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From the Upper Deck: Hoos look to rebound against North Carolina

The Coastal Division race is still up for grabs as Virginia looks to keep pace.

NCAA Football: Pittsburgh at Virginia Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Time is running out for Virginia’s fledgling bowl chances. They let an opportunity go by last weekend when they couldn’t keep up with Pitt. This week North Carolina comes to town coming off their 20-13 win over a ranked Miami. Looking at the schedule, four more wins seem a daunting task, but if the Cavaliers are able to pull it off, it needs to start Saturday. Here’s what we’re looking for...From the Upper Deck.

  1. Get to the Red Zone - Most teams are looking to turn it up when they reach the red zone, as oftentimes teams settle for field goals, leaving points on the field. That’s not the case for Virginia, as they score touchdowns on a whopping 81% of their red zone tries, good for tops in the league. In fact only two other teams in the ACC have a TD success rate over 70%. When you add in field goals, Virginia gets points on 90.5% of their red zone trips (3rd in the ACC). Instead, Virginia’s problem is getting to the red zone. Their 21 trips inside the 20 are second to last in the ACC, ahead of only Boston College, who nobody would mistake for an offensive juggernaut. Sure, several of the team’s touchdowns have come from outside the 20, which fans will accept any day of the week, but the disparity in chances is striking. To keep pace with North Carolina, they’ll have to do a better job of moving the ball into scoring position.
  2. Run Wild - Under Larry Fedora, the Tar Heels have fielded high-powered offenses, which force opposing teams to play catch up through the air while inviting teams to run at will. This year is no different. The Tar Heels are dead last in the ACC in rush defense giving up 4.5 yards per attempt and 216 yards per game. Therefore I expect a heavy dose of Albert Reid early. Virginia isn’t one to go run heavy, but this week, running the ball to control the game and keep the Tar Heels off the field could be just what is needed to pick up a win. Speaking of controlling the game...
  3. Don’t let the game get away - Once Pitt took the lead last week just before halftime, the entire stadium felt a momentum shift. Though the Hoos were able to keep Pitt out of the endzone for most of the second half, the Hoos can’t afford any lulls against the Tar Heels. UNC might not be very stout on defense, but they are very adept on the offensive side of the ball and can put points up in a hurry. Should Virginia get down by two or more TDs, Virginia’s defense is going to struggle to climb back in the game.

Kickoff is at 3:00 p.m. from Charlottesville. If you can’t make it to Scott, the game will be televised by RSN. Stick with Streaking the Lawn for all of your UNC coverage and as always, Go Hoos!