Let the Battle Commence!

After a long off-season that too often featured expansion speculation and other distractions, the 2010 college football season is finally here. Boise State and Virginia Tech take to the field tonight in one of the featured regular season games of the year. Inside, an in-depth analysis of the contest. (Note: Photos courtesy of Foto208.com--all rights reserved.)

As this is the final article of the 45-Day Countdown, I want to personally thank and congratulate each of the fine writers both of BroncoCountry and the Guest Contributors from Virginia Tech. They have made this year's Countdown one of the most special ever. Their insight has made the Blue Turf Board a must-view and the front page articles "must-reads" for any serious Bronco fan.

This overview of tonight's clash between Boise State and Virginia Tech is gleaned from the position articles of both teams. It is their great work that is featured in this article.

Legendary coach Frank Beamer has built the Hokies into a consistent national power. Beamer quite simply has developed Virginia Tech into a model for a college football team. Offensive line coach Curt Newsome has made the Hokie offensive line into a powerful force. That Virginia Tech features one of the top running attacks in America is a testament not only to their talented backs but also the guys up front. Virginia Tech features a huge line led by senior center Beau Warren (6-3, 292). Warren's fellow starters look to be left tackle Neck Becton (6-6, 307, So.), left guard Greg Nosal (6-6, 285, Jr.), Jaymes Brooks (6-2, 304, Jr.) at right guard and Blake DeChristopher (6-5, 300, Jr.) at right tackle. Warren is the unquestioned leader of the group who makes everyone around him better. Becton is the least experienced lineman but had a good spring and is ready to move into the lineup. Nosal was essentially VT's sixth starter last year and played both guard positions. Nosal has good balance and mobility downfield. Brooks earned his first start in the 2008 Orange Bowl and has been impressing ever since. He is sturdy and dependable. DeChristopher is the mauler of the group. He gets a great push that the running backs will key off of.

. Senior quarterback Tyrod Taylor is a four-year starter who exhibits the poise, mobility and leadership that only a great player can do. VT quarterbacks are asked to be efficient and that is what Taylor does. He placed in the top ten in the country in passing efficiency last year, averaging 17 yards per completion. He throws a great deep ball, is remarkably accurate throwing on the run and is of course a nightmare to defend because of his running ability. Taylor buys countless seconds in the pocket by escaping oncoming pass rushers.

The tandem of sophomore Ryan Williams (5-10, 210) and junior Darren Evans (6-0, 213) is the best duo of running backs in the nation. Williams is shifty and quick to the hole with good speed. He has outstanding vision and respectable power. It has been said that "Williams' moves have moves." Evans is big and powerful and faster than Williams. In Evans and Williams, the Hokies feature the top two Atlantic Coast Conference Rookies of the Year.

Flanker Danny Coale (6-0, 205, Jr.) runs nice crisp routes, has sub 4.4 speed and has great hands. Dyrell Roberts (6-1, 192, Jr.) should also see plenty of playing time as the Hokies love to run reverses with him. Jarrett Boykin (6-2, 213, Jr.) is a consistent playmaker who accounts for 29% of receptions, 35% of yards and 36% of touchdown receptions for the Hokies. He averaged 20.9 yards per catch last season. Tight end Andre Smith (6-5, 271, Sr.) is a good, solid blocker that gives VT another big body on the line.

Defensively, the Hokies must replace several starters but have a reputation for reloading.The Hokies have built a tradition of featuring good speed along the defensive front. They also like big, stout defensive tackles to anchor the line. They'll be looking to get good leverage by getting under the pads of the Bronco offensive linemen to push past the guards and begin disrupting the play from the snap. Senior John Graves (6-3, 283) is an exceptional athlete who excels at run defense. Graves will look to get the push into the Bronco backfield and clog the middle. Kwamaine Battle (6-0, 297, Jr.) and Antoine Hopkins (6-0, 296, So.) were fighting for the other tackle spot. Battle has a good combination of strength and quickness while Hopkins turned the corner this spring and is ready for plenty of game action.

The D-lineman known as "The End" lines up on the short side of the field. He will secure the edge in the Hokie run defense. When defensive coordinator Bud Foster calls for a zone blitz, the Hokie ends are called upon to drop into pass coverage. Thus, the ends must possess brute strength and be good athletes as well. Chris Drager (6-3, 260, Jr.) saw action in all 13 games last season and had 22 tackles, 6.5 for loss. The Hokies look for "The Stud" to penetrate the backfield and harass the quarterback. Senior Steven Friday is poised to be the new starter at Stud after being named the most improved defensive player of the spring. Friday is a talented pass rusher who is ready to become an every down player.

