The No. 12 Virginia Tech Hokies are 8-1 and set to enter Bobby Dodd Stadium on Nov. 10 to take on the Yellow Jackets. The Hokies are coming off a narrow 14-10 victory over unranked Duke, a game in which they were favored by 15. They are now in line to face off against a reinvigorated Georgia Tech team in a primetime Thursday night game. In order for the Hokies to continue winning conference games and experience success on the road against the Jackets, they must execute the following.
First, a priority must be to establish the run with junior running back David Wilson, who leads the Hokies as well as the entire nation in rushing yards with 1,185. Wilson has eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark in all but one game this season and has averaged 6.3 yards per carry. The Jackets have struggled at times in the run game, allowing four 100 yard rushers on the season. If Virginia Tech is able to open some gaps with their offensive line and get Wilson rolling, the Hokies will be able to stick to their game plan and expose the Jackets’ defense with the play-action game.
Second, the Hokies’ defense must focus on stopping Georgia Tech’s potent rushing attack, which is spearheaded by redshirt junior quarterback Tevin Washington. Washington has amassed 636 yards on the ground with 10 rushing touchdowns so far this season and is a dual threat to the Hokies defense. If Virginia Tech can force Washington to rely on his arm in third and long situations to make plays, they are likely to rattle him. Washington had success running the ball on quarterback draws, a play the Hokies will need to watch out for on third down.
Finally, Virginia Tech must limit their mistakes in every facet of play. They moved the ball effortlessly against Duke last week, but turned the ball over twice, missed a 29-yard chip-shot field goal, and allowed Duke’s only touchdown drive of the day to continue by committing three 15-yard penalties. If the Hokies can simply keep from hindering themselves and execute their game plan, they will be a difficult force for the Jackets to stop.
The Jackets are coming off of a thrilling upset victory over No. 5 ranked Clemson in their homecoming game. Despite two conference losses on the road in which the Jackets performed poorly, Georgia Tech was able to put together its best performance of the season and triumph over the visiting Tigers. If the Jackets want to earn another conference victory over a visiting ranked opponent, they will have to do the following.
First, the Jackets must do what they do best: run the ball often and run it well. They dominated Clemson in the trenches, with the offensive line blocking well and opening running lanes that Washington was able to exploit. Junior A-back Orwin Smith, an explosive perimeter threat that has averaged 11.3 yards per rush, must be an integral part of the rushing attack as well. If the Jackets can dominate the line of scrimmage and consistently move the ball on the ground, they will be able to generate lengthy drives and control the pace of the game.
Second, Georgia Tech must make stopping Hokies running back David Wilson a defensive priority. Although the Hokies have a relatively balanced offensive attack, they rely heavily on Wilson for production, losing only the game in which he failed to reach 100 yards rushing. The Hokies enter this matchup with the No. 24 ranked rushing attack in the country, an area of defense that Georgia Tech had struggled with before the Miami game. If the Jackets can limit Wilson’s success, their defense can force Hokies quarterback Logan Thomas to lead a one-dimensional passing attack.
Finally, the Jackets must continue to dominate the game’s time of possession. In the victory over Clemson, Georgia Tech had the ball for 39 minutes—well over half of the game. In Tech’s previous two losses against Virginia and Miami, the time of possession was nearly an even split. In order to maintain control, the Jackets must have positive yardage on early downs so that they can avoid the third-and-longs that plagued them against the Cavaliers and Hurricanes. If the Jackets are able to sustain long drives and dictate the pace of the game, the Hokies defense will be hard pressed to stop the triple option.