The Hokies are facing an extremely tough opponent this week in Florida State. Here to answer some questions we have about the Seminoles is Bud Elliot from SB Nation's FSU site Tomahawk Nation. Look for my answers to his questions later on his blog.
GC: I realize you could write a book on this, but give us the CliffsNotes version of the differences between the Noles under Jimbo Fisher and Bobby Bowden.
TN: Wow. Where to start. Essentially, Bowden was operating the program like something out of 1995, hired many of his buddies/ family members who were either unqualified to coach or washed up, and generally had the energy level of someone who is 80. Fisher was 5th in command (unbelievable), asked for many important changes, had them denied, but kept them in mind. When he became head coach, FSU got an offensive-minded Saban clone with a bit more media charm. New weight program. Finally getting a nutrition program. Much more focus on family. Hiring competent coaches that relate well with young kids. Demanding long hours from those coaches (Fisher sleeps in his office sometimes). Mental conditioning, etc. And crushing recruiting at a level the ACC has never seen.
Christian Ponder re-injured his elbow in the game against Florida. Obviously he's not going to miss this game this weekend, but how much do you think the injury will effect him on Saturday?
We don't. He's definitely not 100%, but has not been for weeks. I honestly don't have an answer here. It will depend on how it feels Saturday.
When FSU's on defense, it will be strength against strength with the Tech run game against your rush defense. How do you think the Noles match up against the Hokies' run game?
I actually think FSU's pass defense is better than its run defense. You have to remember all the sacks are included in the NCAA's "run defense" statistic. FSU's defensive line has really hit a wall in the second half of this year. They are extremely young (SR, 4 SO, 3 FR) and just haven't played this number of snaps before. I think FSU will have to play 8 in the box against the Hokies. SS Nick Moody (232 lbs) is a hammer of a safety who is quite good against the run. If FSU cannot beat it with 7 it will have to stop it with 8 and force Tyrod to the air.
On the flip side, FSU has a very talented receiving corps that will be going against a secondary that leads the ACC in interceptions and opponents' passer rating. What should we watch for when the Seminoles take to the air?
FSU is a passing attack that will exploit short, intermediate, and deep routes. The 'Noles take what is given. Often teams give the mid-range stuff because a lot of college QBs cannot throw them. Ponder can and sometimes teams take a bit to adjust. FSU will go 2, 3, or 4 wide from a bunch of different formations.
The best way to play this FSU passing attack is to rush 4 and drop 7. Ponder is an NFL QB and it is doubtful that VT or any other team has blitzes he has not seen. On the other hand, FSU has some receivers who are young and don't always do a great job of running precise routes, particularly if they get bumped around. Attack the receivers and don't give Ponder 1-on-1s to exploit. Hit the receivers after they catch the ball and they might fumble.
Give us one thing you think will lead to certain victory for the Noles and one thing that will lead to certain defeat.
Certain victory: If Virginia Tech gets down early and abandons the run.
Certain defeat: If Virginia Tech gets some big plays from Tyrod's legs and stays patient with the run.