Posts Tagged 'breakdown'

2009 BCS Conference Power Rankings Part 2

In Part 2 of our three-part coverage, College FootBlog continues our breakdown of the top six BCS conferences from the 2009 season.  In case you missed it, we ranked the fifth and sixth conferences earlier this week (see link).  We continue our analysis by providing a recap of last season and an outlook for next year for conferences #3 and #4 in our Power Rankings.

4.  Big 12


Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh was one of very few bright spots for the Big 12 in '09 (google images)

2009 Recap:

If not for Texas making it to the BCS National Championship Game, the Big 12 would have ranked fifth or sixth in the ’09 Power Rankings.  Nebraska came out of nowhere, but their offense was anemic.  Oklahoma lost Sam Bradford and never really got on track all year.  Add in Mizzou and Texas Tech not living up to high expectations coming off successful 2008 campaigns, and the Big 12 didn’t have much to talk about beyond Colt McCoy, Jordan Shipley and Ndamukong Suh.

2010 outlook:  Next season will likely be more of the same for the Big 12.  Although the loss of Colt McCoy in the first quarter of the BCS National Championship was a huge blow, it provided valuable experience to Freshman Garrett Gilbert.  Oklahoma’s offense should be improved with Landry Jones having a year of experience under his belt, but their dominant defense will likely take a step back.  The Sooners lose six defensive starters, including both corners and projected first-round DT Gerald McCoy.

Texas Tech will likely take a year or two before they truly integrate to Tommy Tuberville’s system, Oklahoma State will have to replace starting quarterback Zac Robinson and will lose WR Dez Bryant to the NFL.  Mizzou loses playmakers on each side of the ball in WR Denario Alexander and projected first round linebacker, Sean Weatherspoon.  Add to that, Nebraska’s departure of Suh (who many project as the number one overall pick in April’s draft), and the Big 12 North will have trouble keeping points off the scoreboard.

3.  Big Ten

2009 Recap:  The major reason the Big Ten did not claim the #2 spot in the ’09 Power Rankings was depth.  Iowa surprised many experts by effectively shutting Georgia Tech’s offense down, thanks in large part to All-Big Ten DE Adrian Clayborn, who is planning on returning for his senior year.  Terrelle Pryor saved his best performance for last, as he dominated in Ohio State’s Rose Bowl win over Oregon.

The Big Ten finished with a bowl record of 4-3, with a surprising win from Wisconsin over Miami and a Penn State victory over an offensively inept LSU team.  A more in depth look at the top two teams from the conference, however, shows a couple of teams that were far from juggernauts.

Iowa had one of the best defenses in the nation, but their offense was nothing to write home about.  The Hawkeyes struggled to beat Arkansas State at home and had to depend on two blocked field goals at the end of the game to defeat another FCS opponent, Northern Iowa 17-16 in Iowa City.

The Buckeyes nearly lost their opener to Navy at home and fell to a struggling USC team, and they later fell to 5-7 Purdue.


Look for Terrelle Pryor to have a huge year in 2010 (google images)

2010 Outlook:

Look for the Big Ten to make a serious run at the #2 conference in the country next season.  Jim Tressel continues to put great defenses on the field for the Bucks and the offense should take a huge step forward with the return of running backs Brandon Saine and Boom Herron.  And if Terrelle Pryor’s Rose Bowl performance was a sign of things to come, the Bucks will be the real deal come fall.

Iowa is also very young on offense–the ‘Hawks will return both freshman running backs, quarterback Ricky Stanzi and wideout Marvin McNutt, who exploded onto the scene in 2009.  Couple that with Adrian Clayborn and several returners on an already dominant defense, and the ‘Hawks could make a serious run in 2010.

Three other teams from the Big Ten to keep an eye on next year are Northwestern, Wisconsin and Michigan.  Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald is one of the most underrated coaches in the country.  Wisconsin’s John Clay took full advantage of being the work horse last year, and expect more of the same in 2010, and watch out for the Wolverines.  This will be Rich Rodriguez’ third full season in Ann Arbor, and Tate Forcier will have a spring to put some much needed weight on.  If UM can assemble an average defense, the Big Blue will be bowling again at year’s end.

