Friday, September 03, 2010

Now Witness The Power of This Fully Operational Defense

The wait is finally over. College football officially made its 2010 debut with last night’s games. This weekend across the country football fans will once again be able to watch the game they love. Can I get a “Woohoo?”

No game this weekend is bigger than the one pitting the #3 Boise State Broncos against the #10 Hokies. (#5 and #6 if you look at the Coaches Poll.) The game will be played at “neutral” FedEx Field in the metro-DC area. Metro-DC, being perhaps the largest concentration of Virginia Tech alum, can hardly be called neutral. It’s like saying sure I can outswim a shark, but only if the race is in my neighborhood pool. Water is still water and he’s still in his element.

Still, one must give AD Jim Weaver and the rest of the decision makers credit for even scheduling Boise. In a world where everyone feels compelled to dismiss the Broncos success as a product of the perceived weakness of their schedule, it seems that there are few that will actually step up to the challenge of playing them. I’m looking at you Gators.

The truth is the Broncos will have to continue to show their dominance in order to gain the respect that they deserve. This brings us to this game on Monday.

The Broncos have everything to gain with a win against the Hokies. Outside of Oregon State, the Broncos will not see this level of competition the rest of the season. (Yeah, yeah, there’s that pesky weakness of schedule talk. You’re telling me there aren’t other schools that don’t have only two “real games” on their schedule?) If the Broncos do win on Labor Day, they’re going to look pretty damn good for another run, and be the first team outside of the BCMess conferences to play in the National Championship Game.

Conversely, the Hokies have a team that is stacked on offense. That, combined with Coach Bud Foster’s ability to produce diamonds from coal dust, can put the Hokies in a good place if they can pull off this victory.

Here’s a breakdown of the different matchups we’ll see next week.

Boise State O-line vs. Virginia Tech D-line

Boise offensive line is pretty lean. If you couple that with a big shuffle of personnel, we could see some jittery plays, especially early on. Like the Hokies, the Broncos have injury problems on the left side. Joe Kellogg, their left guard, has injury problems and may have practiced on Wednesday. Nate Potter has been playing guard even though he was the left tackle last year. All in all it looks like they’re still trying to figure out how to play the line and that can’t be good.

The Broncos are heading to DC tomorrow evening (which seems late) and will probably still be making adjustments.

The Hokies have some questions here, but I like the likes of Steven Friday, and J.R. Collins. Both did well in the last scrimmage.

Overall, I like this fact: the Hokie offense has vastly improved from years past. What this provides is a great springboard to work on the skills of this less experienced defense.

Boise State Wideouts vs. Virginia Tech Secondary

Much has been heralded about the attack that Kellen Moore’s arm and ability to get to the end zone. His ability in the red zone is sick. In 2009, he had 27 red zone touchdowns with one interception. However, the cat’s out of the bag and the majority of those were Austin Pettis. As we’ll see later in my keys to the game, smothering him, especially in the red zone will be one of the keys to winning this game.

The other receivers are pretty sick as well, most notably Titus Young. The Hokie backfield will have their work cut out for them. Coach Foster's strategy may have been revealed slightly when the travel roster came out last week.

Virginia Tech O-line vs. Boise State D-line

There’s been talk about how strong Ryan Winterswyk is at end and how much trouble he may give Andrew Lanier since Nick Becton’s status is still unpredictable with the recent turf-toe injury. [Becton was given the go-ahead to play yesterday, but it’s unclear how much.] While I agree this is a question, especially since we're talking about Tyrod Taylor’s blind side, I think Lanier has been practicing well and I envision 18-eggs-a-day Greg Nosal can help out a bit on this side. David Wang (brother of Ed Wang) is Nosal’s backup and he has already proven to be a valuable asset at guard. Overall, the Hokies O-line looks pretty solid, especially if Becton is back and can be affective. Boise’s D-line had been productive in 2009, but I don’t believe they’ve faced the talent that we’ll have in the trenches.

Also, with four threats in the back-field (Ryan Williams, Darren Evans, David Wilson, and Tyrod Taylor), I’m confident that the Hokies will be wearing these guys down and forcing the defense to put way too many in the box. This should open up the secondary for the big play… if Stinespring has the vision to see that. Play action screens, something that Stiney learned to do late in the season last year will be important once the Broncos are tired and/or when they start to cheat. See keys to victory below.

Virginia Tech Wideouts vs. Boise State Secondary

The running corp. aside, the Hokie wideouts are tremendously talented. Danny Coale, Dyrell Roberts, Jarrett Boykin, and D.J. Coles all had fantastic summers. I have watched these guys mature over the years and, it wasn’t until mid-season last year, that the coaches figured out how to use them properly. See MadJay’s post on Stiney.

Boise will have to be guarding against the run. With that much concern going into stopping the monster backs, the big play potential is there.

Speaking of big play: the Hokie coaches seem bent on emptying the clip on this year. Every possible weapon they have, they’re using. This includes not redshirting David Wilson and potentially playing second-string quarterback Logan Thomas at tight end. Though, since it’s been announced that Thomas is truly the second-string QB, it’s doubtful the staff will endanger him in this way.

Overall Keys To Victory

1) Contain Pettis – Based on what I’ve seen in the travel roster, I truly believe that Foster will be running several plays in the nickle of dime, giving the Hokies an extra back (or two) to contain Pettis. Based on the guys they’re taking, I think Foster is going for one thing: SPEED. They’ll need that speed to close the gaps, especially if they double Pettis and play the other receivers loose. I think Foster is like the lead architect of the second Death Star. You think it isn't ready but when you send in the rebels... cue General Ackbar.

2) Establish the run game, control the clock – This is absolutely necessary for several reasons.

a. Wear down the Broncos' front line

b. Burn the cheating DBs on play action or screen/slant passes.

c. Keep the ball out of Kellen Moore’s hands.

3) Score early – Lets face it, that’s always a key, but remember that this is – for all intents and purposes – a home game. Keep the Hokie faithful involved and force Boise State to be single minded and this game should go in Tech’s favor.

4) Everyone’s favorite key – Special Teams – We don’t know how our kickers are going to perform at game speed. If they can pull through and knock in those fieldgoals and make field position the Hokies’ friend, MadJay’s and my heart rates will stay just under the danger level.

On that note, I think we’ll have 9-1 dialed into our phones, just in case.

Let's Go!


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