Friday, September 17, 2004

Not Time for a Letdown

Maybe I am worried for nothing, but this North Carolina game scares me. Here's why:

1. UNC should be hungry. This is a team that barely beat William & Mary, then got stomped by Virginia. They are looking for any measure of respectability. They may get some major rear-chewing.

2. J.Bunting and his job are on the line big-time the next 2 games. A wounded dog in a corner is a dangerous thing.

3. This game sets up with all the classic signs of an upset. GT won the miraculous game at Clemson. We have two weeks after this game to prepare for Miami, so looking too far ahead is a possibility. It just doesn't feel right.

4. This GT team has yet to prove their ability to play at a consistent level week-in and week-out. We KNOW what happened last year at Duke. This is our team's first test to show they can play at a high level no matter the opponent.

5. GT has only opened a season 3-0 4 times in the last 36 years (courtesy of the Hive)

6. UNC has a great offense and are used to being pressured to score on every possesion due to the terrible defense. On the other side, GT is not a consistent offense. While showing signs of excitment, there have also been stretches in both games with back-to-back-back stalled out drives.

7. This could be a very wet game, which means high turnover potential and probaby a bit more worry about injuries.

8. Lastly, I'm going to say it. I like Reggie Ball and his fire, but he needs to be careful and not start getting cocky again. There is a difference between confident and cocky. I was a little concerned at his post-game comments.


1. The team needs to realize that THIS UNC GAME IS MORE IMPORTANT TO OUR SEASON THAN THE MIAMI GAME!!! I am serious about this. Our problem last season was consistency, and a win over UNC will be much more important than a loss to Miami. Everyone already sees Miami as a shot in the dark and let's face it - it would be a MAJOR upset. However, beating UNC is the first sign or real consistency in the program. It will be a major step up.

2. Establish the running game. Once we do that, then things should open up for our talented WR group. Bunting has said that he will line up 8 in the box to stop the run, which means our WR's could be single covered much of the day. If that is the case, watch out. However, it is hard to FIRST establish the pass then try to get the run going later. So while we may see something fun in the air on the first series, by the time the drive is over I fully expect 70% of the plays to be on the ground.

2. Scoring in the red-zone. We WILL move the ball on UNC. I don't think there is any doubt about that. However, we need to put the big points in the board when we are in the redzone. And I mean TD's.

3. Stop UNC's offense from scoring TD's. A little bending is ok, but don't break. They will chew up some yardage, but we need to hang tough when THEY are in the redzone. Limit them to FG attempts as much as possible.

4. Time-of-possesion. This game will be a battle in the trenches. GT will try to establish the run from the very beginning and so will UNC with their talented backs. I was wrong last week about TOP with Clemson. Yes, it is critical, but with a quick strike passing team you can get smoked and still win TOP - just look at the 39-3 drubbing in 2003. We won TOP. However, UNC is back to reality. TOP is more critical when two teams are first trying to establish the run. So pay attention to who is successful at grinding up clock time.

5. Turnovers. Again, this single measure is incredibly accurate at predicting victories. Protect the ball and the odds of winning go up exponentially.


1. Can our O-Line protect Reggie Ball this week? He was sacked 6 times last week. This will be acheived through a combination of modified blocking schemes, multiple back sets more often, better tight-end blocking and a more aware Reggie Ball.

2. Can our defense put pressure on Durant but NOT let him flush out for big gains on the ground? Through two games, GT has recorded 1 sack. We are pressuring the QB's, but we just cannot seem to get to them like last season. No doubt it shows K-Fox and D-Smith were special players. And of course we cannot forget that Eric Henderson has yet to play and he is doubtful again for this game.

3. Can we once again exert ourselves in stopping the run? I think we need to hold UNC to less than 120 total yards on the ground. Obviously about 50 would be ideal.

No time to go into more detail, but here I see a final score of:

Scott..........GT 37.....UNC 28 (Daniels 150 yards, Curry 110 yards rec)

Chris in Indy..GT 31.....UNC 28
Justin.........GT 52.....UNC 28
Buzz...........GT 42.....UNC 14
FreshJacket....GT 21.....UNC 17
Gooch..........GT 35.....UNC 10
MusicCityJckt..GT by 17 points

Doom of Doom, Lee Corso and C.Herbstreet both picked GT this morning. That's usually the kiss of death.