Look for the breakdown of the top two conferences in College FootBlog’s countdown in the next few days…


Orange Bowl Breakdown: Iowa vs. Georgia Tech

On Tuesday night, all eyes will be on the Orange Bowl, as the Iowa Hawkeyes will take on the Yellow Jackets from Georgia Tech.  Iowa, who saw their dreams of a Big Ten Championship and trip to the Rose Bowl end at the hands of Rose Bowl Champs, Ohio State, will try to cap off a great season in Miami. 

Standing in their way will be Paul Johnson’s triple option attack that has given college football all it can handle since he took over in 2008.  The Jackets will look to continue their new version of college football’s most traditional offensive attack en route to a twelve win season. 

College FootBlog will provide a breakdown of each team’s strengths and areas for concern, we will analyze some of the match ups in the upcoming game, and we will give our prediction of the outcome of this BCS contest. 

Jonathan Dwyer leads the Georgia Tech's relentless ground attack (google images)

Georgia Tech 

Strengths:  When head coach Paul Johnson announced that he planned on bringing his triple option offense from Navy to Georgia Tech, many (including College FootBlog) thought he would not last long before being run out of Atlanta. 

Instead, his Yellow Jackets have dominated the ground game, and this year, GT ranks second nationally in rushing yards per game with just over 307 ypg.  Jonathan Dwyer leads the Jackets with just under 1350 yards, and he is averaging just over six yards per carry.  

Quarterback Josh Nesbitt is equally dangerous running the football, rushing for 18 touchdowns this season, and he is only nine yards away from breaking the 1,000-yard mark this season. 

Key Concerns:  As great as GT runs the ball, their defense has been very inept at stopping, or even slowing down, opposing running backs.  The Yellow Jackets have given up over 150 yards rushing per game. 

They will have to do a much better job on Tuesday if they have any aspirations of beating an Iowa team that depends on their ground game as well.  


Strengths:  Make no mistake about it, Iowa has won their games because of a dominant defense.  The Hawkeyes have the nation’s 11th best total defense.  In fact, ‘Hawks’ dominant “D” held their opponents to 17 points or fewer in eight of their twelve games this season. 

Adrian Clayborn leads Iowa's dominant front four (google images)

 Like all great defenses, it has to start with the front four.  Led by junior DE Adrian Clayborn, Iowa’s defensive front as equally good at defending the run and pass.  Just as disruptive is the linebacker corps, which is anchored by junior Jeremiha Hunter

Key Concerns:  The play of quarterback Ricky Stanzi has been great at times, but downright dismal at others.  This inconsistency could really hurt, and can, and has, at times this season, made Iowa offense very one-dimensional. 

After suffering a severe high ankle sprain against Northwestern, Stanzi had a minor surgery, and it appears that he will be 100%.  He will have to limit the turnovers if he wants to keep his team in the game–Stanzi has 15 TD’s, but 14 picks this season. 

Georgia Tech Offense vs. Iowa Defense 

As talented as Iowa’s defense is against the run, they have not seen an offense like Georgia Tech’s–not for several years.  The only team to slow down GT’s running game in the last two seasons was the Miami Hurricanes early in the season, when they held the Jackets to 95 yards on the ground. 

Paul Johnson added a few new wrinkles to his option attack and got his team right back on track.  Iowa’s hard-nosed defense should contain the Jackets better than most, but it is usually only a matter of time before Dwyer, Nesbitt or one of the many other dangerous weapons in the GT backfield breaks loose for a couple huge gains.  EDGE:  Georgia Tech 

Iowa Offense vs. Georgia Tech Defense 

Although Ricky Stanzi has been rather erratic this season, the Iowa running game has been very solid.  After losing Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, Shonn Green to the NFL Draft last season, many wondered who would fill the void.  The tandem of Adam Robinson and Brandon Wegher has amassed over 1,300 yards this season. 

