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2009 Virginia Tech Football: What to Watch vs. Nebraska

The Team

  • This game doesn't effect Virginia Tech's bid for an ACC title, but the team better be prepared for a physical match-up with a very good Husker team. Looking ahead to Miami won't be tolerated.
  • Last year the Hokies got off to a fast start thanks to special teams. Hopefully a positive play on special teams will set the tone this year as well.
  • There are two games this week where future Hokie opponents play each other. Set your DVRs for Georgia Tech at Miami, Thursday at 7:30 on ESPN and East Carolina at North Carolina, Saturday at Noon on ESPN2.

Virginia Tech Offense vs. Nebraska Defense

  • Like last year, the Hokies are going to have to find creative ways to get yards on the ground. Suh and Co. won't allow many yards between the tackles. Last year it was Tyrod Taylor who was able to break containment and run for 87 yards.
  • This year the Hokies have running backs who can do damage on the edge in Ryan Williams and David Wilson. Clark doesn't want us to forget about Josh Oglesby, but I'm not sure this is the kind of game where Oglesby can do damage. Instead, I think most of our yards will come from Taylor, Williams and Wilson going off tackle.
  • I'd like to see the Hokies run more QB option out of the shotgun in this game like they did against Marshall. Nebraska's linebackers are inexperienced and these plays would neutralize the effect Suh and Crick have on the game.
  • The trick will be what the Hokies do when faced with third and short. That's when the offensive line will have to earn its keep against Nebraska's powerful front four.
  • In the passing game, the Huskers have an improved secondary. Last year, Tech was able to get several big plays downfield and its receivers averaged 19 yards per catch. I don't see that happening again this year. The Husker secondary is faster and safety Larry Asante is going to want to have a big game in front of his friends and family this weekend.
  • I think the Hokies' tight ends can have a big day against Nebraska. As I said before, their linebackers are inexperienced and we have a good crop of tight ends. This may end up being how we convert on third and short.

Virginia Tech Defense vs. Nebraska Offense

  • Nebraska has two known commodities in its offense and I think they're both outstanding players: RB Roy Helu Jr. and TE Mike McNeill.
  • McNeill will be a challenge for Virginia Tech's pass defense. Last week, Marshall's receivers and TE Cody Slate were able to find holes in our zone, but were rarely able to take advantage due to pressure on QB Brian Anderson or dropped balls. The same will not happen this week.
  • Last year, McNeill put the Huskers on the board in the first quarter with a 32-yard touchdown grab. He finished the night with three catches for 66 yards. I think he'll be equally effective against Jake Johnson, who has struggled with pass coverage through two games.
  • Helu was Nebraska's most effective runner in last year's game, averaging 5.3 yards per carry. Although he was given the ball only four teams, he was the Huskers' leading rusher with 21 yards. This year, it's his show. Marlon Lucky and Quintin Castille are no longer with the program for various reasons and on Saturday, Hokie fans will find out just how good Helu is.
  • He's better than Darius Marshall and not as good as Mark Ingram. If Nebraska wins on Saturday, it will be becaue Helu had a big impact on the game. Tech will need a better outing from its defensive tackles than it got in the first two games to stop Helu.
  • The key for the Hokies will be forcing Nebraska into passing down and then getting pressure on QB Zac Lee. Lee has been solid in his first two college games, but has yet to be tested. The Hokies were able to get pressure on Anderson and Alabama's Greg McElroy. I think they'll be able to do the same against Lee. The question will be how he handles the pressure and can he avoid mistakes.
  • Personally, I think we'll be able to force turnovers if we can get to Lee.


  • All things being equal, I'll take the Hokies at home. Break out the Rolaids for this one. If it comes down to special teams, both kickers are solid. This one won't be as high scoring as last year's contest, but will be just as close.

Watch the Box Score For:

  • Turnovers
  • Virginia Tech Sacks/QB Hurries
  • Roy Helu YPC
  • Special Teams Points

Virginia Tech Players to Watch:

  • 5 - Tyrod Taylor, Jr., QB
  • 34 - Ryan Williams, Fr., RB
  • 6 - Jason Worilds, Jr., DE
  • 36 - Jake Johnson, So., LB

Nebraska Players to Watch:

  • 10 - Roy Helu Jr., Jr., RB
  • 44 - Mike McNeill, Jr., TE
  • 93 - Ndamukong Suh, Sr., DT
  • 4 - Larry Asante, Sr., S

Final Score

Virginia Tech 24, Nebraska 23