2010 Virginia Tech Football: What to Watch in the ACC Championship Game vs. Florida State

Virginia Tech Hokies (10-2, 8-0) vs. Florida State Seminoles (9-3, 6-2)

The Team

  • I'm interested to see what kind of crowd is at this game. All we've heard leading up is that tickets are scarce and that we're approaching a sellout. I want to see if the stands are really full and how many Hokies are there. Hopefully it will feel like a home game since we're closer to Charlotte and had a full week longer than the Seminoles had to buy tickets.
  • Will we fear the spear? It seems like we usually play tight against this team and that can't happen. We have to play fast and with confidence, not like we did against Boise State.
  • Is this the game we finally come out at full speed and have a good start to the game? Is this the game that we start slow and it finally comes back to bite us? Or will this game follow the same script so many have this year and the Hokies fall behind early and have to stage another dramatic comeback?
  • Turnovers will decide this game. We've been very good at protecting the football this year and that has to continue.
  • As always, a lot of these stats come from cfbstats.com.

Virginia Tech Offense vs. Florida State Defense

  • Bud from Tomahawk Nation said in the Q&A that he thinks the Florida State defensive line has hit a wall because of their youth. I hope that's the case and the Hokies are able to get their ground game going.
  • In conference games, the Noles have allowed 3.5 yards per carry, which is fourth in the conference. While they've given up nearly a yard more per carry than their average in the last three games against Clemson, Maryland and Florida, they've only allowed one rushing touchdown in those three games.
  • I think this is a game where David Wilson could have a big game. We need his speed to counter FSU's. The Seminole linebackers are big, strong and fast and Wilson's speed may be able to counteract that.
  • A big part of Virginia Tech's offense will have to Tyrod Taylor's running ability. The Noles are going to sell out to stop the run and that means we could see a lot of third-and-longs, especially early. We'll need Tyrod to be able to convert in those situations. Mobile quarterbacks like NC State's Russell Wilson and Florida's Jordan Reed have seen some success against this defense.
  • Third downs will be important for both teams and FSU was 5th in the ACC in conference games, allowing opponents to convert 36.5 percent of third downs.
  • In the passing game, we'll likely see a lot of man coverage from the Seminoles. Tyrod usually likes throwing against man coverage, but our receiving corps has been so banged up that it might be hard for guys like Jarrett Boykin and Danny Coale to get open. (I stand corrected. Apparently the Noles are playing more zone coverage this year under Mark Stoops.) Someone I'd like to see have a good game is Andre Smith, who hasn't been utilized as much down the stretch as his was midway through the season. If the receivers are struggling, Smith needs to step up and play well.
  • I'd like to see more zone-read option in this game. We've gone away from it after we saw it in October. We also need to see more draws and screens to keep Florida State's defense honest.
  • While it would be tempting to throw against Florida State's young secondary, we can't let Florida State dictate our offensive game plan. We need to get the ground game going and let it start picking up big chunks of yards in the second half, just like we did against Miami.
  • It will interesting to see what happens when Tech gets into the red zone. The Hokies lead the ACC in conference games, scoring touchdowns on 64.1 percent of red zone possessions. Meanwhile, FSU was second in the ACC in conference games in RZ TDs allowed at 35.7 percent.

Virginia Tech Defense vs. Florida State Offense

  • Bud pointed this out yesterday that the FSU offense is battle-tested. Boy are they ever. Look at the defenses they've faced: Oklahoma, Miami, BC, NC State, UNC, Clemson, Maryland, Florida. According to FEI, all of those defenses rank in the Top 30 in efficiency. Now, they'll face Virginia Tech's defense, which is No. 9 in defensive FEI.
  • According to the offensive FEI rankings, this will be the best offense the Hokies have faced this year, even better than Boise State's. The strength of FSU's offense is its O-line, especially the left side with Rodney Hudson and Andrew Datko.
  • FSU's run game has been very good throughout the year, due in large part to that O-line. However, they're banged up. Jermaine Thomas will miss the game with a knee injury and Ty Jones will probably be a game-time decision. That will leave the bulk of the carries to sophomore speedster Chris Thompson. Thompson is a smaller back with a lot of speed, meaning tackling will be important for the Hokies.
  • Tackling will also be important in the secondary. As we've seen a lot from FSU over the years, they like to run tunnel screens to their speedy wide receivers who can get big gains if guys can't wrap up. The Noles are again loaded at receiver with the speedy Bert Reed and Taiwan Easterling and the bigger Rodney Smith and Willie Haulstead.
  • Another guy to watch in the passing game is tight end Beau Reliford. He's a big target and will create a lot of mismatches in the middle of the field, especially when the Hokies utilize their nickel package. He could be a game-changer, especially on third down for FSU.
  • Formation wise, you'll see just about everything from FSU: The pistol, shotgun spread, I-form and pro-set. When you have a good, experience QB like Christian Ponder, you can run just about anything.
  • Watch Ponder to see if elbow is bothering him. He ruptured the bursa sac in his right elbow against Boston College and he's been wearing a sleeve over his throwing arm.
  • The key, as always, is to get pressure on the quarterback. Ponder's worse game came against Oklahoma when the Sooners forced Ponder to get rid of the ball quickly and let their secondary do the rest.
  • A good matchup will come when FSU faces third down. The Noles led the ACC in 3rd down conversions during conference play, converting 49.6 percent. The Hokies' defense was the ACC's toughest at stopping conference opponents on third down at 31.0 percent.

Watch the Box Score

  • Turnovers
  • Virginia Tech Yards Per Carry
  • Florida State 3rd Down Pct
  • Red Zone Touchdowns

Virginia Tech Players to Watch

Florida State Players to Watch

  • 7 - Christian Ponder, Sr., QB
  • 62 - Rodney Hudson, Sr., OG
  • 49 - Brandon Jenkins, So., DE
  • 10 - Nick Moody, So., FS

Final Score

Virginia Tech 30, Florida State 29

SB Nation Featured Video
X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Gobbler Country

You must be a member of Gobbler Country to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Gobbler Country. You should read them.

Join Gobbler Country

You must be a member of Gobbler Country to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Gobbler Country. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9347_tracker