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2010 Virginia Tech Football: What to Watch at Boston College

The Team

  • This is the first true road game for a lot of players, especially on defense. I'm interested to see how they'll react to unfamiliar surroundings and a hostile crowd.
  • With Ryan Williams out, look to see how the offensive line rallies around David Wilson, Darren Evans and Tyrod Taylor. I wonder if they feel extra pressure on them now that Williams is out and will fold or if they'll rise to the occasion like they did in the second half against and admittedly weak ECU defense.

Virginia Tech Offense vs. Boston College Defense

  • When you watch the Eagles play defense, they're going to look a lot like how the Hokies play defense. They play a very similar cover-two scheme to the one used by Bud Foster.
  • While the Eagle defensive line isn't nearly as hulking as we saw two years ago with B.J. Raji and Ron Brace, it's still very stout. Defensive end Alex Albright will be a big test for Tech's tackles. If they can't handle Albright, we're going to be in for a long game.
  • The Hokies have had a 100-yard rusher in each of their last three meetings against BC, but the last time they traveled to Chestnut Hill it had to be Tyrod Taylor picking up the slack for an offensive line that was still finding its identity. He scrambled for 110 yards that night and I have a feeling he might be required to do the same Saturday.
  • With the return of Mark Herzlich to outside linebacker, Luke Kuechly has been shifted to middle linebacker. He's helped make BC's run defense dominant as it gave up less than two yards per carry against Weber State and Kent State.
  • The Eagles will probably try to load the box against the Hokies to shut down the run game. If this happens, Tyrod will obviously have to have a big game with his legs, but there are also a few way the Hokies will be able to take advantage of the Eagles defense.
  • In BC's cover-two scheme, its cornerbacks, DeLeon Gause and Donnie Fletcher play off the line of scrimmage in soft coverage. The screen passes Tech runs could be effective against the BC secondary, especially with the speedy Dyrell Roberts. Gause and Fletcher aren't extremely physical corners, but can definitely play pass coverage.
  • Herzlich, Kuechly and BC's other linebacker, freshman Kevin Pierre-Louis, are all solid against the run. However, Pierre-Louis can be a liability in pass coverage. He plays on the weakside of the field, so look for Tech to try and create mismatches in coverage by motioning David Wilson out of the backfield.
  • The keys to the passing game will be finding the holes in BC's cover-two. The middle passing game, something we have not seen the Hokies utilize almost this whole season, could be a big weapon for the Hokies if they can get it done. If we run up the middle and throw nothing but down-field, long-developing routes, we are playing right into the strength of BC's defense.
  • The last time the Hokies played at BC they were atrocious on third down, especially on third and short. It's imperative we convert on third down in this game to sustain drives and keep the defense on the sideline. The more they have to go against BC's big offensive front, the better BC's offense will be late in the game.
Virginia Tech Defense vs. Boston College Offense
  • Like the BC defense, a lot of what you see from the BC offense will look familiar. However, they will run a lot of pro-form, off-set I formations, something we don't usually see out of the Hokies.
  • The Eagles will try to get Montel Harris the ball as much as they can. He's their best offensive player and a solid pass-catcher out of the backfield.
  • As a running back, Harris is great at finding holes, but will still dance in the backfield from time to time. The key for Tech will be filling the running lanes and making Harris get happy feet in the backfield. He's very dangerous as a downhill runner, so we need to get him to bounce to the outside and get solid tackling from the guys close to the sideline.
  • Harris isn't a small quarkback like Jaquizz Rodgers at Oregon State, but isn't a big bruising back either. He's small enough to get lost behind BC's huge offensive line, but big enough to break tackles and get going downhill quickly when he gets past the line of scrimmage.
  • Something you'll see from BC that you also don't see a lot from Tech is a true draw play. The offensive line will block like it's a pass play and the quarterback will then hand off quickly to the running back after backing up from the line like he's looking for a receiver.
  • It's a play that has been effective for the Eagles and it will be interesting to see how good our young linebackers will be at play recognition.
  • The Eagles will start 26-year old Dave Shinskie at quarterback. The former baseball player and sophomore is still adjusting to life as a college quarterback. He isn't terribly accurate and has made his share of questionable decisions when pressured.
  • What I've noticed from both Shinskie and BC's other quarterback, Mike Marscovetra, is that they're not terribly affected by the threat of an outside rush. They have little reason to be with two tackles like Anthony Castonzo and Rich Lapham protecting them. Even when guys get by Castonzo on the blind side, they still have the confidence in him to block the end and keep them upright.
  • What does rattle them is inside pressure. Neither Shinskie nor Marscovetra are very mobile, so the Hokies need to get inside pressure from them to get them out of the pocket and force them to make throws on the run and force mistakes.
  • It will be important for defensive tackles John Graves and Antoine Hopkins to get that pressure up the middle. If they can't, the Hokies will probably bring blitz packages similar to the ones we saw against ECU, trying to get Bruce Taylor and Lyndell Gibson to Shinskie and/or Marscovetra.
  • Watch the Hokies defense as the game wears on. We have smaller defensive linemen this year and not much depth. The D-line is going to be going up against a hulking O-line that will wear them down if we allow them to sustain drives. We need key three-and-outs in this game to keep the guys up front from getting tired.
  • The Eagles lost their top receiver from last season, Colin Larmond, prior to the season due to a torn ACL. However, freshman Jonathan Coleman has been impressive in BC's first two games and will probably make his first start Saturday against Tech. Coleman and Ifeanyi Momah are both big receivers who can do damage when they get open. Momah has not had a catch in the teams' last two meetings, but did have three catches for 57 yards, including a touchdown, when the teams last met in Chestnut Hill.
  • Keep an eye on Coleman, who has emerged as Shinskie's top target and one of the few BC receivers who can beat secondaries down field.
Watch the Box Score
  • BC Yards Per Carry
  • VT 3rd Down %
  • Tyrod Taylor Rush Yards
  • Turnovers
Virginia Tech Players to Watch
  • 5 - Tyrod Taylor, Sr., QB
  • 4 - David Wilson, So., RB
  • 51 - Bruce Taylor, So., LB
  • 56 - Antoine Hopkins, So., DT
Boston College Players to Watch
  • 2 - Montel Harris, Jr., RB
  • 80 - Jonathan Coleman, Fr., WR
  • 94 - Mark Herzlich, Sr., LB
  • 9 - DeLeon Gause, Sr., CB
Final Score

Virginia Tech 23, Boston College 20