Game Preview: Virginia Tech, Part 3

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Nate Lyles and his fellow safeties must play pass first and then help stop the run.

In some ways, it is the most basic adage of defensive football. Stop the run. Coaches say it all the time, analysts harp on it throughout broadcasts, and players repeat it ad nauseam. If you want to win, you have to stop the run. Against Virginia Tech, that old proverb is taken to new heights, though.

Coach Frank Beamer’s squads are 136-27-2 when they outrush their opponents. The Hokies are 18-54 when they do not. So needless to say, stopping the run is Virginia’s first concern.

Virginia Defense vs. Virginia Tech Offense

Let’s first address the Brandon Ore situation. His status is doubtful. Does it have an adverse effect on the Tech running game? Maybe, maybe not. I subscribe to the theory that an effective running game is more a function of good offensive line play than the play of the running back. Where the back makes a difference is when it comes to big plays and in that aspect, the loss of Ore could limit the Hokie offense somewhat.

Frankly, I liked Virginia’s chances of slowing the run with Ore. The running game has been average by Tech standards and the Hokies have not had the break-away threats like Kevin Jones and Lee Suggs this season. The Hokies are 8th in the league in rushing but the passing offense is 4th. In total offense, the Hokies are ranked sixth.

The Tech offense is driven by the running game, though. Sure they will attack opponents with deep passes early, but it is used to soften the run defense. The Hokies are primarily a zone, drive-blocking unit and their backs hit the edge from cuts out of the inside running lanes. They are not a big sweep team but they will trap opponents and will attack the force with the option at times.

But Beamer has always been a coach who believes in physically pounding his opponents with the running game, and Virginia is eighth in the ACC against the run. That’s where I think