Coming off their win against North Carolina State, Boston College hosts Virginia Tech this Saturday in a contests that pits two one-loss teams against each other. Fans on both sides have some bitter memories left over from last year when a Hokie squad fell apart in the last minutes of a regular season game allowing for a Boston College comeback to preserve their #2 ranking. Also in that mix, Boston College fans remember the payback of which Virgina Tech dreamed and towards which they worked the remainder of the season. That payback of course came in the form of a Hokie ACC title victory against the Eagles. Both teams find themselves in the midst of a rebuilding season, and as a result one wouldn't be too far off the reservation to say the squads match up against each other rather evenly.
So just what do the Hokies face on Saturday night? Filling the very large shoes of last year's Eagle quarterback, Matt Ryan, Chris Crane takes the helm for the offense. Standing at 6'4", the quarterback has passed for 889 yards so far this season. The 5th year Senior hasn't exactly displayed consistency throughout the season, however. Nearly half of his passing yards on the season came against last week's contest against the Wolfpack. Boston College head coach Jeff Jaogodzinski has stated, "If we get that Chris Crane, I think we have a heck of a chance [the rest of the season]" in reference to his play against North Carolina State. Chris Crane looks to wide receivers Rich Gunnel and Branden Robinson. Combined, they have received for 390 yards. You'll notice that the 390 yards doesn't even represent half of the total 889 yards for which Crane has thrown this season. That indicates some depth in the Boston College receiver core. On the Ground, the Boston College offense turns to Montel Harris. Only a Freshman, he stands 5-10 at 192 lbs. He's run for three touchdown and for 313 yards. If he's got the starting job with these numbers, you can be sure about two things: 2008 is a rebuilding year for the Eagles and this player can really run the ball. Sharing the ball carrying duties with slightly more than half the rushing yards of his counterpart, 5'9", 198 lbs. Jeff Smith has run for 289 yards and for 2 touchdowns on the season so far.
Considering what the Eagles have in their offense, I think we will see their early game lean more towards passing than rushing. Since quarterback Chris Cane comes fresh off his best passing performance to date, it makes most sense for their offensive coordinator to take that road out of the gate. If that works for them through the first half, they'll probably stick with it, only calling run plays occasionally. If the passing game doesn't succeed to too great an extent, anybody can probably guess that they'll revert to a running game. Thinking about all of my above stated thought, I begin to worry because from the games I've watched this season, the Hokie rushing defense has outperformed the squad's passing defense. If the successful passer Chris Cane shows up to play, Virginia Tech's Macho Harris will need to play to the top of his game.
Moving on to the Boston College defense, they rank second in the ACC in points allowed per game, second in pass defense, and second in rushing defense. The Hokie offense, as the TSF staff has much discussed this season, probably earns a meager C, maybe a C-; that may even be a little too generous. If this game turns into a high scoring contents, I have some real reservations about whether the Hokie offense can keep up with such a scoring pace. Like so many other games, so much rests on defensive coordinator Bud Foster and his squad.
So what does the Hokie offense need to do against the Eagle defense? This presents a tough question to answer when the statistics and the numbers indicate Boston College to have a well rounded squad on the other side of the ball. In light of the injury sustained by running back Kenny Lewis, Jr., Virginia Tech turns to Darren Evans and Josh Oglesby for the ball carrying. Kenny Lewis, Jr had the number one spot for good reason, but Oglesby and Evans both have the capability to fill the role. Really, Evans has already done that to a great extent. The Hokies haven't had terribly great success at the passing game. The successes on offense close to evenly divide between tailback running plays and quarterback scrambles by Tyrod Taylor. Folks, it might be ugly, but it probably has the makings of the Hokie's best shot to penetrate the Eagle defense. I've called for the development of the long passing game, and with exception to a few well execute pass plays to tight ends, we really haven't witnessed a well established, consistent passing game, and unfortunately, a contest against Boston College doesn't present the best of opportunities to try new things. Looking at the big picture, I still think our boys have a good shot. Despite the one-loss season for the Hokies, our squad knows they've received some gifts (at least they should know) in prior games this season in the form of irresponsible penalties committed by opponents and questionable referee calls late in the game. Despite head coach Frank Beamer's tap dance in the locker room, I have to imagine the coaching staff knows this and wants to improve upon it. Let's hope the dissatisfaction with last year's regular season loss to Boston College still looms in the minds of Hokie players and coaches so as to serve as a motivator for this season's contest.
Let's go Hokies!
Saturday, Oct. 18, 2008
Kickoff: 8 PM
Alumni Stadium (44,500)
Chestnut Hill, Mass.
Series vs. BC: VT leads, 10-5
Virginia Tech HOKIES 4-1, 2-0
Boston College EAGLES 4-1, 1-1
 USA Today: http://www.usatoday.com/sports/college/football/acc/bc.htm