Six Questions with Gobbler Country
First and foremost, the Canes have to avoid turnovers. UNC’s last four drives ended with turnovers and it sprinkled a muffed punt in there as well. The game would have been completely different if UNC had been able to hang on to the ball.
Miami needs to establish, and stick to, the run game. As good as Stephen Morris has played so far, the Canes’ run game has done a good job of taking pressure off him by being successful. You guys have an impressive stable of backs that all complement each other very well. The guy I’m most worried about in this game is Damien Berry because teams have been able to gash us between the tackles this year. The Canes can’t afford to abandon the run game if it’s not gaining ground early, though. Same with Virginia Tech.
They also need to contain Tyrod Taylor. When teams have blitzed Tyrod, he’s been able to make plays. But it seems like recently when Tyrod has had a ton of time in the pocket, he’s chosen to stay there and try to force the ball downfield instead of take off running. Teams that rely on good coverage, rather than blitzing, have had success against Tech’s passing game.
2) How do you think Beamer, Foster, et. al. were able to turn the season around after starting 0-2 to Boise State and James Madison? Were Hokie fans sticking by the coaches during this time?
It would have been easy to write this season off as a lost cause after the JMU game, but the team seems to have rallied around the goal of winning the ACC. It’s been a great coaching job by the staff of fixing things that were plaguing both sides of the ball early and not folding after getting down early in games.
No Hokie fans have stuck with the offensive coaching staff at any time, win or lose, so you can imagine the uproar after the JMU loss. As for Bud Foster and Frank Beamer, there’s always been a consensus that whatever ails the defense will eventually be fixed. For the most part that’s been true, but we still can’t stop the run this year.
3) What type of offensive game plan do you expect VA Tech to employ against the ‘Canes?
You’ll see us try to pound the ball, I’m sure. As long as we aren’t running draws out of the shotgun I’ll be happy. I’d like to see some more zone-read option like we saw in the middle part of the season with Tyrod as well as some counter plays. Stuff like that to try and use Miami’s speed and over pursuit against it.
It’s going to be tough sledding against the Canes’ D, though. The front seven is imposing and the secondary has been outstanding lately.
4) Who would the Hokies rather have at QB for Miami: Jacory Harris or Stephen Morris?
If this game were in Blacksburg, I’d say Morris, because you always prefer the freshman coming into that environment. But in Miami, I’d say Jacory Harris. Even though Harris has historically been really, really good at home, I think you’d rather see him simply because he’s a known commodity. There’s a lot more film available on Harris than Morris and he’s going to be easier to prepare for. He may execute better than the freshman, but you know what to expect.
5) In your opinion, what are the Hokies’ greatest strength and weakness, offensively and defensively?
On defense, it’s definitely the secondary. I had high hopes for them going into the year and they’ve exceeded my expectations. We had trouble with blown coverage against slot receivers early on and responded by switching primarily to nickel and adding Antone Exum to the secondary. Surrounded by veterans, he’s been outstanding and I expect him to have a great career. The weakness on defense is run defense and tackling. That combination could lead to a big gain or two by Lamar Miller.
On offense, the strength is our running game with three solid backs. The run blocking, which was atrocious early on, has improved. The outside run blocking by the tight ends and receivers has always been good. Danny Coale is one of the better run-blocking receivers we’ve seen at Tech and that has helped turn 5-10 yard gains into 10-20 yard gains. The weakness is our tendency to sometimes abandon the run at times.
6) Recruiting question: What area do the Hokies consider to be their base recruiting area i.e. Tidewater/Newport News and who is their biggest competition to retain this area.
It’s definitely the “757,” that Tidewater/Newport News area you’re talking about. Right now the biggest competition is UVA with new coach Mike London, who has a lot of ties to that area and UNC’s Butch Davis has pulled some good talent out of the 757 since he arrived at UNC.
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