Brown: Hokies gave ‘overrated’ UNC fact check

11: 32 PM ET

  • David M. HaleESPN Team Author


    • ACC reporter.
    • Joined ESPN in 2012.
    • Graduate of the University of Delaware.

North Carolina enjoyed an offseason stuffed with sad horse playoff buzz, nonetheless Virginia Tech upended those aspirations from the outlet kickoff Friday night, finishing with a 17-10 find in front of a raucous Lane Stadium crowd in Blacksburg, Virginia.

“Clearly the shine’s off,” UNC coach Mack Brown said of the 10th-ranked Tar Heels. “The ratings mean nothing at this point. We were overrated tonight.”

Brown said he anticipated a tenacious assault from the Hokies nonetheless became disenchanted by how his team responded.

Virginia Tech went 75 yards for a touchdown on its opening drive, fumbled after a 56-yard drive and scored any other time on its third drive to switch up 14-0. Meanwhile, the Hokies’ protection utterly flustered Sam Howell and the Tar Heels’ offense for the duration of the first half of and made a series of immense performs down the final stretch to stable the find.

“We stored placing them relief available in the second half of,” Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente said. “We couldn’t attach the sport away and the protection endured to rise to the event. It became as impressive a performance as I’ve considered. It became unbelievable. To proceed to resolution the bell in the second half of, it became in actuality impressive.”

UNC lost four stars on offense from final season — tailbacks Michael Carter and Javonte Williams, and receivers Dyami Brown and Dazz Newsome — nonetheless Brown had equipped enthusiasm for the following neighborhood of capacity region gamers. As a replace, the Tar Heels noticed repeated miscues from their receivers and tight cease, and the offensive line — regarded as a energy — struggled in the face of an unrelenting Virginia Tech pass plug.

Brown said he learned a itsy-bitsy about who’s likely to be willing to play at a high diploma nonetheless expressed disappointment that his line did now not give Howell, a preseason Heisman Trophy contender, an more than a few to construct many performs.

“If you variety now not plug the ball effectively and likewise you’ve got six sacks and likewise you want to plug for your existence,” Brown said, “we have to variety a better job of retaining him. You cannot demand a man to admire a mountainous sport when he’s obtained of us around him your full sport. That you would maybe per chance admire obtained to guard your quarterback.”

Howell performed 17-of-32 for 208 yards and a touchdown. Receiver Josh Downs had 123 yards and a TD, nonetheless the the relaxation of the receiving corps struggled to get originate downfield. UNC became with out veterans Beau Corrales and Khafre Brown in the sport.

Howell said afterward that the loss shouldn’t upend North Carolina’s expectations for the season, nonetheless he conceded the team did now not play effectively.

“We cannot let this sport outline us,” Howell said. “We know what this team is in a position to, even supposing we did now not trace it tonight. I deem we gorgeous obtained beat [tonight]. I variety now not deem the stress in actuality bothered anyone in this draw and we had a decent week of notice, and we gorgeous weren’t the better team.”

UNC has lost 11 games since Brown returned earlier than the 2019 season. This became the ninth loss by a touchdown or less.

On the assorted aspect of the sphere, Virginia Tech shrugged off an offseason of questions and hot-seat rumors surrounding Fuente to flip in a dynamic performance.

QB Braxton Burmeister performed 12-of-19 passes with a TD and ran for 53 more yards and a rating. The Hokies’ protection became outstanding, finishing with six sacks and three interceptions, including a nifty capture on Howell’s final throw by Chamarri Conner to seal the find.

For Fuente, it became a assertion find. Virginia Tech missed a bowl sport for the first time since 1992, and sooner than the Hokies knocked off rival Virginia to full final season, Fuente regarded on the precipice of losing his job. As a replace, athletic director Whit Babcock determined to defend Fuente, nonetheless in a postseason news conference, presented a series of things he well-known to scrutinize for Fuente to remain with this draw past 2021.

Friday’s find equipped an organization rebuttal to a fan execrable that hoped to scrutinize a trade made.

“For a sport nobody idea we might well find, for a neighborhood most of us had given up on, to play worship that in actuality makes me proud,” Fuente said.

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