As we mentioned, the Yellow Jackets have had their issues with the running game this season.  Look for the Hawkeyes to get in a lot of third down and manageable situations, which should take some pressure off Stanzi and the passing game.  EDGE:  Iowa 

Special Teams 

Iowa kicker Daniel Murray and punter Ryan Donahue were both honorable mention All-Big Ten by the media.  Georgia Tech’s kicker, Scott Blair has put up solid numbers as well, but his five missed field goals this year show a little less consistency than Iowa’s Murray. 

Each team has utilized multiple players in the return game, but for both teams, the offenses are built for grinding it out and establishing field position by grinding it out and punting when necessary. 


As solid as Iowa’s defense is and has been all season, look for Tuesday’s game against Georgia Tech to be the fifth game this season that the Hawkeyes surrender more than 17 points.  The Yellow Jackets have scored 30 or more points in nine of their thirteen games this season.  Iowa will contain Dwyer and Nesbitt for a while, but look for one of those two great runners to open up a few big runs, at least by the end of the first half. 

Iowa’s ground game will keep them in this football game, as it should have some significant success against Tech’s struggling rush defense.  However, even though the Hawkeyes are more than capable of playing from behind, if Georgia Tech can get to 28 points, Iowa will have to turn to its erratic passing game, and that could prove to be the difference.  Score Prediction:  Georgia Tech wins 31-27 

ACC College Football Breakdown Part II: Atlantic Division

A couple days ago, College FootBlog provided a breakdown of the ACC Coastal Division as part one of two brekdowns of the ACC’s college football season.  In part two of College FootBlog’s breakdown of the ACC in the early stages of this season, we will provide power rankings for the Atlantic Division and cover some of the key strenths and concerns for each team.  Here is our list from what we feel are the teams in this division from top to bottom.

1.  Clemson

Senior DE Ricky Sapp will be playing on Sundays next year (AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain)

Senior DE Ricky Sapp will be playing on Sundays next year (AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain)

Srengths:  The Tigers have a great defense, particularly their front four led by senior DE Ricky Sapp.  The Clemson defense had issues with Georgia Tech, but who hasn’t?  If you take out that game, the Tigers have given up an average of 247 yards per game, with their most dominant outing coming against Boston College when they held the Eagles to 54 total yards.

Key Concerns:  After what was a very promising start to the season, freshman quarterback Kyle Parker has struggled as of late. 

In Parker’s last two games, he has completed less than 47% of his passes (30/64) and is averaging less than 150 yards passing per game.  Possibly the more telling stat in those two games is the zero touchdowns and two interceptions.  If he does not turn it around quickly, head coach Dabo Swinney will have to make a change.

Strengths:  College FootBlog has been high on Chrisitian Ponder all season, and he continues to impress.  Even in last weekend’s loss to the South Florida Bulls, Ponder went 25-37 for 269 yards, and he did so with some key drops and horrible protection from what was supposed to be the best O-line in the ACC.  Overall, Ponder’s dramatic improvement over last season and his poise has been the only thing that has kept FSU in games this season.
Key Concerns:  Florida State’s pass defense has been atrocious this season.  Even in their stunning win over BYU, the Seminoles managed to give up 365 yards to the Cougars, despite the fact that FSU dominated the time of possession, leaving Max Hall and company just over 20 minutes to work with.  Overall, the ‘Noles rank 115th nationally against the pass.  If that does not improve, FSU will have no shot at winning the Atlantic Division as many predicted would happen this year.
Quarterback Russell Wilson has 12 TD's and no picks in 2009

Quarterback Russell Wilson has 12 TD's and no picks in 2009

Strengths:  Quarterback Russell Wilson led the Wolfpack shocked a lot of the “experts” last week when the stunned Pittsburgh by lighting up what was supposed to be a solid Panther defense.  Wilson showed why he was first team All-ACC as a freshman last year.  Here is a stat for you–so far this season, Wilson has 12 touchdown passes with ZERO interceptions.  His athleticism and gamebreaking abilities could help NC State shock a lot of people before season’s end.
Key Concerns:  The running game minus Wilson is still a bit of a question mark.  Senior tailback, Toney Baker has been pretty solid this season, averaging  just over five yards per carry, but his 48 carries are only 16 more that Wilson.  Last game against Pitt, Wilson led the team in rushing with 91 yards on ten carries.  If Wilson has to continue to be that important in the running game, the chance for injury goes up substantially, especially when the Wolfpack gets into the thick of their schedule, which really begins in October.  If Wilson goes, so does NC State’s offense.

