Tech 35, Western Michigan 14

Western Michigan Q&A with David Drew of the Kalamazoo Gazette

You can follow David on twitter @Drew_On_WMU or read his latest stories at mlive.com/broncos.

What are your thoughts on your team so far?

The Broncos have really surprised me offensively. WMU scored 17 points per game last year, which was one of the worst averages in the country. Right now, WMU is scoring 41 per game through its first three games. I don’t expect that high output to continue, but the Broncos have additional weapons in freshman running back Jarvion Franklin, who is on a record-breaking pace so far, and sophomore Daniel Braverman, who is a quick shifty player that can make people miss in the open field. WMU’s offense looks much different than it did last year and is no longer one-dimensional.

Defensively, WMU is still very much a work in progress, especially in the front seven. Western Michigan recorded seven sacks last season and was the only team in the country to fail to reach double digits in that category. The Broncos recorded four sacks at Idaho and put up a good rush against Murray State. WMU’s secondary was billed as a strength of the team coming into the season and it’s been okay so far, though I think it’s fair to say it’s almost been a bit of a disappointment.

Overall, WMU is a work in progress. I predicted WMU would win three games this season. Maybe the Broncos get to four or five, but this isn’t a bowl team or one that will contend for a conference championship. Coach P.J. Fleck is stockpiling the talent in recruiting, but it’s going to take time for the young guys to gain experience.

What are your expectations going into the Virginia Tech game?

WMU’s fan base is very excited right now as the Broncos are on a two-game winning streak for the first time since 2011. There are some who feel WMU can take down a reeling Va. Tech team, but I’m not one of them. The Hokies won 63-0 the last time WMU came to Blacksburg in 2004. I don’t think it will be that lopsided, but I don’t see this one being in the single digits either. If this one starts getting out of hand it’s important WMU take out its key players, take their check from Va. Tech and get home healthy and ready for MAC play, where anything can happen.

How do Western Michigan fans view Virginia Tech’s program?

I think WMU fans know and admire/respect what kind of tradition and success VT has had over the years. As I said, there are some that think an upset can happen, but I think most know this one will be tough and it’s important that their team not get too beat up. WMU coach P.J. Fleck talked at Sunday’s practice about how much respect he has for Frank Beamer and what he’s done at Va. Tech. WMU will go into this one confident, but not cocky and I think the same goes for its fan base.

What is your prediction for the game?

I think WMU gets a touchdown in the first quarter, but I don’t see this one staying close for long. Oddsmakers have the Hokies favored by 27.5 points. I think that’s a little high, but not out of the question. My final score: Virginia Tech 41, Western Michigan 17.

Taking the pulse of the program

This innocuous tweet from @Beamer_Ball (Frank Beamer’s personal website) set of a firestorm of reaction from the Hokie faithful:

Pretty safe to say that Hokie fans are not too happy with the results of the last two games.

They are who we thought they were…


… and we let ’em off the hook! Ohio State is a good team. ECU is a good team (they just hung 70 on UNC). GT not so much. They’re a decent team and they’ll probably go bowling this year. But they are not the type of team the Hokies should be losing to. They have a decent offense paired with a woeful defense. However, the Hokies did just enough to give the Jackets the game.

Going into this season I was concerned that Michael Brewer may be a bit too much of a gunslinger. When I say gunslinger, I mean like a Brett Favre-type who completes a lot of passes but also throws a lot of interceptions. In the first two games, it looked like he walked the line just right. He threw a couple of passes into tight windows and lived to tell about it. In this game, his fortunes changed dramatically and it cost the Hokies the game. Here’s hoping that he can reign-in his gunslinger mentality a bit and learn to make better decisions.

Michael Brewer took a lot of grief from Hokie fans during and after the game. One thing everyone needs to remember is that he is a first-year starter and will make mistakes. Overall, I think he moves this offense as well as anyone has since Tyrod was behind center. I think we’re just going to have to deal with the bumps in the road until his decision making improves and gets more comfortable playing at this level.

Looking back on the game, the defense played excellent. The Hokies gave up 2 TDs and 2 FGs. One of their TDs came by way of a pick-six. That’s par for the course as far as how Hokies normally play against the Jackets. But that pick six was a killer. Giving up 20 points should be enough to win the game and would’ve been on Saturday if not for the mistake from the QB.

The two aspects of the game that I think lost the game for the Hokies were not being able to run the ball consistently and Michael Brewer’s stat line. As I said in my preview, GT was giving up 216 ypg and 5.9 ypc. The Hokies only finished with 127 yards rushing (3.8 ypc). The Hokies had a great opportunity to establish the run game in this game. GT wasn’t able to stop the run against the likes of Wofford, Tulane and Georgia Southern. Not exactly a murderers row of opponents. This game makes me think the Hokies will struggle to run the ball all year unless the offensive line makes some huge strides in the coming weeks.

This post is not meant to bash Michael Brewer. I like the kid’s moxie and I think he will end up being an excellent QB and leave us with a lot of great memories in 2014 and 2015. But for this game, his stat line ended up being 28 for 39 (good!), 297 yards (good!), 0 TDs, 3 INTs (very, very bad!). I would love to see the Hokies be able to establish the run and take some of the pressure off of Brewer’s shoulders but like I said in the last paragraph, I don’t see that happening. I think what we saw from the offense is what we’re going to have to get used to for the rest of the season. Some days, Brewer is going to be great! Some days he’s not going to be so good.

I predicted before the season that the Hokies will end up going 8-4 during the regular season. I’m sticking to that. I still think they are going to lose two more in ACC play but I think overall, they end up with a pretty good record and challenge for that division title. I think it’ll end up being one of those years where the division winner goes 5-3 in conference and goes to the ACCCG by way of a tiebreaker. Luckily, I don’t think that tiebreaker will be against GT so take care of business against Pitt and UNC and I think we’ll be in good shape.

Georgia Tech Preview and Prediction

There are definitely some concerns going into this game. The Hokies starting DTs are banged up which is a bad thing when facing a Georgia Tech team that loves to give it to their B-back going right up the middle of the defense. In the past, VT’s ability to defend that part of the option has limited what GT has been able to do on the ground. It’s also a concern that the Hokies will have a new LB corps going into this game. Last year, they had an advantage with a couple of guys on the field who had seen this offense multiple times. For Clarke, Williams and DiNardo, it will be the first time they’ve played against it. All of this makes me think GT will put up more points than we’re all used to. Last year, they scored 10 and 17 the year before.

On offense, this is the game where Hokies need to be able to run the ball. GT has not been able to stop anyone on the ground (216 ypg, 5.9 ypc). If the Hokies can’t move the ball on the ground against this defense, they’ve got some serious issues. This is a game where they need to lean on the running game with McKenzie and Williams and let them carry the offense to victory.  If they can move the ball consistently on the ground, the Hokies should be able to outscore the Yellow Jackets.

Originally, I was thinking the Hokies would win by around 10 or 11. The more I look at the situation at DT and LB, I’m thinking this game will be closer than that (this game is always a close game). Expect a lot of trouble from Zach Laskey (FB) up the middle and expect former Alabama DB commit Justin Thomas (QB) to break a couple of long runs. Ultimately, I think the Hokies will do just enough on defense and the offense will be able to score consistently enough throughout the game that the Hokies win by a TD in the fourth quarter.

Prediction: Virginia Tech 28, Georgia Tech 21

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