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Virginia Tech Football: Five Burning Questions, Ohio State Edition

A look at some lingering issues heading into Tech's trip to face Ohio State.

Rob Carr

1. Can the Hokies handle the Horseshoe?

When Virginia Tech takes the field Saturday night it will be in front of the largest crowd in program history. Ohio State's official website lists the capacity of Ohio stadium at 104,944. They have an all-time record there of 373-104-20. It's a tough environment. The Hokies will be utilizing the video board and PA system in Lane Stadium this week to simulate crowd noise. Tech will have silent signals but the environment will certainly be a challenge, especially with the number of freshman that will see significant playing time.

2. How will JT Barrett fare against Bud Foster's defense?

Freshman quarterbacks don't traditionally do much against Bud Foster's lunch pail crew. This isn't your typical freshman though. After a redshirt season, the big, mobile quarterback is short on game experience but makes up for a lot of that with pure talent. As Frank Beamer mentioned recently, compared to Braxton Miller, "It's kind of the same guy." Tech will need to find a way to keep him in the pocket to avoid getting gouged by big QB runs (think Maryland last season). Gap discipline along the defensive line will be crucial.

3. Can Tech fix the goalline woes?

The Hokie offense was cruising in the opener, but when the unit was on the goalline things ground to a halt. I'm optimistically sticking to the idea that Tech was reluctant to show the team's best goalline plays in the opener. There were two fade routes to Bucky Hodges, but everyone has that play in the bag. Something tells me there are a number of passing plays utilizing the tight ends in close, not just the walking mismatch of Bucky lined up outside. Plus, J.C. Coleman won't be the lead back which means he won't be in on those situations anymore which was bizarre to start with. Look for more Marshawn Williams.

4. Will the Hokies avoid the big game special teams disasters?

There are plenty of examples over the years of Frank Beamer's prized unit making terrible plays in big games. We all remember Danny Coale's failed fake punt against Michigan or the litany of mistakes in the 2000 national championship game against Florida State. Tech simply can't allow any blocked kicks or big returns and expect to be within two touchdowns at the end of the game. On the other hand, if the Hokies could find a way to block one or get a big return, that's the kind of thing to make Ohio Stadium silent and tell the nation that Beamer Ball is back with a vengeance.

5. Is this a program turning point?

If the Hokies lose, no one will think twice nationally. It's what was supposed to happen. But if Tech can sneak out of Columbus with a win, the perception will start to swing back towards Virginia Tech being a program of note on the national stage. The past two seasons have hampered that image and put some tarnish on the impressive career of Frank Beamer. Beamer has never been known as a big game coach based on his poor record against top ten teams, but no one wants to change that more than him.