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THE COLUMN: Virginia at UNC Complete Preview

Virginia vs. North Carolina, Volume 122


TIME: 3:30 PM (EST)

DATE: October 14th, 2017

LOCATION: Kenan Stadium - Chapel Hill, NC




by Paul Wiley

The South's Oldest Rivalry meets college football's newest standard. In past years, if you'd told me the Virginia season had included a blowout on the road and a surprising result after a bye week, I would've bet the farm on UVA being on the wrong side of both. But lo and behold, here we is: the Virginia Cavaliers football team is 4-1, 1-0 in the ACC, with bowl prospects looking surprisingly bright.

Surprise has been the order of the day in Chapel Hill this year, too. Just ... not the good kind. After UNCCH went 11-3 in what looked like a breakthrough 2015 season, and followed it with an 8-5 campaign last year, there were hopes that LSU transfer Brandon Harris would keep les bons temps rouler'ing for the Heels. But Harris struggled as Carolina fell to Cal in the opener, and freshman Chazz Surratt took the reins. Then Louisville got one over on the Heels. Then Duke. Then Georgia Tech. Then Notre Dame. It's two weeks before Halloween, and the bowl outlook is bleak for the baby blue.

So do the trend lines continue? Or do the storylines reset?


Provided by Danny Neckel

UVA has the advantage in almost every (!!) major category over UNC. Below is where both teams rank nationally on these statistics:

The Good For UVA

Category UVA Category Navy
Category UVA Category Navy
Passing Defense 15th (179.6) Passing Offense 128th (83.8)
Turnovers Lost 41st (16) Turnovers Gained 109th (13)
3rd Down Offense 68th (39.8%) 3rd Down Defense 101st (43.5%)


Doni Dowling
Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

Doni Dowling - WR

Dowling had himself a game against the Blue Devils last week and is why he is featured this week. In a game in which one of Benkert’s main targets, Andre Levrone, was limited to two catches for 29 yards, Dowling had to step up. He did so by catching two critical touchdowns. Virginia’s depth at the wide receiver position is great and it seems that Dowling, Levrone, and Zacchaeus are a trio to be reckoned with for the rest of the year.

Robert Anae

Robert Anae - OC

The man in the press box, offensive coordinator Robert Anae, has been doing great things for the Virginia offense. Bronco Mendenhall brought Anae over with him from BYU and the chemistry is clearly clicking in the coaches’ second year. The OC is a disciple of Mike Leach’s “Air Raid” offense and we’re starting to see the inklings of what a pass-happy playbook can do. Players are buying into this New Standard and let’s see how far it Anae can bring it.

Chris Peace
Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Peace - LB

Third-year Chris Peace is quickly emerging as a stalwart in the UVA defense. He was one of seven Wahoos to appear in all 12 of Virginia’s games last year and has started every game this year. So far, this season, Peace has three sacks and one interception. The outside linebacker is quickly emerging as a large part of the UVA defense and will probably be a leader for the Hoos for the rest of this year, and the next.

Chazz Surratt
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Chazz Surratt - QB

The kid with two Zs in his name is just a freshman. Surratt takes over the helm from this year’s second pick, Mitch Trubisky. UNC is 1-5 on the year, so it’s clear that the Tar Heels are adjusting from the departure of their star QB. This year, they are running an option offense and Surratt has scored six TDs through the air and four on the ground.

Cole Holcomb
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Cole Holcomb - LB

Senior Cole Holcomb finished last season leading the Tar Heels with 115 tackles. Five of those were for a loss and also had a sack. Holcomb also finished with six double digit tackle games last season. On the year, Holcomb has registered 25 solo tackles and continues to be a presence for limited UNC defense.

Jordon Brown
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Jordon Brown - RB

The Tar Heels’ running game is quite eclectic. They spread the ball between quarterback Chazz Surratt and the two running backs in Brown and Michael Carter. Surratt, Brown, and Carter have 69, 65, and 48 carries, respectively. In standard running scenarios, look for Brown to carry the ball. Nevertheless, look for plenty of option plays.



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11/24/1898 - UNC beat UVA, 6-2