"When you play Virginia Tech, they're probably as challenging to prepare for as any team that you'll play throughout the course of the season. They're very good in all three phases. Certainly with Frank Beamer's reputation in special teams and the big plays that they've made over the course of many seasons, that means your preparation when you play Virginia Tech starts with being fundamentally sound and doing a good job in special teams.
"Defensively, they are a very stingy defense that can create big plays. They're very aggressive, so you've got to do an excellent job of making sure that your protections are sound, making sure that you the things we did last week that gave us a chance to win the game – protect the football and be fundamentally sound there.
"And then, offensively, they've undergone a little bit of a transition and a change, although we saw Tyrod Taylor a little bit last year with him playing almost exclusively as the quarterback near the end zone. He adds just an unbelievably dynamic element to their offense, very similar to the position specifics that they enjoyed with Michael Vick at quarterback – a young athlete that's got a very strong arm that can throw the football and create a lot of things with his legs. And in every game, I'm sure he's gaining more confidence.
"They've got some talented kids at wide receiver and they've got a big offensive line, so it's a game that for us, it's a great measuring stick to find out if we're making some progress as a football program and we'll find that out on Saturday."
Is having nine days to prepare as helpful as the bye week before the Rutgers game?
"Slightly so, although it wasn't as big of an advantage from a time standpoint, but it did give us an opportunity to enjoy the victory after the Rutgers game on Friday. We graded the film and showed it to the players, and put the Rutgers game behind us and [then] turned our attention to Virginia Tech on Saturday. We encouraged the players, although they had the day off, to go home and watch the Virginia Tech-Georgia Tech game on television, which I think that a high percentage of them probably did that. It gave our coaches a little bit more of an opportunity to work on Saturday.
"You hedge your bets a little bit, because you're always premature about making any final assessments about your game plan until your opponent plays their game that afternoon. I guess maybe the one advantage that we gained was a couple of hours on Sunday afternoon when we got the players together and had a chance to watch some film with them and start to introduce Virginia Tech's personnel and who they are – kind of a preliminary scouting report. So maybe a half-a-day advantage."
Is it beneficial that most of your players played in the tight game last season in Blacksburg?
"I actually don't know how much previous games from previous season impact [results]. Where I think that you gain a little bit in your program is that the longer you're at a place, and you continue to do the things that you're doing, there's some carryover value in that your players can learn from the successes and failures of previous years and it gives you those shared experiences that you can draw upon."
How do you decide how many touches a player like Brandon Tate gets?
"I think with all of your skill players, what you do is that you certainly game plan for an opportunity for every one of them. Not just Brandon or Hakeem [Nicks] or Brooks [Foster] and the tight ends and the running backs, you game plan for opportunities and you speculate how the other team – within their structure – how do they play and where opportunities might occur.
"But teams tinker and tweak with their schemes and their packages and they try to do certain things to take certain guys away, and then somebody that you thought would maybe be the second or third option, may all of a sudden explode and they may be the guy that gets more opportunities because the team is playing you a certain way. So as the program grows and we get fundamentally better and we start to develop explosive guys at all areas, that's kind of the way…
"When I was at Miami, we were very fortunate that when we went into a ball game, we could say, ‘Okay, if they're going to try to take away Reggie Wayne, then we need Andre Johnson or Santana Moss to have big games. If they're going to try to take away the passing game, then Edgerrin James or Clinton Portis needs to have a big game. Or if they're going to take the wideouts away, then the tights ends have got to have a big day, so throw it to Jeremy Shockey or any of those guys.'
"And hopefully that's the direction that we're headed. You don't just go into it and say, ‘Come hell or high water, we're getting this guy 20 touches,' if the scheme won't allow that."