Georgia Tech @ North Carolina

Georgia Tech

Coming off a loss at Kansas, the Jackets are looking to rebound in their first conference game on the road in Chapel Hill, N.C. A large factor that contributed to Tech’s loss was penalties. Last week, Tech picked up nine penalties for 91 yards, a significantly larger amount than the 2009 average of 47 yards per game.

The offense gained 407 yards against Kansask, 291 of those rushing. Tech will continue to try to control the clock against a quick and talented UNC defense. Senior quarterback Joshua Nesbitt showed some improvement in the passing game, but there were several key drops by receivers. Late in the game, sophomore wide receiver Stephen Hill made two crucial catches, an impressive touchdown catch and a two-point conversion.

Senior linebacker Brad Jefferson and the rest of the Tech defense are still transitioning into the 3-4 defense. The defense has struggled against the run game, allowing an average of 159.5 rushing yards in the last two games. Tech will be facing a weaker UNC rushing attack, which could play in the favor of the Jackets. The defensive linemen and linebackers were able to create pressure on KU’s offensive line, improving the Jackets’ sack total from zero in week one to two in week two.

Look for Tech to be a more motivated team when they travel to Chapel Hill, N.C. The backfield should continue to churn out rushing yards against a tough, disciplined defense.

North Carolina

Coming off a bye week, UNC still has potential NCAA sanctions looming over the program. The Tar Heels are hoping to hear some good news about several of their starters being eligible to return for the first home game of the season.

In the fourth year under Head Coach Butch Davis, North Carolina is looking to have a big year starting with a win in its home opener. On kickoff weekend, UNC almost erased a fourth quarter 20-point deficit against LSU in the Georgia Dome.

After that heartbreaking loss, the Tar Heels are looking to win, and also hoping to start ACC conference play with a victory over their division rivals.

Quarterback T.J. Yates is coming off an impressive performance, throwing for a career-high 412 passing yards against a well-respected LSU secondary. Yates will be looking to have another big day, even without the Tar Heels standout wide receiver Greg Little.

The good news for UNC is that tailback Shaun Draughn has been cleared to play against Tech after being held out last week. The running game of the Tar Heels was their biggest weakness against LSU, averaging less than one yard per carry. Draughn brings a power running element to the Tar Heels that can increase that average to balance out the offense.

The extra week to prepare the defense for Tech’s option attack should help slow Tech’s offense down. However, with some of its best players being held out of the game, UNC will need some of their younger players to step up if they want to beat the Jackets.