When: 10/2, Noon
Stadium: Lane Stadium
AP Rank: 6
Last Week: JMU
Returning Starters: 16
AP Rank: NR
Last Week: NC ST
Returning Starters: 10
Last Meeting: 2003
Common Opponents to Date: None
WVU - Erick Phillips (Knee) Out, Adam Lehnortt (Ankle) Probable, Jay Henry (Ankle) Probable
VT - Xavier Adibi (Bicep) Out, Jason Lallis (Shoulder) Questionable, D.J. Walton (Arm) Probable
WVU offense vs. VT defense
Virginia Tech's Bud Foster, in his 10th season as defensive coordinator, has his defense ranked 15th nationally, allowing only 58 points this season.
|WVU 4-0, 0-0
VT 2-2, 1-1
|Sat: 10/2 Noon|
|Series: WVU 28-20-1|
|Sagarin: WVU-26 VT-38|
|Line: VT -2|
|Stats & Trends|
Starting at the defensive tackle position in the Hokies' 4-3 defensive alignment will be Jim Davis (6-4, 265) and Jonathan Lewis (6-1, 289). Davis, who missed the 2003 season following surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle, has 11 tackles, with 4.5 of those for losses. Lewis, who had five tackles and a forced fumble in last year's contest with the Mountaineers, has 11 stops and is third on the team with four quarterback hurries.
Also seeing time at tackle will be Kevin Lewis (6-1, 282) and Carlton Powell (6-2, 285). Lewis, brother of Jonathan, and Powell have played in all four games, totaling 14 tackles and two quarterback hurries.
Noland Burchette (6-2, 251) and Darryl Tapp (6-1, 265) will man the defensive end positions. Burchette, a Richmond native, has racked up six tackles and three quarterback hurries this season. Tapp, the teams top sack producer with 3.5, is an explosive player that WVU offensive line coach Rick Trickett will need to watch. The team's most valuable defensive player of the spring has recorded 23 stops this season, 5.5 for a loss of yardage.
Playing in the defensive backfield for the Maroon and Orange will be the largest group of defensive backs WVU will face. Both cornerbacks are experienced and athletic. Eric Green (6-0, 198), a one-time WVU recruit, will play the field corner position. The redshirt senior has recorded 12 stops, one interception and three quarterback hurries. Opposite Green at the boundary corner will be Jimmy Williams (6-3, 219). The converted safety has had a productive season to date, totaling 14 tackles, one interception and a team-leading six pass break-ups.
Manning the safety and rover positions will be Vincent Fuller (6-1, 187) and James Griffin (6-1, 193), respectively. Fuller, a redshirt senior, returned to safety this season after spending much of his career at cornerback. The Baltimore, Md., native ranks third on the team with 20 tackles and leads the team with two interceptions. At the rover position, Griffin has racked up 19 tackles and one forced fumble. The Pasadena (Calif.) City College transfer recorded one tackle against the Mountaineers in 2003.
WVU is ranked 19th in total offense (450.75 yds/game), 9th in rushing offense (276.00 yds/game) and 86th in passing offense (174.75 yds/game).
Virginia Tech is ranked 15th in total defense (266.25 yds/game), 45th in rushing defense (115.75 yds/game) and 33rd in passing efficiency defense (105.51 rating).
WVU defense vs. VT offense
Virginia Tech offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring has taken some heat recently from the Hokie faithful after allowing 10 quarterback sacks against N.C. State in a 17-16 home loss. After his unit's dismal performance Stinespring quickly spread the blame over the entire offensive unit and not just the offensive line. Although they may not prove as formidable as the Wolfpack, the Mountaineers will try to exploit this pass protection problems that the Hokies had last week.
Despite being sacked 16 times this season, Hokie quarterback Bryan Randall (6-0, 228) has had a solid start to the 2004 campaign. The senior signal caller has connected on 52 of 99 passes, including five touchdowns and four interceptions. He is fourth all-time at Tech in career total offense with 5,259 yards, is also the team's second leading rusher with 147 yards on 50 attempts. Randle had has two sub-par performances the last two seasons against the Mountaineers, and hopes to have an interception-free game now that Brian King is no longer wearing blue and gold.
Leading the way for the Hokie ground game will be Mike Imoh (5-7, 197). After serving a three-game suspension for involvement in the Marcus Vick teenage female incident, the elusive tailback gained 82 yards on 14 attempts versus the Wolfpack. Teaming with Imoh will be Cedric Humes (6-1, 231) and Justin Hamilton (6-3, 222). Humes and Hamilton are bruising backs that have comined to gain 290 yards on 77 attempts, an average of 3.76 yards per carry.
Opening holes for the trio of tailbacks will be starting fullback John Kizner (6-2, 252). The redshirt freshman has not had the opportunity to run the ball this season but has caught five passes for 17 yards and two touchdowns. Look for the Hokies to go to Kizner on goal line situations.