 4.  Boston College 

Strengths:  Quarterback Dave Shinskie has been solid in his first year as BC’s starter.  After a dismal performance against Clemson a couple weeks ago, Shinskie bounced back last weekend, throwing for 228 yards and three touchdowns last weekend against Wake Forest.  He will have a good shot at matching or improving on those numbers this weekend when the Eagles welcome FSU’s pourous secondary (see above).
Key Concerns:  The entire defense has struggled when faced with a true FBS opponent.  In those games (which only include the last two), offenses have really had their way with BC’s defense, who lost their two dominant DT’s, including first round NFL Draft selection BJ RajiWake Forest, who has had their share of offensive issues, put up 496 yards against the BC defense last weekend.
Strengths:  Staying with the theme here, quarterback, Riley Skinner has not been as effective as he has in year’s past, but he is still the leader of this Deamon Deacon squad.  Even in a somewhat down year so far, the four-year starter has still managed to complete just under 66% of his passes and eight touchdowns. 
Key Concerns:  The Deamon Deacons lost some subtantial pieces to their defense from last year, most notibly LB Aaron Curry, who was drafted number four overall last year and CB Alphonso Smith, who was drafted early in round 2.  Wake is really missing the impact that these two players brought.  Last week, against a struggling Boston College offense, the Deamon Deacons surrendered 398 yards, which included three TD’s through the air.
Strengths:  N/A–after struggling to beat FCS opponent James Madison by three points in week 2, the Terrapins fell to Middle Tennessee for the second year in a row.  As for the two games against FBS opponents, the Terps have been dominated 52-13 to Cal and 34-13 against Rutgers.
Key Concerns:  Name it.  The Terps have been horrible in nearly every facet of the game this season.  It looks like it will be a long two months for Ralph Friedgen.

College Football Preview Week 5: Oklahoma at Miami

For the first time since 2007, Miami and Oklahoma will square off this Saturday.  The 2007 match up is one that the Hurricanes would like to forget, as the Sooners pounded them 51-13 to officially begin the Sam Bradford era in Norman.

This year, the two teams could not be any more different than they were just two seasons ago.  In this week’s edition, College FootBlog will analyze the ‘Canes and Sooners and give our prediction for the game.

Jacory Harris will look to bounce back after a rough outing against Virginia Tech (google images)

Jacory Harris will look to bounce back after a rough outing against Virginia Tech (google images)


Strengths:  Sophomore quarterback Jacory Harris exploded onto the college football scene in his big performances against Florida State and Georgia Tech, but he was held in check by Virginia Tech last week, going 9-25 and an interception.

Despite the dismal performance, two things must be considered in last weekend’s defeat.  For one, credit must be given to Virginia Tech’s outstanding defensive coordinator, Bud Foster and his defense, which always seems to overachieve.  And secondly, the monsoon-like conditions last weekend made passing very difficult.

The Hurricanes will need Harris to play like he did in his first two games if they expect to have a shot at winning this weekend.

Key Concern:  Miami’s defense has given up a ton of points in their three games, allowing 30+ points in two of their three games this season.  The pass-happy Sooners have not skipped a beat after losing Heisman Trophy winner, Sam Bradford in their opener against BYU.


Strengths:  OU’s defense has been lights out this season only surrendering 13 points in their three games.  After giving up two touchdown passes to BYU’s Max Hall in the opener, the Sooners have shut out their last two opponents, most recently against offensive juggernaut Tulsa.  The Sooners will face the most speed and balance that they have faced so far this season when they travel to Miami, but there is not much more that Bob Stoops could ask from his defense so far this year.



Heisman winner Sam Bradford would like to come back this weekend in Miami (google images)

Heisman winner Sam Bradford would like to come back this weekend in Miami (google images)

Key Concerns:

  Although it is still unclear if or how much Sam Bradford will play in this game, it looks as though he will attempt to play on Saturday.  He started light throwing last week and experienced some discomfort, which was expected.  Backup QB Landry Jones has lit up the scoreboard in relief of Bradford the last two weeks, leading the Sooners to their unbelievable 109-0 point differential in those two games.



