The Q&A this week turns to an internal expert, as we were unable to get a hold of anyone at the UNC blog. Despite the Top 25 ranking, they must be more concerned with the approaching basketball season this winter, and wondering how to recover from their 2 losses to Georgia Tech on the hardcourt last season.
However, we press onwards. For today’s Q&A, we turn inwards to our own Jake Patterson, who’s currently a student at UNC. Read on for his thoughts on Mack Brown’s bagmen, UNC’s ceiling, and much more.
First off, who are you cheering for this weekend? What’s a worst-case scenario loss here?
Jake P.: Since I’m a current student, I have to say that I’m pulling for UNC this weekend. However, in all other games I’m not actively rooting against Georgia Tech, and I won’t be participating in any [Foreigner] Georgia Tech chants this weekend. A worst case scenario loss is a UNC loss coupled with a major injury to Sam Howell or Josh Downs, and then Geoff Collins talking about how much EFFORT and GriT UNC gave in the process of losing.
The dramatic uptick in recruiting under Mack Brown has been noticed nation-wide. What do you attribute to the sudden swing? It’s reminiscent of Ole Miss under Hugh Freeze, if I’m being honest... and we all know how that turned out.
Jake P.: I think a main portion of the upswing in recruiting can be attributed to two things:
- The success of UNC under Coach Brown, way back in the 1990’s and since he came back in 2018. Growing up in North Carolina, you’re taught to love this school with all of your heart, and I think Brown coming back definitely had a nostalgic effect on recruits’ parents. They want to play for a guy that has had major success at this university and in coaching in general.
- The staff hires, specifically Dre Bly. Bly is a UNC legend and has completely taken over the Virginia Beach area for UNC. He’s done an incredible job recruiting, and I think it comes down to the players liking the coaches and wanting to play for them. The Hugh Freeze comparison is a little off, but if allegations come out, UNC just needs to not comply. I really don’t think Mack is running around with a burner phone.
Do you feel like the coaching staff is making the most of the talent on both sides of the ball? What’s a realistic ceiling for UNC football in the modern age?
Jake P.: I think the coaching staff has done a great job developing the immense talent they’ve brought in over the last few years. That’s for most positions except for the offensive line. It was supposed to be a major strength this season, with all 5 starters garnering significant playing time last year, but has really been a major disappointment in the first 3 games. I think that in today’s college football world, a realistic ceiling for the Tar Heels is a consistent ACC Championship contender, especially if Clemson continues to have their offensive woes. Winning the Coastal 3 times in every 5 seasons is a realistic ceiling, maybe more if Miami keeps struggling and Fuente keeps being Fuente. Although, if the four-team playoff is kept, I don’t see UNC being a consistent playoff presence.
Does the Georgia Tech defense stand a chance against Sam Howell and the high-flying Tar Heel offense? What did Virginia Tech have success doing to slow them down?
Jake P.: If Georgia Tech’s pass rush can garner any success, I can see them limiting the Tar Heel offense. UNC’s offensive line has just not met expectations, and was especially taken advantage of by VPISU. However, I think that UNC’s penchant for big plays and Sam Howell’s running ability will have the advantage over Tech’s defense. Josh Downs is electrifying in the open field, and on any play can bust out for a huge gain. But, if Tech generates havoc, it could be a long night for Howell & co.
How does Georgia Tech match up on the other side of the ball? Can the 2021 Yellow Jacket offense score enough to keep them in the game?
Jake P: UNC’s defense struggled last weekend against UVa’s passing game, allowing 554 passing yards and 4 TDs to Brennan Armstrong. What worries me with the Jackets though is their rushing ability, especially with Jahmyr Gibbs. He’s a talent that can never be taken for granted by Jay Bateman and the rest of the UNC defense. That’s not to mention Tech’s 3 other ACC starting caliber rushers that can be counted on to contribute at a meaningful level on each play. Even with the talent, though, I just don’t think that Tech’s offense can be counted on to deliver enough points to beat the Heels. I haven’t seen it from them so far this season against quality opponents.
How many cheap hot dogs do you think you can eat at Mercedes Benz over the course of the game?
Jake P.: I think I can eat one cheap hot dog for each touchdown that UNC scores. So, for this game, I’ll say 7.
And finally, how does this game playout? Do you have a score prediction?
Jake P.: Seven hot dogs means seven touchdowns for the Tar Heels. That, plus I’ll predict they’ll continue the tradition of one field goal per game so far this season. I think that Georgia Tech will be in the game early, but UNC’s high-powered offense will completely outman the Jackets and really run away with the game in the second half.
52-31, Heels. #GDTBATH
Thanks to Jake for taking the time out of his busy schedule to answer our pressing questions. If you see him at the game in argyle and baby blue, be sure to give him a hearty “Go Jackets!”
We’ll see you at The Dome!