Catching up on weekly season previews. Up next: Virginia Tech ...
To preview this year's Boston College-Virginia Tech game down in Blacksburg, we welcome back longtime friend of the blog furrer4heisman from Gobbler Country.
BC Interruption: The talk of the off season has to be the high expectations for Logan Thomas. Last week I heard an analyst compare him to Cam Newton. What makes Thomas so dangerous? And what are Hokie fans expecting of him this year?
Gobbler Country: I'm tired of hearing the Cam Newton comparisons because Thomas' size and position are where his similarities to Newton end. He's more of a pocket passer who will occasionally run when he has to. He can get up to speed when he's in space, but you're not going to see Tech run the offense Auburn ran last year. Thomas' job should be to not lose games for the Hokies. If he manages the game, he'll be fine.
I said earlier this year that I'll settle for Thomas being like Tee Martin. One of the other Hokie bloggers, Josh Parcell, compared him to Josh Freeman. The Newton comparisons are lazy and unfounded.
At the end of the day we really don't know what to expect out of Thomas. He's big and he'll be able to sit in the pocket and find his open receivers, but he's not going to be running wild. His emergence as the back up last year allowed us to take more chances with Tyrod outside of the pocket and on designed runs. Some people are saying we'll have more designed runs for Thomas this year. I doubt it because our back ups aren't close to the level Thomas was at last year. We can't afford to lose him to injury so we're not going to take chances with him.
Expect Thomas to be brought along gradually and have the playbook be opened up for him slowly as the season progresses. He won't be a world beater, but he'll be put in a position where he doesn't have to be.
BCI: Last year Frank Beamer and Co. made it to the Orange Bowl ... with horrific results. What are the team goals for this season?
GC: I don't think the goals have changed. With a new QB and a defense that's coming off a down year I think winning the conference would be a huge victory for this team.
BCI: David Wilson showed glimmers of greatness last year, even playing behind Ryan Williams for most of the season. How do you think Wilson and a veteran Hokie offensive line will manage a very stingy BC run defense?
GC: It'll be tough, but BC's always tough against the run. This might be one of those Don Coryell "pass to set up the run" games. That said, I think Wilson's the kind of quick, elusive back that can have success agianst BC's run defense by getting to the outside and turning the corner.
BCI: Last season Montel Harris ran for 111 yards, but the BC passing game was completely ineffective against the "Lunch Pail" defense. Who are some emerging stars and what makes Bud Foster's defense so effective year after year?
GC: Well last year, the defense was very average and had trouble stopping anyone on the ground. We're really far away from the game, but I think the key to the game will be Virginia Tech's ability to put pressure on the quarterback when they play the Eagles. Most people know about Jayron Hosley and Bruce Taylor, but one guy to watch this year is Antone Exum. He's very athletic and at rover will have the freedom to roam and make plays in the secondary.
What has made Virginia Tech's defense successful is the talent that has come through at the boundary cornerback position. Because those guys are often allowed to be left on an island, we're able to commit more personnel to stopping the run.
When front seven is able to do its job and stop the run to get the opposing team into passing downs, Tech has been able to get to the quarterback thanks to some very good college defensive ends that have been in Blacksburg. So the success we've had has come thanks to trusting our corners, stopping the run and getting to the QB on passing downs. Well we weren't all that good at stopping the run last year, so that allowed teams to stay out of situations where Tech was able to pin its ears back.
This year, we need the defensive tackles to be better. No offense to John Graves, who was an outstanding leader for us on defense, but we have to be better (and bigger) at that position. This year we'll have Kwamaine Battle back from injury (he tore his ACL vs. James Madison) so hopefully we'll improve our numbers against the run.
BCI: Ok prediction time. Boston College vs. Virginia Tech. Blacksburg, October 22. Who you got?
GC: Easy. We'll win because I won't be there. Since the two teams joined the ACC, the Hokies are undefeated against BC when I'm not there and winless when I'm in attendance. I'll be watching from my couch, thank you very much.
BCI: Thanks for joining us.