If Bradford is not 100% but still attempts to play, the ‘Canes could slow down OU’s powerful offense.  The success of Jones the last two weeks give the Sooners a viable option off the bench, but if Bradford cannot make all of his throws, the OU offense may have trouble clicking.

Miami Offense vs. Oklahoma Defense

As explosive as Miami’s offense was in their first two games, the moment they went against a solid, well-coached defense when they played Va Tech, they faltered badly.  As mentioned, the weather probably played a major factor in that game as well, but Jacory Harris will likely have his toughest test to date this weekend. 

Anchored by DT Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma’s front four may be the most talented in all of college football.  Couple that with two senior corners, Dominique Franks and Brian Jackson, and Harris may have his hands full.  EDGE:  OU

Oklahoma Offense vs. Miami Defense

Miami has a much faster, more athletic defense than OU has faced so far this season.  But as athletic as they are, the ‘Canes defense has given up a lot of points this season.  The ‘Canes had been great against the run until they encountered Ryan Williams last weekend.  Whoever plays quarterback for OU this weekend should have some success against this Miami secondary.  EDGE:  OU

Special Teams

Oklahoma’s Ryan Broyles and DeMarco Murray are very dangerous returners, but kicker Jimmy Stevens has not been tested much this season because OU’s offense has been so dominant.  With the return of Javarris James, Miami has been able to let Graig Cooper return kicks this season, and the results have been there.  Cooper is a game breaker.  Kicker Matt Bosher has not been flawless by any means, but he will be playing at home.  Slight EDGE:  Miami


Miami showed some real vulnerabilities last weekend in Blacksburg, especially on offense.  Look for Jacory Harris and his stable of receivers to have a much better performance than last weekend, but they will still have a very tough time against this veteran and very talented OU defense.  If Harris can find a rhythm, the ‘Canes will have a shot, but if OU can force a turnover early on, it could be a long day for Miami.

The bye week for OU last week also plays a huge factor in this match up.  Miami had a lot of success in their first two games, but some of that can be contributed to an entire off season to install a new offense that Florida State had not seen until their opening day match up.  And the ‘Canes had bye week immediately following that victory to prepare for Georgia Tech.  They do not have that luxury in this game.  Final Score Prediction:  OU wins 31-21

College Football Week 4 Preview: USF at Florida State

For the first time ever, the South Florida Bulls will take on the Florida State Seminoles.  While the Bulls will be fighting for respect for themselves and their conference, the Seminoles would like nothing more than to ride the momentum from their dominant performance over the #7 ranked BYU Cougars.

College Footblog will provide a breakdown of this match up, highlighting the strengths of each team.  We will also analyze the match ups on offense, defense and special teams, and we will conclude with a score prediction.

Ponder has established himself as top tier QB so far this seaon (google images)

Ponder has established himself as top tier QB so far this season (google images)

Florida State

Strengths:  This will sound like a broken record, but the biggest strength for FSU has to be the emergence of Christian Ponder.  Ponder was known last year for his ability to run the football, but it has been a much different story this season.

While he still has the ability to run, as evidenced by his 77 yards and touchdown run against BYU last weekend, he has taken his passing game to a completely different level.  Ponder averaged just over 150 yards passing per game in 2008 and completed a little over 55% of his attempts.

In the young 2009 season, he has completed over 65% of his passes and is averaging 271 yards per game.  These solid statistics have come against a very fast and athletic defense in the Miami Hurricanes, and they have also come against the smart, disciplined BYU defense.

Another strength for the ‘Noles is offensive line.  All five starters and several key back ups have returned from 2008’s team.  They had to return because they are all underclassmen.  O-line coach Rick Trickett has once again shown why he is known throughout college football as one of the best (if not the best) offensive line coaches in the nation.  They worked much of the off-season on pass protection, and that work is paying dividends.  Last weekend’s game against BYU showed that the big uglies did not forget how to run block, either.  Not only did they protect Ponder, but for the first time this season, the ‘Noles dominated the ground game, amassing over 300 rushing yards.


