Brock Berlin has completed 61% of his passes for over 1600 yards. If he keeps the ball out of the defense’s hands this week, the fans will start to come around.
Bryan Randall played amazingly in the first six games of the season but imploded against West Virginia, throwing three interceptions and getting sacked four times. He doesn’t put up big passing numbers but his running ability could cause some problems.
Jarrett Payton will need his first 100-yard performance against a team other than Temple if the ‘Canes want to control the game. Look for Jason Geathers to get some more carries. Tyrone Moss looked good rushing for over 100 yards against the Owls, but he is still young.
The Hurricanes shut down Kevin Jones last year, but in 2001 he ran for 160 yards as the Hokies almost ruined the ‘Canes’ title hopes. West Virginia held Jones to 59 yards on the ground, but that was partly because they had to pass the ball once they fell behind. There is no denying that Jones is one of the best backs in the country.
Kellen Winslow is the first Lombardi Trophy semi-finalist to play tight end since Oklahoma’s Keith Jackson in 1987. Winslow can dominate a game like he has done recently, but Berlin needs to spread the ball around to speedy receivers Roscoe Parrish, Kevin Beard, and 6’4″ Ryan Moore.
Ernest Wilford can play but the question remains whether he and Head Coach Frank Beamer have made up after Beamer slapped him during the WVU game. Besides Wilford the Hokies don’t have any big-time threats at receiver.
The starting offensive line hasn’t allowed a sack since the East Carolina win. The back-up offensive line ruined the streak of games without a sack when they almost got back up signal-caller Derrick Crudup killed against Temple. Joe McGrath has played well since returning from an injury.
Center Jake Grove is the heart of the offense and an All-American. The left side of the line features two sophomores, but they have held up well this season. They have allowed ten sacks on the year, but four of those came last game.
Although his stats don’t match the size of his waste line, coaches insist that Vince Wilfork is having a monster year. Ends Baraka Atkins and Thomas Carroll will need to contain the running threat of Randall and the sweeps to the speedy Jones.
Senior ends Cols Colas and Nathaniel Adibi are the stars of the d-line and they lead the Hokies in sacks with three and two respectively. They have held opponents to a measly 114 yards-per-game on the ground, but West Virginia tore them apart.
D.J. Williams scored his second touchdown of the season last game on a fake punt. Williams, usually quiet off the field, would hit his mom in the face if she had the football. He actually did hit her in the face to get on his high school’s special teams.
Vegas Robinson suffered an ankle injury last year but is second on the team with seven tackles for a loss this year. He is also tied for fourth among Hokies with 49 tackles. Brandon Manning is small for a linebacker at 214 pounds but he had 16 tackles in Tech’s last game.
With the emergence of Greg Threat as a force at safety, Maurice Sikes could have a tough time keeping his starting spot for the whole year. Sean Taylor returns to the line-up and nobody at Virginia Tech is happy about that.
DeAngelo Hall gets a lot of hype for someone with only one interception, although he does return punts well occasionally. No one on VT’s team has more than one pick this season, but opponents average just 186.4yards per game through the air.
Roscoe Parrish will return punts after missing last game with internal bleeding. The ‘Canes hope that FSU’s Stanford Samuels didn’t knock the spirit out of the 5’8″ firecracker. The ‘Canes have struggled kicking the ball off with Mark Gent and punter Brian Monroe taking turns.
Frank Beamer built a reputation with special teams. Earlier this year they blocked their 100th kick during his era and they are inside every opponent’s head when it comes to the kicking game. DeAngelo Hall has taken two punt returns to the house this year.