1. Can Tech's freshmen receivers repeat their performance from last week?
Isaiah Ford has been a revelation since he was named a co-starter in week one, but Cam Phillips has taken a little longer to rise to the forefront. Now that Josh Stanford is taking a leave of absence to sort through some things, the youth in the receiving corps is even more pronounced.
#Hokies announce WR Josh Stanford will take a leave of absence from the team "to take care of some personal issues."— Hokies Journal (@HokiesJournal) September 16, 2014
The good news is there's plenty of talent at the position. Phillips led Tech Saturday with seven catches for 89 yards and a touchdown while Ford was right there with him tallying seven catches for 77 yards and two touchdowns. Between them, they scored all of Tech's points in a failed comeback bid. Look for an increased role for the speedy redshirt freshman Deon Newsome as well.
2. Can the Hokies overcome the suddenly mounting injuries?
The biggest concern is along the defensive line. Defensive tackle Corey Marshall didn't play against East Carolina and fellow DT Luther Maddy was banged up in that game. It's unclear is either will be available against the Yellow Jackets.
No real update from Beamer on Luther Maddy (knee) & Corey Marshall (ankle). Said they're "both positive about it." Not sure what that means.— Andy Bitter (@AndyBitterVT) September 17, 2014
Frank Beamer says Dewayne Alford could see some time at tackle if neither Marshall or Maddy can go Saturday. Additionally, tight end Ryan Malleck is battling knee and ankle issues while fellow tight end Kalvin Cline has yet to play a down for the Hokies this season due to lingering injuries. It may be a patchwork lineup this week for Tech at key positions.
3. Seriously, can Michael Brewer stay upright?
This week it wasn't his fault. Brewer got hit time and time again in the pocket and was slow to get up a number times. He actually made a smart play on a scramble for a few yards when he slid instead of taking a big hit like he did often against Ohio State. The concern is the offensive line. They really struggled to block a very athletic Pirates' defensive line and Brewer took three sacks in the face of a constant pass rush. Tech has to protect better when the defense takes away the quick passes the Hokies used so effectively in the first two games.
4. Can Bud Foster's defense stay disciplined against the Jackets?
Not many of the Hokie defenders who will be heavily featured Saturday have significant experience against Georgia Tech's option. Kyle Fuller had an amazing game against the Jackets last season, but he's picking off passes for the Chicago Bears now. I wouldn't be surprised to see Kendall Fuller slide over and try to play a similar style of D, acting as a spy on the option. The threat of the pass is still there and Brandon Facyson still isn't 100% so that would leave new starting corner Donovan Riley alone on the outside. It will be interesting to see what Bud dials up for this one.
5. Is this the most important game of the year?
It feels like we're asking this every week now, which really echoes coach Beamer's philosophy of playing the game in front of you. We all know by now the history of this series in terms of winning the ACC's Coastal Division so it has some added juice. Despite the loss last week, the Hokies are basically right where they were expected to be at this point in the season; 2-1 and ready for the ACC slate. Virginia Tech's goals are still in front of them in a wide open division, they just have to finish.