The Mike (middle) linebacker will line up towards the wide side of the field and looks to be physical at the point of attack. Sophomore Bruce Taylor (6-2, 246) has had to fight off nagging injuries in his career. He is huge but also quick to the ball. The Backer will play the short side of the field and is responsible for backside containment and pursuit. Sophomore Lyndell Gibson (5-11, 232) was a part-time starter last season who recorded 53 tackles. Gibson has a great upside and he has improved tremendously since coming to Blacksburg. The Whip lines up outside the defensive end on the wide side of the field that is a hybrid in that they must be part outside linebacker, part strong safety. Sophomore Jeron Gouveia-Winslow tops the depth chart at the Whip. While Gouveia-Winslow hasn't seen a lot of action, he knows the position. Alonzo Tweedy (6-2, 188, So.) was a spectacular performer on special teams last year with 4.41 speed who could get the start.

The boundary corner lines up on the short side of the field that is aggressive, tough and excels at man-to-man coverage. Rashad Carmichael (5-11, 190, Sr.) had a solid season in 2009 in his first year as the starter, posting 55 tackles, six interceptions and six passes broken up. Carmichael runs a 4.29 40. The field corner, meanwhile, will line up on the wide side and has less responsibility in run defense because the Whip is nearby. Jayron Hosley (5-10, 172, So.) played in all 13 games as a true freshman. He is a playmaker and is a threat to take it all the way if he picks one off.

Eddie Whitley (6-1, 191, Jr.) looks to take over at free safety this season for the Hokies. He is a hard-hitter and will be called upon to recognize offensive formations and communicate that to his defensive teammates. Senior Davon Morgan (6-0, 198) has contributed since day one on campus and will start at strong safety.

Virginia Tech's special teams are famous for hard-nosed, aggressive play, sure tackling, creating turnovers and scoring touchdowns on those turnovers. Senior Chris Hazley (6-1, 196) has waited patiently for his turn at placekicker and he is the man this fall. Hazley had an excellent fall camp that included field goals of 48 and 43 yards. Hazley has a good strong leg and recorded 22 touchbacks and was a key reason why Tech led the ACC in kickoff return coverage. Senior punter Brian Saunders was recently awarded with a scholarship and the starting job. He has a good leg as evidenced by a 46-yard average in Hokie scrimmages. He suffered a bruised right ankle on August 23 but is expected to be fine.

Roberts was fourth in the nation in kickoff returns last year (31.89) and Hosley is dangerous as well in the punt return game. Hosley was 23rd in the county last season with an 11.23 yards per return average. Sophomore David Wilson is another threat. The Broncos will need to watch out for punt blocker Chris Hill. Hill has been excellent coming off the edge recently and recorded two blocked kicks towards the end of Hokie camp.

Meanwhile, Boise State coach Chris Petersen has shuffled his lineup of assistants. Chris Strausser returns to his former position of offensive line coach and will lead the group in a new direction. Senior Will Lawrence (6-2, 293) is the dependable force of the Bronco running game. Center Thomas Byrd (5-11, 284) is a stout blocker. Tackle Nate Potter (6-6, 293, Jr.) had experimented with a move to guard but will likely return to his spot at left tackle due to an injury to Faraji Wright. Joe Kellogg would start at the guard position. Brenel Myers (6-2, 267) looks to start at the other tackle position.

Poised, experienced, reliable Kellen Moore returns for his third season as the starting Bronco quarterback. Moore posted an NCAA record ratio of 39 TD passes to just three interceptions last year. Moore threw for 3,536 yards last season and was second in the nation with an efficiency rating of 161.65. Moore is an avid film studier and exhibits great toughness and leadership skills on the field.

Boise State had 2,605 rushing yards last season with 30 TD's, but is looking for more from its running backs. Decimated by injuries last season, the unit still turned in a solid performance. Converted nickel back Doug Martin found his mojo and was recently named the starter against Virginia Tech. Martin has been described as an angry runner and picks up the north-south yards that coaches love. Jeremy Avery has been the "lightning" of the Bronco attack, gaining 1,151 yards last season. D.J. Harper was a sensational combination of speed and power last season until a torn ACL sidelined him during week three.

Diminutive Titus Young (5-11, 170, Sr.) had over 2,000 all-purpose yards last season in leading the Broncos with 15 touchdowns. Young has 4.4 speed and has made himself more than just a deep threat. The immensely talented Austin Pettis (6-3, 201, Sr.) has become famous for his leaping, acrobatic catches in the end zone. Pettis set a school record last season with 14 receiving touchdowns and can break 30-year old school marks for career receptions and career TD's this season. Pettis and Young are a great duo, but it is imperative that the Broncos develop third and fourth wide receivers this season. Sophomore Kirby Moore (6-2, 196) runs smooth routes and set a national high school record in career touchdowns. Tyler Shoemaker (6-1, 207, Jr.) has the blue-collar mentality and sure hands. Shoemaker runs clean routes and is on the same page with Moore when improvisation is required. Mitch Burroughs (5-9, 188) is fast and had a great fall camp. Chris Potter (5-9, 161) is quick and has great hands. Boise State is excited about redshirt freshmen Aaron Burks (6-2, 186) and Geraldo Hiwat (6-4, 189). Burks is lanky and has good hands and decent speed. Hiwat has the great frame and blazing speed.

