Heels Move On To Virginia Tech

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Unfortunately for North Carolina, the schedule does not get any easier following last weekend's blowout loss to South Florida. The Tar Heels step back into conference play this Saturday, with a noon kickoff against No. 17 Virginia Tech (3-1) at Lane Stadium.

"For our football team at this stage of this program, every week is a challenge," head coach Butch Davis said during his weekly Monday press conference. "It's a two-edged sword – one, it's for us to get better at the areas where we need to dramatically get better and to improve, and the other is the challenge of the opponent.

"And without question, clearly this is the best football team that we've played thus far this season and probably one of the more talented teams in the entire country."

Virginia Tech welcomes the Tar Heels to Blacksburg, Va. to begin their ACC schedule, having beaten up on Ohio (28-7) and William & Mary (44-3) after being run out of Tiger Stadium in their well-publicized 48-7 drubbing by LSU.

That defeat started the wheels in motion for head coach Frank Beamer to make a change at his quarterback position, as he replaced veteran starter Sean Glennon with freshman phenom Tyrod Taylor (421 yard passing, 104 yards rushing and three touchdowns in three games).

Taylor was often compared to the Vick brothers during his high school career with his ability to makes plays when opposing defenses had seemingly covered all possible options.

"It brings everything [into play]– he's got the speed, he can throw [and] he's got great vision," freshman cornerback Kendric Burney said. "He came in [during] his debut and did an excellent job, so we'll have to keep containment and make him throw the ball because he's got speed to burn just like an extra running back."

All-ACC candidate Brandon Ore has rushed for 205 yards and two touchdowns this season, but Tar Heel fans probably remember him best for his 111-yard, three-touchdown performance in last fall's 35-10 loss at Kenan Stadium.

"Watching him the last couple of years when I was covering college football for the NFL Network, you just get a great sense for what a powerful, strong, good runner that he is," Davis said.

But for all of the offensive talk, the Hokies have always been known for their special teams dominance.

"They are clearly one of the best special teams teams in the country," Davis said. "They put a lot of emphasis on it, they practice it and they have a lot of talented, fast athletes that certainly make your special teams dangerous."

The same can be said for a Virginia Tech defense that ranked No. 1 nationally in 2006 and boasts a veteran unit with six seniors and three red-shirt juniors starting for defensive coordinator Bud Foster. Linebackers Xavier Adibi and Vince Hall headline an all-star cast that places a tremendous amount of pressure on opposing offenses.

Davis said that Virginia Tech's defense is a bigger version of South Florida's defense – a group that held North Carolina to 164 yards in last weekend's contest.

But regardless of the difficulties that the Hokies bring to the table, Davis is adamant that this program still must work diligently to find their true identity. Only then will this North Carolina squad be able to churn out consistent performances each and every Saturday during the fall.

"We'll say this probably for a long time, but a lot of this stuff still has to be about us," Davis said. "There [are] just things that we have to grow, that we have to learn and every game presents new challenges. There's going to be new teams and new schemes and new plays and it's an opportunity for us to kind of find out more about what our kids can handle and what they can't handle and try to give them the opportunity to play the best football that they can possibly play."

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