Friday, September 26, 2008

Hokie Matchup: vs. Nebraska

The Virginia Tech Hokies (3-1) will face off against their toughest nonconference opponent of the season (let's face it, ECU shouldn't have been that tough) this Saturday in Nebraska.

Do the Hokies have a chance at the win with all the struggles they've faced in squeaker wins thus far? Well, Nebraska, though undefeated, is largely untested against any decent teams, but they definitely look to be on top of their game.

The deciding factors in tomorrow's matchup will be:

  • Quarterbacks — Nebraska's QB has touchdowns rushing, passing and receiving this season already. VT's Tyrod Taylor is still said to be its starting QB, though he may still have a sensitive ankle, and he threw two INTs against North Carolina. Glennon was able to lead the Hokies down the field in Chapel Hill when Taylor went down with his ankle, but he only tried one pass and relied on an otherwise uneventful run game. VT must get Taylor (hopefully healthy) passing the ball, making big rushing plays and thinking twice before throwing into coverage if they want to energize what has been a terrible attempt at offense.
  • Crowd — The Hokies did well in a pretty hostile Chapel Hill crowd. The same wasn't true in a "neutral" Charlotte field against East Carolina. Nebraska will be the loudest, most hostile environment the Hokies have seen yet. They have to stay positive and stay focused, and again, the QB leadership element comes into play here.
  • Special Teams — I doubt it's a question as to whether the Hokies defense will perform well, and maybe the defense will even score more points that the offense (with some help from the kicker). I think VT's offense will still be moving pretty slowly, leaving the momentum up to special teams. UNC was the first opponent against which the Hokies' did not block a kick, and that game was too close for comfort. Block that kick (and don't let them play Beamerball on you)!
This game is not in the bag for either team. It's a good measurement tool for Nebraska, and it's a must-win for the Hokies if they plan to see themselves back in the rankings and getting strong enough to keep winning in the ACC. We'll see what happens.

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