CHAPEL HILL – The bulk of the pressure for the Tar Heels in their road game next Saturday against Georgia Tech will fall on the defense.

Associate Head Coach for Defense Vic Koenning knows it. Koenning says the key to the contest will likely come down to third down results, and he says last year, Carolina let the Jackets off the hook on far too many third and long situations.

“You watch our game last year, we had him like 12 third downs, and they were able to convert nine, and that’s the difference in the game. You get them behind schedule, and you get them in a down where they are throwing the ball, you need to be successful,” Coach Koenning says.

Standout defender Darius Lipford recorded seven tackles and a sack against Middle Tennessee last weekend, but he says the game strategy completely changes when facing Georgia Tech’s triple option.

“The main thing that we can stress for the guys is alignment assignment. Make sure you know your job and that you execute your job. This is really one of the offenses if you try and make a play, it will cost you,” Lipford says.

And maybe Lipford has a competitive advantage for this style of offense. Lipford says he learned a thing or two about defending the option back in his high school days.

“I’m just excited to make a play for the most part, coming out and trying to shut down their offense the best we can. My high school ran it, so I practiced against it a lot. And we ran a similar defense, so I feel like I can bring some things to the table to help us execute,” Lipford says.

Senior defensive end Kareem Martin says the team recognizes the extreme importance of pulling out the win in the ACC opener if they hope to be playing in the conference title game in December.

“Guys are really excited to start ACC play, especially with a team who will probably be towards the top of the league at the end of it. So we know how important it really is for us to go in there and have a good game,” Martin says. “We’ll hear about this game at the end of the year.”

At the end of the day, Coach Koenning says he is making it simple for his defense in preparation for Georgia Tech’s offense.

“You got to win. You just got to win. Guys got to get off blocks. Guys got to make tackles in space. It’s not rocket science in that respect,” Coach Koenning says.

Kickoff for Carolina-Georgia Tech is set for noon on Saturday, Sept. 21 in Atlanta. The game will be televised by one of the ESPN network stations to be announced soon. WCHL will get you fired up for the contest starting bright and early at 9 a.m. with Countdown to Kickoff with Ron Stutts presented by UNC Health Care.