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PREVIEW: Wolfpack, Hokies Battle in Blacksburg

NC State heads to Virginia Tech for their first ACC game of the season. Game time is set for 12:00 Saturday, and the game will be televised on ESPN. <P> Premium Subscribers can chat Live in the <a href=http://insiders1.ezboard.com/fnorthcarolinastatefrm17>PackPride.com Premium Chat Room</a> via the "Join Live Chat" Link. <P>

Lane Stadium

NC State (1-1) vs. Virginia Tech (2-1)
Saturday, September 25, 2004
12:00 pm Lane Stadium (65,115)
Blacksburg, VA

Virginia Tech Links

Virginia Tech Official Site



Game Notes

Injury Report

NC State
Merci Falaise, OL -
knee sprain
Luke Lathan, C - MCL sprain

Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech Scouting Report

Bryan Randall will lead VT's offensive attack
3 Bryan Randall, QB – Randall has started the last 28 games for the Hokies, tying the school record for consecutive starts (Steve Casey). He sits second all-time at Tech in career total offense with 5,978 yards, just 128 yards away from establishing a new record. Randall is a dual-threat quarterback who is the key to Virginia Tech's offensive attack.

32 Cedric Humes, RB – Bruising tailback who got the starting nod against the Duke Blue Devils last week. Humes rushed for 74 yards on 16 carries and teams with Justin Hamilton to give the Hokies a solid rushing tandem.

4 Eddie Royal, WR – True freshman has been a spark plug for Virginia Tech at both wide receiver and as a specialist. He's a dynamic athlete who can score anytime he touches the football.

55 Darryl Tapp, DE – Tapp leads the ACC with 3.5 sacks and will have a challenge this weekend facing Derek Morris and Chris Colmer. The 6'1 255 pounder had 2.5 sacks against Duke and blocked a punt against Western Michigan.

2 Jimmy Williams, CB – First-year starter at cornerback after playing free safety last season. Williams will likely face NC State's deep threat, Richard Washington.

9 Vince Hall, ILB – First-year starter leads the Hokies with 22 tackles. Athletic defender who may be the team's best tackler.

Virginia Tech wants to establish the run. The Hokies will operate out of the I-back formation with two wide receivers and will mix in some option. Look for the Hokies to move quarterback Bryan Randall around to give him run-pass options. They will go deep on occasion, but also want to get the tight ends and running backs involved in the passing game. Huge offensive line could be the key to their success.

Virginia Tech will load the box to stop the running game. They'll play a lot of four-man, four-linebacker coverage with a single safety, daring an offense to challenge them deep. USC showed that the Hokies are vulnerable deep, thanks to three long scoring passes to running back/wide receiver Reggie Bush.

Tech football teams are 310-93-13 at Blacksburg, including a 2-0 record this season.

Frank Beamer (Virginia Tech '69), whose Tech teams have posted a 103-35 record over the past 12 seasons and appeared in bowl games each year during that span, is in his 18th year as the head football coach at Virginia Tech. Beamer has guided the Hokies to a 127-75-2 record. He became Tech's winningest football coach in 1997 when the Hokies defeated Arkansas State, 50-0.

Under Beamer, Tech football has enjoyed unprecedented success with 11 consecutive bowl appearances, three BIG EAST Conference titles and a trip to the national championship game. Tech won the BIG EAST title in 1999 and 1995 and shared it in '96. Beamer was voted BIG EAST Coach of the Year by the league's coaches each of those seasons.

In 1997, he was inducted into The Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame, and following the 1999 season, he earned eight national coach of the year honors.

Under head coach Frank Beamer (204 games), the Hokies are 113-27-2 when outrushing their opponents, 13-48 when being outrushed and 1-0 when the rushing total is even.

In Tech's current 11-year bowl run (since 1993), Tech is 93-9 when outrushing its opponents, 9-23 when being outrushed and 1-0 when the rushing total is even. Since 1999, the Hokies are 48-5 when outrushing their opponent and 2-10 when being outrushed.

