No rest for the defense with Tech on deck By Joseph Gravellese Virginia Tech's dynamic offensive duo of Tyrod Taylor and Ryan Williams have powered the Hokies to a 4-1 record, a top-5 ranking, and wins over Nebraska and Miami. At Boston College's weekly player press luncheon, the Eagles focused on the need to contain the Hokies' explosive threats.
"The last few weeks have all been big time, but these guys [Taylor and Williams], they really are big time players," said linebacker Mike McLaughlin. "With one snap, they can take it 89 yards and score a touchdown. You have to make sure you're doing your job, filling the gaps."
"With those guys, right when you turn on the tape, you can just see the speed and quickness," he continued. "They can kill you with one play."
The linebacker corps, which had a strong game against Florida State, knows they will be burdened with the responsibility of keeping Taylor in check.
"You don't want to change your whole scheme, but you have to [keep an eye on Taylor]," said McLaughlin. "When you rush him, you try your best to keep him in front of you. When you blitz, you can't run past him, and allow lanes. Once he sees that… he'll rely on his legs and run the ball."
"You have to try to keep him in the pocket," he continued.
"Everyone's got to look out for him," said Luke Kuechly, coming off a monster game in which he bolstered his status as the team's leading tackler, with 45 tackles this season, including 30 solo tackles. "It can't just be one person containing."
"We prepare for all teams the same way – we go out there every week and work hard, on the field and in the film room," he said. "It's generally the same each week… but the added thing [against Virginia Tech] is that [Taylor] is very athletic and can change the whole game with one play."
Kuechly Draws Praise
Luke Kuechly was everywhere against Florida State, and his teammates are already pointing out his potential to be a star player for BC.
"Kuechly's really bought into the BC mentality right away," said Matt Tennant. "He's really coming along."
McLaughlin was even more explicit with his praise.
"He's got All-American potential," he said. "He's going to be one of the best to ever play here. I really believe that. As long as he puts in the work, which he's proven that he's going to do."
"He asks a ton of questions in practice. His drive and motivation is there. Once Coach McGovern gets a hold of him for a few more years, he'll be one of the best to play here as a linebacker."
When asked what about Kuechly makes him a special linebacker, McLaughlin pointed to the freshman's instincts.
"Kind of like Brian Toal, he's got raw instinct. [He] can sniff out the ball and go get it… The kid just reads. It's not like he's physically manhandling people, but he sees the ball and goes and gets it. It's simple to him. That's the scary thing, to see what he's doing just off raw ability."
Kuechly is taken aback by his early success; before a rash of injuries ravaged the linebacker corps before the season, he had expected to redshirt.
"I thought I was going to come in, get redshirted, and work hard to get ready for next season," Kuechly said. "But some things popped up… and I had to switch my role a little bit."
Last Saturday was Kuechly's first game at outside linebacker, a transition he appeared to make quickly and successfully.
"I'm still progressing [at outside linebacker]," he said. "It's a different perspective, the angles are different… I feel more comfortable inside, as it's where I've been more often, but as the weeks go on I'll get more and more comfortable outside."
Road Test For Shinskie, Harris And The Offense
After a disastrous performance against Clemson, David Shinskie, Montel Harris, and the BC offense bounced back with two solid efforts against Wake Forest and Florida State. But they know they still need to find success on the road.
"They'll play us the way they did last year," said Tennant, referring to the ACC Championship Game in which quarterback Dominique Davis was ineffective, allowing Virginia Tech to lock down BC's rushing attack. "They'll put eight in the box, and make it difficult to run the ball."
"We've got a good game plan, we'll try to run it early, then mix it up with Dave throwing the ball," he said.
As for the offensive line, Tennant said they continue to make progress working on Spaziani's scheme.
"Our first trip to Clemson wasn't a great time for any of us," he said. "The Wake game, we got a little more confidence in ourselves to run the scheme successfully. We're excited going into this game. We know what Virginia Tech can do, but we've had success in the past and hope to keep it up."
Saturday will mark BC's fifth matchup with Virginia Tech since 2007.
"We beat them in the regular season, but they continue to win in the championship game," said Tennant. "Maybe we'll have to switch that up. Or just win both."
While Tennant said it's an important rivalry to the team, he downplayed the idea that it's a ‘grudge match' after two ACC title game losses.
"It's not really a grudge match. We respect that team."
"Like coach Spaziani said in our team meeting on Tuesday, anything in the ACC that has to do with winning the ACC championship goes through Blacksburg, because they've proved that they're the best in the ACC and they've earned that right," said McLaughlin.
"They've got a great coaching staff and big time players… when you're playing them in big games, it means you're doing something right."
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