After a hard-fought game against Marshall which ended in a thrilling triple-overtime victory over the Thundering Herd, the Virginia Tech Hokies look to start off strong in their conference opener against division rival Georgia Tech.
The Yellow Jackets are undefeated and are coming off of a comeback victory over the UNC Tar Heels, a team who many picked to be number one or two in the coastal division. The Virginia Tech football team has beaten the Yellow Jackets in the past three meetings, and until last year, the winner has gone on to represent their division in the ACC Championship game. With a struggling offense, Virginia Tech will have to rely on their stout defense to stop Paul Johnson’s triple-option. Here’s how the Hokies can pull off the upset.
Don’t get behind
Virginia Tech has fallen behind by more than a touchdown only once this season; that was against Alabama. Against FBS opponents, they have only been ahead by as much as 7 points, and based on their offensive performance so far, there is no evidence that they are capable of any sort of significant comeback victory, especially against Georgia Tech. If the Yellow Jackets find themselves up by any more than a touchdown or so, they will do what they do best: run the football and eat up the clock on 10-11 minute drives. The Hokies will have to keep the game close all night if they want to walk away with a victory.
Establish a running game
Time and time again, the experts remind us that in order to have a successful passing attack, teams must run the ball successfully, forcing defenses to send an extra man to stop the run and opening up holes in the passing routes. Logan Thomas has proven in the past couple of games that he has still not quite gotten over his tendency to throw into double and triple coverage. He already has thrown 6 interceptions, one more than his goal for the season. If he wants to keep that number where it is, he’ll have to find open receivers. Georgia Tech is good, but they are not elite. This is not a game where Virginia Tech will have to take risks in order to achieve award.
Stop the option
Bud Foster and co. have had relative success stopping the triple option. A team like Georgia Tech is going to get first downs, and they are going to have several big gains on the ground just by the nature of their offense. The front seven will have to get past their blockers and have tackles for loss. If it’s fourth-and-one, they can expect Georgia Tech to go for it, and probably get the first down. Fortunately, besides the freshman defensive backs, this defense is loaded with veterans, and has played against Georgia Tech a few times.
Don’t turn the ball over
When Georgia Tech forces a turnover, they make their opponent pay for it. Even if they do not score on their ensuing drive, they will chew up precious time, making it that much harder to score points.
If the Hokies can get their offense going, and limit their turnovers to only a couple, they have a serious chance to upset the Yellow Jackets.