George Selvie leads one of most experienced defenses in the nation (google images)

George Selvie leads one of most experienced defenses in the nation (google images)

Strengths:  The experience of the entire defense for USF has been a factor so far this season, and it will continue to be a big factor for the rest of the year.  Led by dominant DE, George Selvie, the Bulls’ defense starts ten seniors and junior.  Despite taking on three less than stellar opponents this season, USF has dominated like they should, limiting their opponents to 20 points in three games, including a shut out last weekend vs. Charleston Southern.

The other major strength for the Bulls is their fiery leader at quarterback, Matt Grothe.  He is what makes the offense click by throwing and rushing.  Unfortunately, it was announced on Sunday that Grothe tore the ACL in his left knee in Saturday’s win over Charleston Southern.  That injury will require surgery and will keep Grothe out for the rest of the season.

That puts a lot on the shoulders of redshirt freshman BJ Daniels, who has only seen limited action so far this season.  Daniels has proven to be a great athlete, currently ranked as the second leading rusher for the Bulls, but USF will miss the leadership of Grothe.

USF Offense vs. FSU Defense

The Bulls will look to spread FSU out with their four-receiver sets, but if FSU continues to stop the run, as they have done in the first three weeks this season, it could be a long day for USF.  The Florida Gators have given FSU fits with their spread attack, but BJ Daniels is no Tebow and USF does not have a speed advantage with their running backs like the Gators have.  FSU will likely load up against the run and force the Bulls’ rookie quarterback to beat them with his arm.  This should give the Bulls opportunities for big plays in the passing game, but FSU has shown that while they still have significant holes in the secondary, they also have some playmakers like true freshman Greg ReidEDGE:  FSU

FSU Offense vs. USF Defense

One would think that with USF’s experience on defense and the pass rushing ability of Selvie, that the Bulls may be able to get after Ponder.  While the Bulls will provide some challenges, FSU’s O-line and Christian Ponder have proven that they can perform against speed and athleticism against Miami, but they have also proven that they can play solid, fundamental football like they did against a very mature and experienced BYU team.  Look for offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher to try to continue the ‘Noles’ success on the ground.  EDGE:  FSU

Special Teams

FSU has a few explosive returners in Greg Reid and Bert Reed, but the rest of the Seminole special teams has been far from “special” this season.  The kickoff coverage has been very poor and after starting his career with a 52-yard field goal against rival, Miami, freshman kicker Dustin Hopkins has struggled to make extra points, let alone field goals.

USF has not had to rely much on their special teams because the offense has been so efficient.  In fact, kicker Delbert Alvarado has only one field goal, but he has drilled 14 extra points so far this season.  Marcus Edwards and Jerome Murphy are both solid returns for the Bulls as well.  EDGE:  USF


Despite USF’s dominance in the first three games, they have yet to play a quality Division I opponent until this weekend.  The Bulls’ offense has been very efficient, but probably the biggest driver of that success has been Grothe.  With his season-ending injury, the Bulls will rely on a freshman quarterback, and opening his starting career at Doak Campbell Stadium against a Seminole defense that is looking for respect will be a tall order, to say the least.

If Christian Ponder can continue to lead the FSU offense, and if Jimbo Fisher is able to balance the offensive attack with a solid running game like they did last week, FSU will probably be too much for the Bulls to handle.  I expect USF to fight admirably and keep it relatively close in the first half, but FSU should start taking control of this one midway through the second quarter.  Prediction:  FSU wins 34-21

College Football Preview Week 4: Miami at Virginia Tech

Same bitter rivalry, different conference.  For years, the annual match up between the Miami Hurricanes and the Virginia Tech Hokies often determined the Big East Champion.  Now that Miami is back in the national spotlight, this Saturday’s game could very well determine who will represent the Coastal Division in this year’s ACC Championship Game.

In this week’s edition, College Footblog will analyze these two former Big East rivals and their match up this coming weekend.  We will look at the strengths of each team, we will break down the game and we will give our prediction for this very important match up.

