NC State (0-0) vs. No. 8 Virginia Tech (0-0)
Sunday, September 4, 2005
7:15 pm Carter-Finley Stadium (57,500)
Virginia Tech Links
WR Justin Harper -- Foot Injury, PROBABLE
RB Mike Imoh -- Knee Injury, DEFINITE
Virginia Tech Scouting Report
School Colors: Maroon & Burnt Orange
Stadium: Lane (65,115)
Head Coach: Frank Beamer
Record at VT: 135-77-2 (19th year)
2004 Record: 10-3 (7-1)
2004 Bowl: Sugar vs. Auburn (L, 16-13)
Starters Returning: 14 (8 offense, 6 defense)
2005 Preseason Ranking: No. 8
PLAYERS TO WATCH
5 Marcus Vick, QB – For all the hype and accolades Vick is receiving, he still has not started a collegiate game. He saw action at quarterback in 2003, and even caught a touchdown pass as a receiver in the Insight Bowl against Cal, but this will be his first collegiate start after missing the entire 2004 season. For his career, Vick has two touchdown passes and five interceptions, but is regarded as a dangerous, dual-threat quarterback capable of making plays with his legs and his right arm.
|Marcus Vick will make his first career start at quarterback.|
4 Eddie Royal, WR – Looking for the x-factor in Sunday's game? It might be Royal. A dynamic player, the sophomore was outstanding on special teams last year against the Wolfpack and NC State will be looking to neutralize him this time around. Last year, Royal caught 28 passes for 480 yards and three scores. He also averaged 11 yards per punt return, returning 25 punts, and 25.8 yards on 12 kickoff returns.
55 Darryl Tapp, DE – Tapp is back and looking to repeat as a first-team All-ACC selection. Tapp, who has garnered preseason All-America honors, is a speedy rusher who goes full-speed all the time. Last year, he was tied for third on the team with 60 tackles, including 16.5 for loss and 8.5 sacks, as well as 23 quarterback hurries and two fumble recoveries.
2 Jimmy Williams, CB – Williams was a first-team All-ACC defensive back in 2004 and is regarded as the league's top returning defensive back.
|Jimmy Williams is the league's top defensive back.|
9 Vince Hall, ILB – Hall started the last 12 games at the middle linebacker position last year and finished second on the team in total tackles with 64, including 4.5 for loss and a sack. He also had a forced fumble, seven quarterback hurries and three pass break ups. A tenacious defender, Hall is known for his run-stuffing ability in the box.
11 Xavier Adibi, OLB - Adibi is the playmaker at the linebacker position, as he burst on the scene last year in the opener against Southern Cal. He finished the season with 25 total tackles, including 4.5 for loss and two sacks. He also had an interception, a forced fumble and two pass break ups.
46 Brandon Pace, PK - Pace is likely the top returning kicker in the ACC, as he was a Lou Groza semifinalist in 2004 and finished one point away from tying the single-season school scoring record for a kicker. He earned first-team All-ACC honors and has received several preseason accolades this year. Think Pace is ready to play the Wolfpack? His missed field goal in the final seconds sealed NC State's win in Blacksburg last year. For the season, the former walk-on was 21-for-27 on FGs and was also 43-for-44 on PATs.
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 use more of a spread offense this year given their quality depth at receiver, but the running game is what they want to establish.
Look for the Hokies to move quarterback Marcus Vick around to give him run-pass options, and don't be surprised if the playcalling is conservative in a hostile environment with Vick making his first career college start. The Hokies will take their chances deep when the opportunity is there, but they also want to get the tight ends and running backs involved in the passing game.
The key will be how their offensive line performs... last year they struggled against NC State's defensive front, yielding ten sacks.
Virginia Tech will load the box to stop the running game and put pressure on Wolfpack quarterback Jay Davis to make plays. Davis struggled last year against Bud Foster's defense, most notably the zone-blitz, and he will need to make plays for NC State to pick up the victory.
Virginia Tech will play a lot of four-man, four-linebacker coverage with a single safety, daring an offense to challenge them deep.
Look for NC State to try and establish the run against the Hokies while also challenging the three new starters in Virginia Tech's secondary.
COACH FRANK BEAMER
Frank Beamer (Virginia Tech '69), whose Tech teams have posted a 111-37 record over the past 12 seasons and appeared in bowl games each year during that span, is in his 19th year as the head football coach at Virginia Tech. Beamer has guided the Hokies to a 135-77-2 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 12 consecutive bowl appearances, an ACC title, 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.
RUSHING = OUTCOME?
• Under head coach Frank Beamer (214 games), the Hokies are 119-27-2 when outrushing their opponents, 15-50 when being outrushed and 1-0 when the rushing total is even.
• In Tech's current 12-year bowl run (since 1993), Tech is 99-12 when outrushing its opponents, 11-25 when being outrushed and 1-0 when the rushing total is even.
