It's odd to look up and see both Miami and Virginia Tech sitting at 1-2 in the ACC heading into tomorrow night's showdown in Blacksburg.
However since both teams are just like everyone else in the division, and still have hopes for representing the Coastal in the ACCCG, it is still an important game.
To find out the latest on the Hokies, their struggles, their QB, and much more, we caught up with Justin Cates from Gobbler Country.
Here is the full Q&A:
SOTU: When Virginia Tech beat Ohio State 35-21 back on 9/6, they looked like ACC and National Contenders. They are just 2-3 since. What has gone so wrong for the Hokies?
GC: It all starts up front and Tech's offensive line simply hasn't been consistent enough in both pass protection and run blocking. That finally lead to Tech shuffling personnel this week and we'll see redshirt freshman Wyatt Teller make his first start at guard. Injuries have certainly been a factor but turnovers and penalties have been the biggest issue. The Hokies are currently 116th in the nation in penalties with 65 through seven games.
SOTU: As Jr. QB Michael Brewer (11 TD, 11 INT) has gone, so have the Hokies. Is he the answer long term at QB?
GC: With respect to Brewer who is a talented, tough kid, he's essentially a stopgap measure for Tech. Offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler has recruited the position well so far bringing in Chris Durkin and Andrew Ford who are both four-star prospects according to 247Sports. Both are redshirting this season and popular opinion is that one of those kids will start. They may not be ready next season though so I expect another season of Michael Brewer which isn't a bad thing.
SOTU: VT has had a ton of injuries, particularly at RB. How is their health at RB, and overall, heading into Thursday Night's game?
GC: Leading rusher Marshawn Williams will be back Thursday. He suffered a sprained ankle in Tech's win over North Carolina and missed the Pitt debacle. Beyond that we're razor thin in the backfield. Joel Caleb is a converted wide out with very little experience and J.C. Coleman is just too small to handle significant carries up the middle. Sam Rogers is a talented fullback who got some carries at Pitt and probably will get a few again this week.
SOTU: The game is in Blacksburg, and it promises to be a loud and raucous environment. Where does Lane Stadium rank to you in terms of best home field advantages Nationally?
GC: The stadium isn't quite as nuts as it once was for a number of reasons, but people still get up for games like this. Night games (Thursday's in particular) are always crazy in Blacksburg. I've been to a number of stadium's (LSU, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Florida State) and LSU was the only place where it was noticeably louder to my ears. That place rattled the press box. Even with the team's struggles, Lane will still bring the noise this week.
SOTU: Which players and match-ups concern you in facing the 'Canes?
GC: The battle up front with Tech's offensive line and Miami's D-line. If the Hokies can't find a way to create some running lanes and keep Michael Brewer off the turf, it could get ugly. On defense Tech has to at least slow down Duke Johnson because I don't think he can really be contained. Starting middle linebacker Chase Williams may not be healthy for this one (he got hurt at Pitt) which would force redshirt freshman Andrew Motuapuaka into his first start.
SOTU: What are your favorite and least favorite memories in the series?
GC: My favorite has to be in 2004 when the Hokies won at Miami to win the ACC. I can still see Eddie Royal streaking into the end zone to give Tech the lead in the fourth quarter. That was the kind of defensive slugfest I usually expect in this match up. More bittersweet was the 28-26 loss to the eventual national champions in 2001. It was an exciting comeback marred by that dropped two-point conversion. Least favorite? Well anything from the late eighties into early nineties but 2000 has never sat well with me. Frank Beamer put a really injured Michael Vick into the game and he was predictably ineffective. That move never sat well with me.
GC: I think the defenses will dominate in this one. Whichever side can make more offensive plays will have the edge and until something drastic happens that team will be Miami. Despite the home field advantage I just don't like where our team is right now. 17-10 'Canes.
For all things Hokies be sure to drop by Gobbler Country.