CHAPEL HILL, NC — North Carolina finally figured out a way to beat Virginia Tech in Chapel Hill on Saturday, doing so in impressive fashion 48-34.
Well, at least Carolina’s offense was impressive. Its defense was solid at times, but could have performed at a higher level.
As for the Hokies, their streak of at least 10 victories in eight consecutive seasons likely will come to an end. Plus, finishing the regular season better than 6-6 is a stretch considering they still must visit Miami and Clemson and host Florida State.
Here are today’s grades for the Tar Heels’ fourth win in six outings and Hokies’ third defeat in six games:
VT offense: At times, Logan Thomas looked exactly like the player so many expected to see this season. He completed 26-of-49 pass attempts for 354 yards and two touchdowns. He threw some beautiful balls, especially on several third-and-long situations. But the Hokies had no ground attack to support him, as they amassed just 40 yards on 25 attempts. Part of that was a bad snap that lost 19 yards, but it was still a bad day running the ball. Grade: B.
UNC offense: By now, Larry Fedora should be making believers out of most skeptical UNC fans that never believed they’d see a high-octane offense again in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels gorged on 533 total yards on 75 offensive plays for an average of 7.1 per snap. Bryn Renner (194 yards passing, a touchdown) was solid under center, but Gio Bernard was sensational, chewing up 262 yards on 23 carries. Overall, Carolina ran for 339 yards on a defense that was supposed to be one of the nation’s best. Grade: A.
VT defense: This was one of the worst performances put forth by a Bud Foster-coached unit. North Carolina had a field day, primarily using Bernard, but also using him to set up other stuff. UNC totaled 48 points, 533 yards (339 on the ground), 27 first downs — all of this while going only 5 of 14 on thrid downs. Grade: F.
UNC defense: While UNC gave up way too many conversions on long third-down situations, along with a few other big plays, the 394 yards allowed doesn’t look bad given what its offense did. The Heels hit Tech quarterback Thomas a lot, and get a huge late sack against him. Keep in mind, Tech had really been struggling with the football, so it was only an OK performance by the home team. Grade C.
VT intangibles: A kickoff return for a touchdown was big and the Hokies never relented, but otherwise, this was an ugly and damaging loss. Tech appeared poorly prepared and didn’t make effective in-game adjustments. Grade: C-.
UNC intangibles: A kickoff return for a touchdown will somewhat balance out the Tar Heels’ 15 penalties for 126 yards, which is pretty awful. But Carolina was ready to play, made enough plays on defense and had the great equalizer in Bernard to ride to the victory. Grade: B-.