Tight end Tommy Gallarda (6-5, 255) excels at run blocking but will be called upon to be more of a factor in the Bronco passing game this fall. Junior Kyle Efaw (6-4, 240) had a great season that ended with an honor as the Offensive Most Valuable Player in the Fiesta Bowl. Efaw finished the season with 31 catches for 444 yards.

For the first time in its history, Boise State now has the depth on the defensive line to rotate fresh troops without missing a beat against the top teams in the country. Juniors Chase Baker (6-1, 300) and Billy Winn (6-4, 290) are solid and dependable. Baker has great core strength and the ability to fight through double teams to clog up running lanes. Winn has the athleticism and speed that you normally don't see in a defensive tackle. Despite being a Freshman All-American and having a stellar sophomore season, Winn still has untapped potential. Junior J.P. Nisby (6-1, 314) and Chuck Hayes (6-2, 292) are ready to make their most complete contributions to date. Michael "Bacon" Atkinson (6-0, 335 will also be called upon to plug up the middle.

Senior Ryan Winterswyk (6-4, 267) has consistently improved to the point where he is now one of the best pass rushers in the land. Winterswyk has always had good speed and quickness but his technique and ability to fight through blocks is what has made him a standout on the Bronco defense. Junior Shea McClellin (6-3, 258) is adept at closing down the outside run game. Junior Jarrell Root (6-3, 259) has good instincts and aggressive play. Freshman Kharyee Marshall (6-1, 212) is not going to wait to be the "star of the future"; he will exhibit his 4.42 speed and ferociousness this season. JC transfer Tyrone Crawford (6-4, 275) was originally going to redshirt but an injury plus Crawford's outstanding play has changed Bronco plans and Crawford will line up this fall.

Boise State's linebackers are incredible at making the linebacking by committee approach work. No less than seven game-ready players highlight the unit. J.C. Percy (6-0, 214, So.) was second on the team with 64 stops as a freshman. Percy is big and tough and extremely smart and fast. Weakside linebacker Aaron Tevis (6-3, 228, Jr.) is quick and agile with an incredible motor. Tevis excels in pass defense. Derrell Acrey (6-1, 235, Sr.) is the emotional leader not only of the defense but the entire Bronco team. Acrey has great hands and is adept in pass coverage. He has the speed, strength and size to be a disruptive force this fall. Hunter White (5-11, 224, Jr.) uses speed and athleticism to quickly converge on the ball carrier. Daron Mackey (5-11, 233, Sr.) has great raw athletic ability and is always around the ball. Byron Hout (6-0, 241, Jr.) has moved back to his natural position, where he can use his great instincts, speed and range to show his great athletic ability.

Hybrid nickel back Winston Venable (5-11, 233, Sr.) was one of the major reasons for Boise State's success last year. The former JC transfer stepped in immediately and starred for the Broncos. Venable is a great playmaker with highlight reel performances.

Cornerback Brandyn Thompson (5-10, 180, Sr.) came into his own last season partly because opponents avoided All-American Kyle Wilson. Thompson had six interceptions and became a much better player because of it. Jamar Taylor (5-11, 193) has been "wowing" people since he arrived and the sophomore will make noise this season as the starter opposite Thompson. Taylor is very physical and smart with tremendous upside. Senior Jeron Johnson (5-11, 194) and junior George Iloka (6-3, 207) form one of the nation's best safety duos. Johnson is a hitting machine who has led the Broncos in tackles in each of the past two seasons. JJ has been laying his licks and terrorizing opposing ball carriers his entire career. Iloka is a solid, instinctive player with great size, athletic ability, speed and range. Jerrell Gavins (5-9, 171) is a dependable corner with great speed and will see plenty of action. Junior Cedric Febis (6-3, 197) is a special teams standout who will also see time in the Bronco defensive backfield.

Senior Kyle Brotzman has done double duty as the starting kicker and punter for the Broncos. Brotzman is a great athlete that has a strong leg. Titus Young and Doug Martin will once again be back to return kickoffs. Young is electric and a threat to take the ball all the way while Martin can race through holes as well. Potter could be called upon to return punts.

As is the case with any big game, tonight's contest will depend upon play along the line of scrimmage, turnovers, penalties and injuries. This should be one of the great college football games of the regular season. Both teams are loaded with tremendous talent and led by high-quality respectable head coaches.

The summer hype is over. Let the game begin!


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