Jacory Harris has taken Mark Whipple's offense and run so far in 2009.  (google images)

Jacory Harris has taken Mark Whipple's offense and run so far in 2009. (google images)


Strengths:  The strength of Miami, particularly on offense has to be the emergence of sophomore quarterback Jacory Harris.  After splitting time with now departed Robert Marve, who transferred to Purdue last spring, Harris has silenced all of the critics who questioned his ability to win games with his arm.

In two games this year against quality opponents, Harris has amassed 656 yards, while completing just under 70% of his passes.  He has taken to new offensive coordinator, Mark Whipple’s scheme, and he has really come into his own so far in 2009.

Miami’s other major strength is the two-headed monster they have at running back.  Graig Cooper and Javarris James were held someone in check in the ‘Canes’ opener at Florida State, but in two games, they have combined for 232 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, while averaging just over 4.7 yards per carry.

Virginia Tech

Strengths:  In a season that has not been full of offensive highlights, the play of freshman running back, Ryan Williams has been a constant for the Hokies.  While sharing the backfield with fellow freshman David Wilson, Williams has still managed to rush for 235 yards and five touchdowns, while averaging an astounding 8.1 yards per carry.

The other strength for Virginia Tech is their massive and experienced offensive line.  Anchored by seniors Sergio Renderand Ed Wang, the Hokies’ O-line is physical and athletic, and they are a big reason for the success Frank Beamer’s squad can control the clock with a solid running attack.

Ryan Williams could have his biggest test this weekend.  (google images)

Ryan Williams could have his biggest test this weekend. (google images)

VT Offense vs. Miami Defense

Look for Miami to stack the box in an effort to limit Williams and the VT running game to fewer big plays on the ground.  The Hurricanes’ defense managed to shut down a Georgia Tech’s more dominant ground game to less than 100 yards last Thursday.  That is the same Georgia Tech offense that broke 300 rushing yards in each of their first two games this season.

Much like the ‘Canes did to Georgia Tech, they will dare the quarterback to beat them through the air.  Va Tech quarterback, Tyrod Taylor has only managed to throw for 252 yards in the Hokies’ three games this season.  EDGE:  Miami

Miami Offense vs. VT Defense

As previously mentioned, the rise of Jacory Harris has surprised many in the college football world, but he has been the real deal.  He and the weapons around him are much more explosive and dynamic than the Alabama Crimson Tide offense that lit up Virginia Tech in week one for nearly 500 yards.

Miami’s balance on offense and the depth they have at running back and wide receiver will be a lot for Virginia Tech to handle.  EDGE:  Miami

Special Teams:  With a healthy Javarris James back in the rotation at running back, head coach Randy Shannon has been able to utilize Graig Cooper in the return game this season–and the results have been there.  Add the explosive Travis Benjamin to the mix, and the ‘Canes have some homerun threats in the return game.  As solid as the return game has been for Miami, junior kicker Matt Bosher has been a little shaky.

Virginia Tech has always been known for their special teams, and this year has been no different.  Davon Morgan and Ryan Williams have added some explosiveness to the return game, and the Hokies feature a senior kicker and punter.  Couple that with Frank Beamer’s uncanny ability to block kicks, and the VT special teams are always a threat.  SLIGHT EDGE:  Virginia Tech

Over the opening weeks of this college football season, Virginia Tech has shown the same consistency that they have shown in the last several years–solid running game and special teams, and Bud Foster is still one of the best defensive coordinators in all of college football.

Miami, on the other hand, has taken a major step forward in their quest to get back to the dominant days of the 80’s and 90’s.  With the emergence of Jacory Harris to compliment the talented running back tandem of Cooper and James, the Hurricanes once again have an explosive offense.  They have also shown with their dominance over Georgia Tech that they not only have the speed and athleticism on defense, but that they are also capable of playing with discipline.

Bud Foster will be able to slow down the Miami offense, but they will still get their yards and the biggest factor will likely be the Miami defense, stacking the line to slow down VT’s running game, and I just do not see Tyrod Taylor being able to win this one with his arm.  Prediction:  Miami wins 24-14

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