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UNC Travels to Georgia Tech

Sharon Thorsland
October 04, 2019 - 11:47 am

North Carolina has had a rough few weeks on the football field.  They've dropped three straight games, including a heart breaker to then number one Clemson last week, when they failed to convert a 2-point attempt that would have won the game. 

So, the Tar Heels bring a 2-3 record to Georgia Tech for a Saturday afternoon matchup with the Yellow Jackets (1-3, 0-1 ACC). As always, you can hear the game on WBT, with kick-off set for 4:00.

Things are a lot different in Atlanta these days. Longtime coach Paul Johnson retired, and his famed triple-option attack is being replaced by a more pro-style offense.

Things aren't going too well – the Yellow Jackets have been blown out by Clemson and Temple and even lost to the Citadel!  

But first year head coach Geoff Collins hasn't completely abandoned the option attack – the Yellow Jackets have run the ball nearly twice as much as they throw it.

They've got not one, not two, but three quarterbacks running the offense. Lucas Johnson, James Graham, and Tobias Oliver have shared minutes, but none has been particularly effective throwing the ball.

Oliver is really fast and leads the team with 264 rushing yards. Johnson is nursing a shoulder injury, so Graham will likely start on Saturday.

None of the quarterbacks have had much success finding the end zone.  The Yellow Jackets rank dead last in the country in scoring, averaging just 13 points a game. 

It doesn't help that they lost top receiver Jalen Camp to a season-ending injury.  So running the ball is the name of the game in Atlanta, with running back Jordan Mason getting plenty of carries.

The Jackets' offensive line is suspect though, especially after losing starting center Kenny Cooper to injury. But the Tar Heels have struggled to stop the run.  

They're not as bad as years past, but they're still allowing 163 rushing yards per game.

Of course, that looks good compared to the Yellow Jackets, who are giving up a whopping 255 yards per game on the ground, that ranks 128th in the nation!

UNC is averaging 154 rushing yards a game, so backs Michael Carter and Javonte Williams could have big days. The Yellow Jackets are stingy against the pass though – they rank 5th in the nation allowing just 137 yards per game through the air.

That will make things tough on UNC freshman quarterback Sam Howell, who's done well throwing the ball so far, with 1168 yards and 11 touchdowns.

The Tar Heels have lost two straight to Georgia Tech, and have lost 8 of their last 9 games in Atlanta.

But the numbers favor UNC this time around, and I see them pulling out the win and getting back to .500 on the season. Go Tar Heels! 

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