The Hokies are heading home. They’ll play the Arkansas State Red Wolves this Saturday in Blacksburg. After last weekend’s shaky performance against ECU (a 17-10 win), Virginia Tech (2-0, #13 in FBS) should look to dominate the Red Wolves, get their offense back on track, and build momentum as they near ACC play.
It’s no secret the Hokies struggled against the Pirates last Saturday. Turnovers, inconsistent quarterback play, and predictable play calling made their offense look anemic. There was a silver lining to an otherwise terrible game however: the defense. From 2004-2007 the Hokies were a Top Five defense nationally. Last season they finished 52nd in FBS; that’s not good enough.
The ECU game was dominant from a defensive perspective; five sacks, nine tackles for loss, an interception, -15 rushing yards, and only 112 yards overall for the Pirates (ECU record low). If the Hokies keep that up the defense will be known nationally once again, but if the offense remains stuck in neutral the Hokies are doomed when the ACC schedule begins and the competition improves.
Still, in the three games the Hokies and Red Wolves have faced off the Hokies have dominated the series: outscoring Arkansas State 147-14 in the three games. The Wolves do have some talent in duel-threat quarterback Ryan Aplin and running back Frankie Jackson though, and as always, if the Hokies rest on their laurels and don’t take Ark. State seriously they could find themselves in a fight.
Here’s what to watch for Saturday:
Logan Thomas: Improvement Wanted: 8-20 for 90 yards, with a pick. Come on Logan. We’ll give you a pass because it was only your second game as the starter, but some of the throws were way too dangerous. With a strong defense watching your back the last thing you should do is turn the ball over. Whether the Ark. State game is a blowout or not, watch how Thomas reads the defenses and manages the game; it’ll be important as the season progresses.
David Wilson: Playmaker: David Wilson bided his time behind other Tech running backs that have since moved on to the NFL. He’s the guy now, 300 yards 3 TD’s, and a 7.1 YPC average says so; but the fumble in the ECU game, like Thomas’s pick, was unacceptable. There’s a reason backup Josh Oglesby got the carries on the goal line (and 2 TD’s) against ECU: he hangs on to the ball. For Wilson to excel as the lead back he needs to take care of the rock.
Defense: Back to Basics: The ECU game made the D look very good. Ark. State has some playmakers and they run a fast-paced spread attack. The defense, led by Bud Foster, knows now that when the offense struggles they need to control their side of the ball. We may not see a consistent offense from the Hokies all the season, but we should see the same old defense.
When it’s all said and done, the Hokies control the Red Wolves from start to finish:
About the Author
Written by Frank Sullivan
Frank is a graduate of Old Dominion University, sports fan, author, and founder of TheBloosh.com. He's been working with prosportsblogging.com since April 2011, and has covered the Chicago Bulls, Baltimore Ravens, Virginia Tech Hokies Football, and the Washington Wizards. Frank can be reached @franksullivan on twitter.