September 29, 2010
Matchups to Watch: NC State
Virginia Tech heads to Raleigh this week to take on ACC upstart NC State, which has bounced out to a 4-0 start behind Russell Wilson at quarterback. As Tech prepares for this huge matchup in the North Carolina capital, let's look at a few things to watch this week.
Matchups to Watch
VT DEs Steven Friday, Chris Drager, J.R. Collins, and James Gayle vs. NC State OTs Jake Vermiglio and R.J. Mattes
The pass rush Friday and especially Drager generated on Saturday at Boston College completely turned the game from a toss-up into a game where it seemed like Virginia Tech was in complete control, despite the lack of a runaway score. Drager was relentless in his pursuit of the quarterback, and looks to be back to 100%. James Gayle was also impressive on Saturday; he plays with a high motor and a mean streak and should continue to get better. Getting by NC State's tackle tandem of Vermiglio and Mattes and getting pressure on Wilson would qualify as an effective deterrent to the NC State offensive attack.
VT DTs John Graves, Antoine Hopkins, and Derrick Hopkins vs. NC State OGs Andrew Wallace and Zach Allen
Despite the pressure Virginia Tech generated against the pass, the rush defense at the point of attack still lacked a consistent effort. The Wolfpack's interior line, including center Camden Wentz, are all sophomores. That could spell an advantage for senior John Graves, and make the jobs easier for sophomore Antoine Hopkins and freshman Derrick Hopkins. NC State has proved their ability to win with both the run and the pass this year, but everyone knows defending the run is the key to shutting down any offense, and it starts deep in the trenches.
NC State MLB Nate Irving vs. VT Offensive Line
Last year, Virginia Tech dominated the Wolfpack front seven and that led to a huge game from running back Ryan Williams. This year's Wolfpack front seven is a lot different thanks to the presence of Nate Irving, who missed all of last year with a broken leg suffered in a car accident. He has completely changed the attitude and belief of the NC State defense and has been an emotional leader in his return to the field. If he is allowed to roam sideline to sideline, expect a Wolfpack victory.
Things to Watch
Red Zone Offense
This week's hot topic has been the red zone and VT's troubles within it, something that led to four field goals last week against Boston College. There has been some talk about some new plays being introduced into the playbook. Could Logan Thomas make his debut as a redzone H-Back? Will Virginia Tech reintroduce the sweep/toss play to the tailback that was a touchdown machine during the Lee Suggs/Kevin Jones eras? Lots of intrigue will occur once Tech enters the red zone on Saturday afternoon.
Whitley talked about his recruiting experience and how many people he knows at NC State on Tech Talk Live Monday night. Now, he is too good and respectful a person to say it outright, but you can bet that he wants to beat these guys and show them they made a mistake during his recruiting process. Look for Whitley to be all over the place Saturday afternoon.
Players You May Remember
Recruiting coverage is a key-part of the experience at HokieHaven. Over a recruiting cycle, you become familiar with many, many names and prospects. Here are a few on NC State that you may remember.
RB Brandon Barnes - Bunn, NC (Bunn HS)
QB Tyler Brosius - Waynesville, NC ( Tuscola HS)
RB Anthony Creecy - Durham, NC (Southern HS)
OT Robert Crisp - Raleigh, NC (Athens Drive HS)
QB Mike Glennon - Centreville, VA (Westfield HS)
LB Terrell Manning - Laurinberg, NC (Scotland Co.)
DT Brian Slay - Ashburn, VA (Stone Bridge HS)
WR Jay Smith - Norfolk, VA (Lake Taylor HS)
QB Russell Wilson - Richmond, VA (Collegiate School)
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