The Virginia Tech receiving corps may be one of the youngest units in the country. The starting tandem, Eddie Royal (5-10, 172) and Josh Hyman (5-11, 188) are both first-year players. Throw in the next two receivers in the rotation and you have a total of four freshman receivers. Royal, the most dangerous of the Tech pass catchers, has hauled in six tosses for 133 yards and one touchdown, while Hyman has a team best 10 receptions for 198 yards and two touchdowns. The other freshman receivers include Justin Harper (6-3, 203) and John Morgan (6-1, 209). Harper and Morgan have combined for six receptions for 111 yards and one touchdown.
Another receiving threat used by the Hokies is tight end Jeff King (6-5, 263). King gives Randall a huge target with good pass catching abilities. The junior ranks second on the team with eight receptions, resulting in 123 yards. Look for Randall to go to King on second down and long situations.
The Virginia Tech offensive line is arguably one of the biggest in the country with the starters averaging 6' 5" and 317 pounds per man. At the center of this mammoth unit is Will Montgomery (6-3, 300). Montgomery, a starter at guard last season, moved over and to fill the shoes of departed All-American Jake Grove.
Manning the guard positions will be Reggie Butler (6-6, 344) and James Miller (6-6, 312). Butler, a versatile lineman, saw action in all 13 games last season. Used mainly as a spot starter for the Hokies over the past two seasons, Miller earned his position as right guard with a solid spring performance.
Anchoring the Hokie offensive line will be Jon Dunn (6-7, 331). Dunn, one of the most experienced linemen, has been a starter for the past two seasons. At the other tackle position is Jimmy Martin (6-5, 299), the only starting offensive lineman under 300 pounds. Martin, a junior, is the most athletic of the Hokie lineman and recorded 24 knockdown blocks a season ago.
By the numbers:
WVU is ranked 31st in total defense (298.75 yds/game), 50th in rushing defense (122.25 yds/game) and 36th in passing efficiency defense (106.60).
Virginia Tech is ranked 73rd in total offense (348.75 yds/game), 67th in rushing offense (145.50 yds/game) and 66th in passing offense (203.25 yds/game).
WVU special teams vs. VT special teams
Although year in and year out Virginia Tech has one of the top special teams in the country, the squad struggled last week against NC State. Hokie punter Vinnie Burns (5-11, 194) dropped a snap, resulting in a Wolfpack touchdown, and Brandon Pace (5-10, 191) missed two field goals including the potential game winner as time expired.
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Returning kickoffs and punts for Virginia Tech will be the dangerous combination of Royal and Imoh. Royal is ranked 20th nationally, averaging 14.17 yards per return including a long of 58 yards. Royal also teams with Imoh handling kickoff return duties. The pair have returned seven kicks for 149 yards, an average of 21.28 yards.
With the score predicted to be close, a big play on special teams could decide the winner of the Black Diamond Trophy. WVU has no doubt been working overtime on punt protection and getting kicks off quickly this week.
By the numbers:
WVU is ranked 54th in net punting (35.94 yds/punt), 23rd in kick returns (23.50 yds/return) and 9th in punt returns (17.80 yds/return).
Virginia Tech is ranked 37th in net punting (37.50 yds/punt), 52nd in kick returns (20.13 yds/return) and 24th in punt returns (13.33 yds/return)
Picks to Click:
On Offense: Miquelle Henderson
On Defense: Jason Hardee
* The Hokies have 71 Old Dominion natives on their roster.
* Virginia Tech is 4-6 since their 28-7 defeat in Morgantown last season.
* The Hokies have been to eleven straight bowl games (5-6). Only Nebraska (36), Michigan (28), Florida St. (22), Tennessee (15) and Florida (13) have longer streaks. Kansas State is tied with VT.
* Virginia Tech is 142-152-18 all-time versus ACC opponents.
* Last season was the first season since 1997 that the Hokies did not finish ranked in the AP Top 25.
Be sure to check out our Stats & Trends section for lots more match up information!
The 6th-ranked Gold and Blue enter this contest with several factors weighing against it. WVU is a two-point underdog to a unranked opponent, they are the recent whipping boy of the national media (including Mark "Furman is darn good" May), the BCS doesn't want them and the game will be played amidst 65000 rabid fans donned in hunter orange. All of these factors should make it easy for my colleagues at the Blue & Gold News to pick the Hokies to knock off the Mountaineers, but that's just not going to happen.
WVU has a secret weapon in its bag that you've probably never heard of. It's called the "Easton Press Pass" factor. When I am in the press box to watch West Virginia and cover the game, their record is an unblemished 7-0, including 4-0 on the road. In case you were wondering, I will, indeed, be in the press box this Saturday polishing the Black Diamond Trophy for its return trip to Morgantown.
WVU - 18 VT - 17