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September 26, 2013

Behind Enemy Lines: VT

This week Jacketsonline goes behind enemy lines and has Hokie Haven Publisher Jason Stamm answer five questions about the upcoming Georgia Tech-VT game.

1. What is the deal with VT's offense? It has really been a train wreck since 2011.

VT's offense has been sporadic at best, but it's at least showing signs. Redshirt freshman Trey Edmunds has shown in two of the Hokies' games this season that he can run. Logan Thomas and the passing game showed they can get it done, as they did in throwing for 258 yards at East Carolina. And now that Brent Benedict looks to have a hold on the starting right tackle spot, the line looks to be more formidable. The problem has been getting everything going at the same time. Thomas still looks like he's regressed a bit overall and through they've improved, the receivers are still having trouble catching the ball. And though the situation is better than it was against Alabama, the running backs still aren't all fully healthy. VT has caught some lucky bounces and calls the past few games, but I'm not sure if they can keep that going.

2. Special teams which has been Beamer's calling card has struggled the last few seasons. Is there is specific area that is causing the breakdowns or is there something else?

Well, special teams has been a problem, enough that I said that "Beamer Ball is dead," after the season-opening loss to Alabama. But the past few games, it's been a nice turnaround. Against Marshall, Virginia Tech got its first touchdown from a blocked kick in three years, off a blocked punt and the Hokies blocked a field goal in overtime. VT also had by far its best return of the season, on a punt return by Kyshoen Jarrett, but it was called back on a block in the back penalty. So it's getting there, but not there yet.

3. Can you talk about the running back situation? I know VT has had a hard time finding healthy bodies there.

Edmunds is the guy here. He has a hip pointer that he suffered against Marshall and that might limit how much he gets used, but I'll be surprised if it's enough to keep him out. Sophomore JC Coleman is the one who's been banged up the most. He suffered two high-ankle sprain in fall camp, one healed faster than the other, missed Alabama and gave it a go against Western Carolina the next week. The ankle that was slower to heal was re-aggravated in the game and a few days later in practice, forcing him to miss the next two games. He looks to finally be healthy and that's a big help. Redshirt freshmen Chris Mangus and Joel Caleb are good, but Coleman has the most experience, even if it's only one more year.

4. Where does VT have an advantage matchup wise against GT in your opinion?

Against just about everyone this season, the advantage will be VT's defense. When it's on, it's without question a top 10 defense in the country. The problem the past two games has been making adjustments and getting in a groove. At East Carolina, the Hokies allowed an opening-drive touchdown and were lights out after that. Last week against Marshall, it took a whole half, but then the defense was again incredible. The key for the Yellow Jackets will be scoring early and getting on a roll early before Virginia Tech can adjust. Bud Foster is one of the best at that.

5. Score prediction and reasoning?

As this game usually is, it'll be close. Georgia Tech might be at home, but both teams are playing this game on a short week, so I think that kinda cancels it out. The difference to me is on defense. As has been the trend, I think the Yellow Jackets get a few scores early before the Hokies' defense settles in and stuffs Georgia Tech. It'll again come down to the wire, but I think Virginia Tech does just enough on offense and gets a score from somewhere else, defense or special teams, to win 23-20.



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