Inside Hilltopper Sports will be visiting with the upcoming opponent's beat writer each week to give our reader's more insight. This week, IHS caught up with Hokiehaven.com publisher Brian Mohr for his thoughts on Virginia Tech.
What are some things to look for on offense and defense from Virginia Tech?
On offense, the offensive line has really improved the past few weeks for Virginia Tech. The return of Blake DeChristopher, at tackle has been especially big. He was out the first few games and him going out, they were putting up runs of seven and eight yards on East Carolina. When he went out with a kidney injury, it was a problem that went on for a few weeks, because he was bleeding. The whole running game totally changed. The offense got really tight. They had a problem moving the ball. The guy they put in there, clearly was a step down from him. There was pressure on the quarterback. That was part of the reason Glennon got pulled and Tyrod Taylor went in. They were allowing pressure on the quarterback and Glennon didn't have time. Tyrod's really improved. Obviously, he can run, but his passing has been significantly better in the past week or two. He really showed it last week against Nebraska. The receivers are still raw for the most part. Greg Boone, he's been mostly focused on by the defenses so far. He hasn't gotten a lot of catches, but he's never open. They're always covering him. If he's open, they're gonna throw to him, because they were raving about him this summer. Then, all these teams started focusing on him. He's kinda had a problem getting open. The receivers are all young. They're all freshmen. I totally expect this game, if they're gonna pass, they're gonna try to get it to the receivers and get them more comfortable with Tyrod. I can see them trying to air it out a little more, just to get that clicking going. At running back, Kenny Lewis is the starter, but the guy to watch is Darren Evans. He'll get most of the carries by the end of the day, if it's close. He rips off four and five-yard runs regularly. He rarely gets hit in the backfield.
On defense, the linebacking corps is very solid. Nobody really stands out. Brett warren is in on a lot of tackles. He's the middle linebacker, he's sorta all over the field. He's kinda under the radar. He recorded a lot of tackles last week and no one even knew. It was hard to tell that he was in on that many plays. As for the defensive end, they've really stepped up. Actually, the whole defensive line was pretty atrocious the first week. They were getting dominated and they've totally turned it around in the past three weeks. John Graves is getting a lot of pressure up the middle. He's a defensive tackle. The two ends, Orion Martin and Jason Worilds were both in Nebraska's backfield all night, last week. They were really creating a lot of havoc. I think Martin had one and a half sacks and Worilds had a half a sack. They shared one. They've been really good. Macho Harris at the corner and Stephan Virgil have been really big. He's actually been hardly a step down from Brandon Flowers last year. Kam Chancellor's been quite a player himself, but he's been a little out of position. His switch to free safety has been sort of a problem. He's just sorta found himself out of position. That's how North Carolina beat him for a touchdown, Nebraska beat him for a touchdown. When he's out of position, because I think he's thinking too much, is when they scored on him. The other safety spot is gonna be a new starter this week, Dorian Porch. Deion Morgan went out with an ACL last week. They've been splitting time the whole year, so it's hardly a drop off.
Obviously, Virginia Tech can run but do they have the ability to go deep?
The receivers and Tyrod have worked a lot together. They're all young and they all worked over the summer together. These guys came together really quick. They're learning the position quickly. If they're open, he's gonna find them. The key is, the first couple of weeks, they weren't getting separation. Last week, they were. He found some of the guys. He was even finding the tight end and the second tight end, Andre Smith. They do a lot of quick, screen passes to the receivers. the real key, is they've gotta push it down field, which is something they have done in the ;ast week or two. I expect to see a little more of that this week. They're trying to get those guys in order. I think they'll be able to try to do it.
Lewis is starting bug Evans has the bigger numbers. Why is Lewis getting the nod?
Lewis is a senior, so I think there's more of a trust with the coaching staff. Lewis is a junior. He stepped out and played baseball for a year. He's got more experience. He was the guy that played last year and they sorta do play experience, whether they should or not. They're starting to realize Evans is clearly the better player, particularly up the middle. If Lewis goes out on the edge, he's pretty good. He's a good guy in space. Evans is a good guy in the middle, in the gut. He knows how to break tackles and he knows how to get through the line.
The Hokies held Georgia Tech and North Carolina to 17 points each but gave up 30 at Nebraska. Any concern?
It's in the passing game. What's sorta been the situation, Kam Chancellor's been out of position at times. They also sorta put heir corners on an island, for the most part. The defense, late in the game, was allowing the quarterback to get out of the pocket and create time. They weren't getting the pressure. I think they were getting sorta tired towards the end of the game. They gave up 14 or 17 points in the final quarter. I think they were exhausted. Up until that point, they only gave up 13. I think they were exhausted by playing tough the whole game and containing them. Then, they weren't containing them anymore, so the receivers had time to get open and they were coming back to the ball and the coreners weren't able to stay on their guys as well. I don't think it's really a big concern.
After losing the season-opener, VT's won four in a row. Are they back on track?
They do realize they're getting there. This came as, coming together really strong. They're really sorta developing this family bond. There's been a totally different situation with this team. Virginia Tech's gotten some bad press by player mentality and some of that. That's sorta been out the window. It's much more of a team, family mentality. These guys are sorta coming together. You see these guys coming together as a unit. The defense isn't the best players Virginia Tech has had, by far, but they're playing together as a unit and you can see how they're developing as a whole team. The offense and defense are working together now. They used to rely on the defense a lot more than the offense. The offense is coming around, they're moving it a lot better. The first couple of weeks, the offense was hardly moving the ball. Everyone's realizing that this team does have the talent to do that
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