2010 Football Previews–Virginia Tech

Friday, November 26 2010 by Tiki

To many Virginia fans, and most Virginia Tech fans, this is the most important week of the year. Many of the players will say the same thing, and while the coaches may not say it aloud, they probably think the same thing.

The Hoos and Hokies rivalry has taken on added significance since the Hokies joined the ACC, and a few times the game has been for the right to play in the ACC championship game. This year is not one of those times.

The hoos have already been eliminated from bowl contention, and Hokies have already clinched the Coastal Division championship. The Hokies would like to continue their 9 game winning streak and make themselves a little more appealing to bowls. The Hoos are playing out the string, but know that a win over the Hokies would completely change the byline on the season.

The Hoos haven’t won this matchup since 2003, and have lost 10 out of 11. How will this year’s game look?

Virginia on Offense

The biggest key for the Hoos this week is turnovers. They have struggled all year long with turnovers, and the Hokies happen to be the #1 team in the nation in turnover margin. The games that we’ve won, we’ve been ahead in the turnover battle. In the only big win we’ve had this year, against Miami, we had 0 turnovers.

The Hokies have a great pass defense, led by a veteran secondary. Sophomore CB Jayron Hosley leads the nation with 8 interceptions on the season, and the secondary as a whole has 17. For Marc Verica, this is bad news, as he has been prone to interceptions, and that includes previous games against the Hokies.

On the bright side, Virginia Tech’s run defense is mediocre. They are 7th in the ACC in rush defense, and their LBs are somewhat young and inexperienced. The leading tackler on the team is sophomore ILB Bruce Taylor, and then the 2 safeties (or rather a safety and a “Rover” which is VT’s name for the strong safety. That position is manned by senior Davon Morgan, and they will use him all over the field.

Considering the strong play all season by the Hoos OL, and the return of senior RB Keith Payne, there certainly is potential for the Hoos to have a successful day running the ball. The question is will Offensive Coordinator Bill Lazor be patient enough with the ground game for it to make a difference.

Virginia on Defense

The matchup on this side of the ball is similar, in that the Hoos defense is much better against the pass than against the run. In this case, however, the Hokies have had much more success on the ground as opposed to the air. Some of this is due to senior QB Tyrod Taylor, who is frankly more dangerous with his legs than with his arms. Of course, don’t say that to a Hokie fan, because they will fight you to the death over this.

Frankly, Tyrod Taylor’s career has been somewhat disappointing. Not really from a standpoint of success, because he has won a lot of games. The truth is that Taylor hasn’t really progressed over his career. He is essentially the same player as a senior that he was as a freshman. I think it is safe to say that the Hokies expected more after the start he had.

On the ground, besides Taylor the Hokies have spread the ball around. Junior RB Darren Evans leads the team with 678 yards rushing, but sophomores David Wilson and Ryan Williams are also both over 400 yards and have both had their moments.

Considering the struggles we’ve had defensively, I would expect Tech to run Taylor on a lot of QB options, and combine that with play action. I simply can’t see us being very successful against a strong offensive team like the Hokies.

Conclusion

I know that a Mike London coached team will come out ready to fight. And I know that the players will be pumped to face their in-state rivals. And, I know that the Hokies will be equally motivated.

Neither team really has much to play for beyond pride. The real issue here is that the Hokies are simply a more talented team, and are playing at home. The only way we manage to stay in this game is if the Hokies make mistakes, and we don’t.

Hokies 44, Hoos 20

4 comment(s) and 0 trackback(s)

Clearly you don't know what you're talking about regarding Taylor's progress. He went from an athlete with little understanding of the offense and a run-first mentality, to an athletic quaterback who leads the ACC in passing efficiency and keeps his eyes down field even when he's forced to scramble. He was never given the authority to audible at the line of scrimmage, and now the coaching staff has complete confidence in him and allow him to audible whenever he chooses. Sounds like quite a lot of progress/development/improvement if you ask me.

Clearly you don't know what you're talking about regarding Taylor's progress. He went from an athlete with little understanding of the offense and a run-first mentality, to an athletic quaterback who leads the ACC in passing efficiency and keeps his eyes down field even when he's forced to scramble. He was never given the authority to audible at the line of scrimmage, and now the coaching staff has complete confidence in him and allow him to audible whenever he chooses. Sounds like quite a lot of progress/development/improvement if you ask me.

Chicagomaroon wrote on Saturday, November 27 2010

Not fight you to the death no, but as a former self-proclaimed Hokie fan who did not love Tyrod Taylor on the field, I think I can offer some perspective. Firstly, you are wrong. As Pat stated, Tyrod has done an about face since his days as a freshman and even a sophomore. It wasn't until the stretch run of 2009 that he really evolved as a passer to the point that he would dispel your notion that he was strictly a runner. Now, as Pat mentioned he leads the ACC in passing efficiency, he is going to win the ACC Player of the Year and Dudley Awards and has broken almost every major passing record at Tech (minus 4, 2 of which he has a legitimate shot at).

As countless pundits have remarked, nobody in all of college football has been playing BETTER at the QB position this year. He's right up there with the Kellen Moore's and the Cam Newton's even if his stats don't match simply because he's not afforded the number of attempts they are. But looking at his stats, he has over 2,000 yards through the air while completing 61% of his passes and throwing 19 TD's passing to only 4 INT's on 233 attempts. That's phenomenal! Additionally, he does have some pretty gaudy rushing stats for a QB in an offensive backfield that has four 400-yard rushers.

Here's the proof of his improvement. As a sophomore Taylor had just 1,036 yards through the air, completing only 57% and throwing 2 TD's to 7 INT's while playing in every game but 2 and starting 10.

So to clear the air, is Taylor ever going to be an NFL quarterback? No. But has he improved DRASTICALLY over his four years to be one of college football's best QB's? Absolutely.

I guess I proved my point regarding tech fans. As an opposing fan, I am still eway more afraid of Taylor running than throwing. I think a fair amount of his "progression" is due to a stronger ground game and a change in the offensive gameplans due to it. Taylor's numbers as a passer are better, but I see his passing mechanics still being terrible, and he misses far too many passes. He seems to have open guys all the time, which is a credit to their offensive coaching staff and talent. I don't see Taylor as being the reason the offense is as good as it is.

Regardless, I still say that tech fans expected more out of Taylor as a senior than they've gotten, based on what he was as a freshman. Nobody outside of VA thinks he is one of the top QBs in the country.