College Football Preview: Virginia Tech vs. Arkansas State
BLACKSBURG, Va. ó Here comes another stop-us-if-you-can offense for Virginia Tech.
Then again, it might not matter how good Arkansas State is against the 13th-ranked Hokies, who already have beaten two other non-BCS teams with high-powered offenses.
Virginia Tech (2-0) has limited Appalachian State and East Carolina to 202.5 yards per game, and many of those came against the Hokies’ reserves. The Red Wolves (1-1) will enter Lane Stadium on Saturday averaging 480 yards.
Linebacker Bruce Taylor and his teammates, who play at Marshall next weekend before taking on their first major conference school when Clemson visits Oct. 1, look forward to being stingy again.
“When you come in and shut down a team that has such a high-powered offense, like an ECU and an App State, it makes it feel that much better when you go out and everybody thinks they’re gonna do this, thinks they’re gonna do that, run all over you, pass all over you and you come out and shut them down, that makes a statement,” said Taylor, who is tied for the team lead with 11 tackles.
Taylor said a shutout or two would only magnify the good feeling.
The Hokies might have had one against the Mountaineers in their opener, but the reserves came in after the first team allowed just 61 first-half yards.
Cornerback Cris Hill says Arkansas State’s spread looks like a combination of what Tech’s first two opponents ran, and the resurgent defense will have to assert itself once again.
“They’re pretty athletic. They’ve got a dynamic, big-time wide receiver, they’re averaging over 300 yards passing,” Hill said, speaking of 6-foot-3, 215-pound Josh Jarobe, who has 12 catches for 220 yards and two touchdowns. “We’re going to have our hands full this week.”
The teams have met three times previously, but not since 2002, and coach Frank Beamer said Arkansas State is a much improved program since Virginia Tech’s 63-7 victory in that one.
To keep his team from taking the Red Wolves lightly, Beamer said he showed his players tape of Arkansas State’s 33-15 loss to Illinois in the season opener. Two of the Fighting Illini’s touchdowns came on big plays, and Wolves quarterback Ryan Aplin threw for 290 yards.
The turnaround really got started last season when Hugh Freeze took over as the Red Wolves’ offensive coordinator. He was elevated to head coach this season, and his team has accounted for at least 300 yards of offense for 14 consecutive games. It had 350 in the loss to Illinois.
Freeze expects yards to be much harder to come by for his offense this week.
“They have tremendous speed, which allows them to get pressure with their front four,” Freeze said of the Virginia Tech defense, ranked eighth nationally. He also lauded Taylor and the secondary for their coverage and hitting skills.
“It’s going to be a very large challenge for our offense,” he said.
The Hokies offense has some work to do. It managed 332 yards in the 17-10 victory against East Carolina last week, and that came just a week after the Pirates allowed 56 points to South Carolina. Virginia Tech also was whistled for 12 penalties in the game to none for ECU.
Quarterback Logan Thomas completed just 8 of 20 passes for 91 yards and had an interception in his second start as the Hokies relied primarily on their ground game. David Wilson gained 138 on 26 carries, but also fumbled the ball away.
“Anytime you’re playing quarterback and there’s so much going on and there’s just a learning curve there,” Beamer said of the redshirt sophomore. “We’ll go through it with Logan, but the thing I really believe is he’ll learn from this game. He’s a smart guy he’ll be better each and every game. … I think Logan will learn from this and I don’t have any doubt about that.”
Roaming the county getting ready for tonight … What in the world is going on in this county? After four... read more