• In its current 12-year bowl run (since 1993), Tech is 74-6 when rushing for 200 yards or more, including 5-0 last year.
• Since 1999, the Hokies are 54-5 when outrushing their opponent and 4-12 when being outrushed.
NOTES FROM '04 CONTEST
• Tech's loss to NC State snapped a string of 27 consecutive wins during the month of September dating back to 1996.
• Virginia Tech's 192 yards of total offense was the lowest output by the Hokies since netting 185 yards against North Carolina in the 1998 Gator Bowl game, following the 1997 season.
• The 36 yards net rushing against the ‘Pack was Tech's lowest total since rushing for 15 yards at Pittsburgh in 2001.
• True freshman Eddie Royal (Herndon, Va.) returned three punts in the game for 107 yards. Royal had a long return of 58 yards.
WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN THE HOKIES HAVE THE BALL
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 in last year's win at Virginia Tech, but the key may have been defensive tackle John McCargo's presence in the trenches as he frequently dismantled the interior of the Hokie offensive line. Those three must do the same against the Hokies for NC State to have a chance tonight as priority #1 should be preventing Imoh and Humes from going off.
Also, keep an eye on Virginia Tech quarterback Marcus Vick. Vick is a dual-threat passer who can hurt a defense in a variety of ways, but he lacks game experience at the position and could be rusty. Vick missed all of the 2004 season and has yet to start a game at quarterback... more importantly, he hasn't been hit in nearly two years. NC State must keep Vick in the pocket and prevent the quarterback from having any huge runs on busted plays or quarterback draws. At some point, they may 'spy' Vick with a linebacker to make sure he doesn't break containment. The key will be if NC State can make Marcus Vick beat them through the air.
However, the most important factor will be the battle in the trenches, where the Wolfpack manhandled the Hokies in 2004. Virginia Tech's offensive line is huge, but rather inexperienced, with two players making their first college starts, left guard Brandon Gore and right tackle Duane Brown. NC State's front is known for its speed and athleticism, is experienced and is arguably the best in the country. Brown and Gore have tough tasks in front of them as they face Mario Williams and McCargo respectively, two of the top defensive linemen in the country. Can the Wolfpack use its quickness and confusing formations to dismantle the Tech offensive line again? 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.
WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN THE WOLFPACK HAS THE BALL
No one really knows at this point because of the new offensive philosophy being installed by offensive coordinator Marc Trestman. Trestman, known for running a west-coast offense, will have a talented group of players to work with, including redshirt senior quarterback Jay Davis. Davis struggled at times in 2004, but overall his season wasn't as bad as most people seem to imply. He needs a big play against Virginia Tech early to maintain his confidence, and that could come courtesy of the terrific skill players on the offensive side of the ball.
Davis has a good group of wide receivers led by Tramain Hall, a preseason All-ACC selection. Look for Davis to try and get the ball into his playmakers' hands so they can make plays. 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 with an outstanding group of tailbacks. Sophomore Darrell Blackman earned the starting nod, but expect to see as many as four tailbacks play against the Hokies. Virginia Tech is going to load the box with eight or nine defenders to try and stop the Wolfpack ground game in an effort to make Jay Davis beat them.
Can NC State's offensive line give Blackman, Bobby Washington, Toney Baker, and the other running backs holes to run through? That's a critical question for NC State's offense against the Hokies. The Wolfpack returns three players with starting experience along the offensive line, but like Virginia Tech, they will also have two lineman making their first career starts in senior Dwayne Herndon and sophomore Kalani Heppe. Tech's defensive line isn't as heralded as NC State's, but with All-American Darryl Tapp on the edge it is still a formidable front.
The Wolfpack has to get tight end T.J. Williams some touches. He is a match-up problem for defenders and should be a safety valve for Davis. It looks like the Wolfpack have made it a point to get Williams involved, as he has been the leading receiver through fall practice. The west-coast offense is based on short, accurate passing and having a tight end as talented as Williams is a major plus. Williams should be a major target against Virginia Tech.
Finally, NC State MUST stretch the field against the Hokies. The Hokies are starting three new players in the secondary, including both safeties. The Wolfpack can't be afraid to test a vulnerable secondary. NC State has several deep threats in Hall, Brian Clark, Sterling Hicks and possibly true freshman Geron James, so with Virginia Tech crowding the line of scrimmage the play-action pass could be successful.
NC State QB Jay Davis vs. Virginia Tech QB Marcus Vick: Both quarterbacks will probably be working under conservative gameplans given the type of defenses they are facing, but there will come a point when one of them will need to step up and make a big play. Which will do it more often and generally be more effective throughout the contest?
Virginia Tech Head Coach Frank Beamer
Hit up the Premium Chat: Not attending the game? Chat Live in the PackPride.com Premium Chat Room via the "Join Live Chat" Link. This service is available for premium subscribers and follow the game play-by-play with other Wolfpack fans!
Thanks to NC State and Virginia Tech Athletics for much of the information in this preview.