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2011 Virginia Tech Football: What to Watch vs. UVa

Virginia Tech Hokies (10-1, 6-1) at Virginia Cavaliers (8-3, 5-2)

I'm going to make this quick before the tryptophan kicks in.

Some other previews to check out: The Key PlayFrom Old Virginia and Streaking the Lawn. TKP thinks this will come down to our ability to run the ball and pressure the QB. FOV says the team whose QB makes the least mistakes will win. STF says the Hoos the team that's most effective running the ball will come out on top.

They're all right. Both of these teams are going to try and establish their ground game and for UVa, that also includes utilizing their running backs out of the backfield. The team that is able to get the other off schedule, into obvious passing downs and then pressure the other QB into mistakes will be the one that takes this game. There's a chance it could be Puntsgiving.

Turnovers and red zone conversions will determine this one. Virginia Tech has been slightly better at getting into the end zone in the red zone than UVa in ACC play, but UVa has been much better at keeping opponents out of the end zone in ACC play.

Virginia Tech Offense vs. Virginia Defense

  • Virginia's defensive front isn't quite as large or talented as North Carolina's. The UVa front four is an average of nearly 20 pounds lighter than UNC's and the front seven averages a little over 10 pounds lighter. Hopefully Tech will be able to average more than the 3.6 ypc it had in its last game against the Heels. If Tech can average over its season-long average of 4.7 ypc, it will be in good shape.
  • UVa likes to blitz on third down, so it will be up to Logan Thomas to be smart with the ball and not turn it over. I'd like to see Tech run more screens and take advantage of the vacated middle of the field on these downs.
  • I think there's a chance of Danny Coale to have a good game against UVa. Chase Minnifield is a solid cornerback, but again the middle of the field has been a spot where opposing offenses have been able to take advantage.
  • Third downs are again going to be big for the Hokies. They need to get into manageable third downs where we can again utilize Thomas' size in the run game to pick up first downs in short yardage.

Virginia Tech Defense vs. Virginia Offense

  • UVa has two good running backs in Perry Jones and Kevin Parks. Jones has been much better in conference than Parks, averaging 5.6 ypc to Parks' 4.7. Jones is also the bigger threat in the passing game, with three catches per game for 10.8 yards per catch in ACC play.
  • A big key for the Hokies will be the ability of their defensive tackles to use their quickness to disrupt up the middle and force the two UVa running backs to bounce to the outside.
  • Tackling is also going to be huge for the Hokies, especially from the secondary. Yards after contact by the backs and yards after catch for the Wahoo wide outs will be big. Kris Burd is a player who can do a lot of damage after the catch.
  • UVa is 6-1 in its last seven games and in that time Michael Rocco has thrown 10 TDs and 2 INTs. While the run game is important to UVa, Rocco's ability to manage the game and not make mistakes has been a big reason for its success. Tech needs to force him to make mistakes in this game.

Watch the Box Score

  • Virginia Tech YPC
  • Virginia Tech Sacks Allowed
  • Virginia Red Zone Efficiency
  • Turnovers

Virginia Tech Players to Watch

  • 4 - David Wilson, Jr., RB
  • 19 - Danny Coale, Sr., WR
  • 92 - Luther Maddy, Fr., DT
  • 17 - Kyle Fuller, So., CB

Virginia Players to Watch

  • 16 - Michael Rocco, So., QB
  • 18 - Kris Burd, Sr., WR
  • 56 - Cam Johnson, Sr., DE
  • 4 - Rodney McLeod, Sr., SS

Final Score

Virginia Tech 20, Virginia 16