Hokies Hyped for Thursday Night Showdown with Ga Tech
by Brittany Gropp
November 3, 2010
The Virginia Tech Hokies (6-2, 4-0 ACC) are all set to face off against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (5-3, 3-2 ACC) on Thursday. And once again, the matchup is a highly anticipated one.
"Georgia Tech is a team that I was looking forward to playing going into the season," said quarterback Tyrod Taylor. "I feel like it's a rivalry between us and them. We always play like it and Thursday night is no better time to play them."
The Hokies have a number of sources of motivation heading into this year's game. One, of course, is a result of last year's loss to Georgia Tech when the Hokies were ranked fourth in the country.
"Last year we went down to Georgia Tech and it was disappointing," said rover Davon Morgan. "This week we're just coming out and playing hard, full-force."
Another source of motivation stems from the controversy that surrounded a number of questionable tackles made by the Yellow Jackets in last year's game, specifically the one which injured defensive tackle John Graves.
"Things like that happen every now and then," said Graves. "And it's hard to say what their intentions were. So it is what it is."
Coach Frank Beamer was so concerned with the dangerous tackles last year that he sent videos into the NCAA following the game. During the offseason, new regulations regarding high-low tackles were established.
Both the Hokies and the Yellow Jackets head into Thursday's game coming off of a bye week, meaning the teams have each had ten days to prepare.
The extra preparation time was particularly critical for the Hokies, considering they will be facing the number one rushing offense in the country.
Although Virginia Tech gained experience against the Yellow Jackets' triple option offense during the past two years, players acknowledge that experience only helps so much.
"[Experience] helps," said Graves, "but they just do such a great job over there of just coaching it up that it's always a challenge playing against their offense."
In addition to their offensive system, the Yellow Jackets' quarterback Josh Nesbitt is also a threat. Nesbitt is just 42 yards shy of breaking the ACC record for career rushing yards as a quarterback.
In order to prepare for his size, speed and skill, the Hokies have used back-up quarterback Ricardo Young to imitate Nesbitt's play.
"[Young] may not be as big as Nesbitt, but he's quick and he's fast and he has great vision," said Graves. "Like I said before, it's hard to simulate [Georgia Tech's] offense...from a personnel standpoint and from a speed standpoint."
Virginia Tech's offense will also have to make some adjustments from last year's matchup, considering they put up a mere three points after three trips to the red-zone in the first half.
"It's got to be a team win," said Coach Beamer. "The offense has got to keep the ball or score. The defense has got to get them to slow down. And special teams...we've got to get something out of that."
Fortunately for the Hokies, they head into this game playing well in all three areas. They lead the ACC in both red zone offense and red zone defense, and they rank in the top five in the ACC in every special teams category.
The Hokies take on Georgia Tech at Lane Stadium Thursday night. Kickoff is at 7:30.