• The Atlantic Coast Conference's top two teams in red zone offense will square off when Virginia Tech plays host to N.C. State.
• The Hokies and Wolfpack are tied for the conference lead with a 100 percent success rate in the red zone so far this season.
• Tech has scored on all 10 of its trips inside the red zone this season, scoring seven touchdowns and kicking three field goal.
• The Pack is 8-for-8 with six TDs and two field goals.
• Tech is also the top rated team in the ACC in red zone defense. The Hokies have held foes to a field goal in five trips inside their 20-yard line.

Game Analysis

Virginia Tech will try to establish the run behind their huge offensive line, likely looking to rush north-south against NC State's athletic defensive front. The Wolfpack defensive ends will need to get up the field and contain on the edges while the linebackers must fill gaps. Oliver Hoyte and Stephen Tulloch were dominant last weekend against Ohio State's I-formation rushing attack, and they must do the same against the Hokies for NC State to have a chance.

Also, keep an eye on Virginia Tech QB Bryan Randall. Randall's a dual-threat who can hurt a defense in a variety of ways, and he's very experienced. NC State must keep him in the pocket and prevent the quarterback from having any huge runs on busted plays or quarterback draws. At some point, they may 'spy' Randall with a linebacker to make sure he doesn't break containment. The key will be if NC State can make Virginia Tech's wide receivers and tight ends beat them.

However, the most important factor will be the battle in the trenches. Virginia Tech's offensive line averages 6'4 and 317 pounds across the board, while NC State's front is known for its speed and athleticism. Can the Wolfpack use its quickness and confusing formations to handle a strong, yet slow offensive line? Will Virginia Tech's o-line tire out the Wolfpack's defensive front and eventually be successful grinding it out on the ground? This could be the telling battle when Virginia Tech has the ball, and the winner in the trenches will likely win the football game.

No one really knows at this point. NC State quarterback Jay Davis struggled against Ohio State, but showed some promise late in the game when he led the Wolfpack on a two-minute scoring drive to pull them within a touchdown. Davis needs a big play against Virginia Tech early to gain confidence, and that could come courtesy of the terrific skill players on the offensive side of the ball. If anyone watched the Virginia Tech-USC game, they saw that Trojan RB/WR Reggie Bush was very successful catching the football out of the backfield. Look for NC State to utilize Tramain Hall in the same manner, sending him on 'go' routes out of the backfield matched up one-on-one with a linebacker. A huge play in the passing game will get Davis the confidence he needs.

NC State's going to try and establish the ground game behind junior T.A. McLendon. McLendon rushed for 94 yards in limited action against a stout Ohio State defensive front, and Virginia Tech's going to load the box with eight or nine defenders to try and stop the Wolfpack ground game. Can NC State's offensive line give McLendon, Blackman, and the other running backs holes to run through? That's a critical question for NC State's offense against Virginia Tech.

The Wolfpack has to get tight end T.J. Williams some touches. Against Ohio State they did so early with a nice tight end screen, but that was his only catch against the Buckeyes. Williams is a match-up problem for defenders and should be a safety valve for Davis. Look for NC State to move the quarterback around in the pocket and give him some run-pass options on roll outs. Williams should be a major target against Virginia Tech.

Finally, NC State MUST stretch the field against the Hokies. USC had success throwing deep, and the Wolfpack can't be afraid to test a vulnerable secondary. NC State has several deep threats in Hall, Richard Washington, and Brian Clark, so with Virginia Tech crowding the line of scrimmage the play-action pass should be successful.

NC State Special Teams vs. Virginia Tech Special Teams: Special teams will be critical in this game. Both programs have excelled blocking kicks throughout the years and a special teams touchdown may be the deciding factor. NC State must limit penalties, the foolish mistakes, and turnovers. If they do so, expect the Wolfpack to be in the game until the end with the Hokies.

Frank Beamer

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Thanks to NC State and Virginia Tech Athletics for much of the information in this preview.

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