Players to Watch: Week 2 Virginia Tech

OSU vs VT

I struggled to come up with a proper introduction for this weeks Players to Watch. This game hits home for me and I’m probably more excited about it than I would be for any other Week 2 match-up. I grew up in a small town in central Virginia, Prince George County, where the large majority of my friends were Hokie fans. If you were not a Hokie fan, you were immediately assumed to be an elitist UVA fan. I was a fan of neither, therefore I suppose I grew up being a college football hipster in the state of Virginia. I always viewed Virginia Tech as good not great and UVA as… well I’ll spare the Cavaliers fan base, they know what their record has been. All of my personal life story aside, this weekend I bid all of my friends, who are Hokies until they die, good luck. They are some of the most loyal fans in a sport where second guessing is as natural to a fan as breathing. Now that the sap is done and respect has been given, lets get down to the guys who will help decide the outcome of this contest Saturday night.

Virginia Tech

Luther Maddy- Defensive Tackle

Since it is Virginia Tech, and Bud Foster has one of the best defensive minds in college football, it is only appropriate that one of his stars is first on this list. Just say this kids name, Luther Maddy. This guy is big, athletic, and an absolute terror on the interior of a line. Maddy is the heart and soul of this Hokie defense. He does most of his damage in the run game beating blockers off the ball and violently meeting the running back in the backfield. He also does an excellent job of moving from sideline to sideline, working through blocks and meeting the running back in the hole. So how do you block him? Double team him right? Not so fast. He is very similar to Michael Bennett in that if you try and double team he does a very good job of getting thin and turning his body to split the double team.

When pass rushing, Maddy likes to use his quickness to get off the ball, get in to his blockers body before they can get hands on him, and spin off of the blocker to make his way to the quarterback. He is also intelligent enough to know that if he gets stonewalled in his initial rush, to watch the quarterback and get his hands up to knock passes down. Maddy is a very experienced and well coached player, and will be a handful for the young OSU offensive line. However, if the Buckeyes can manage Maddy and prevent him from creating negative plays it will eliminate a huge strength in Virginia Tech’s defense.

Michael Brewer- Quarterback

Logan Thomas has been the familiar face under center for the Hokies in recent years. With Thomas’ graduation many Hokie fans are relieved and excited to see new transfer Michael Brewer taking snaps. Brewer was a back up at Texas Tech where quarterbacks throw the ball around like a hot potato getting it in to their hands of their play-makers, while racking up gaudy stats. The question with Thomas was never his physical tools, but whether he could be more of an accurate passer. The complete opposite is true with Brewer. He is extremely accurate, as that is a required trait for Red Raider quarterbacks, but his height could hinder his play. Brewer is listed at 6’1 but looks about all of 5’11 to 6’0. He does not have the mobility of Johnny Manziel so he is not overly reliant on his legs, which has generally helped shorter quarterbacks like Manziel, Vick, and Russel Wilson. Brewer beats people with high quality, quick decision making.

Offensive coordinator Scot Loefller, a former assistant under Urban Meyer at Florida, has adapted his offense to fit Brewer’s strengths and increase his comfort level with the new offense. The Hokies, traditionally a huddle offense, have joined modern football in going to a no huddle offense that has the option to go up tempo in situations. Brewer did very well in his debut for the Hokies going 23-30 for 251 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 INT. Brewer will need a similar performance on Saturday for the Hokies to have a chance. He will be going against a secondary that is young and untested, which should make for an interesting match-up.

Kendall Fuller

Like the Buckeyes, Virginia Tech also had a Freshman All-American making highlight after highlight for their defense last year. Kendall Fuller comes from a long line of shut down corners in his family (older brothers Kyle and Vincent), and is carrying the family flag high and proud in his sophomore campaign. Fuller registered 6 interceptions his freshman year and is looking to continue his All-American level play this season.

He is everything you desire in a top corner. He’s very long at 6’1, can run with anyone in the country, is a sure tackler,and Foster loves to blitz him off the edge. He completely shuts off his side of the field which helps Foster in his scheming knowing not many balls will be thrown Fuller’s way. I expect to see Fuller on Devin Smith most of the night, but don’t be surprised if he shifts inside when Dontre Wilson is lined up at receiver. Redshirt Freshman J.T. Barrett will need to know where #14 is on the field at all times Saturday night.

Ohio State

J.T. Barrett

This almost goes without saying. The Ohio State quarterback has to play well every week in order for Urban Meyer and Tom Herman’s offense to have success. However, this weekend is a big test for the young quarterback. A test that I think should benefit Barrett if he prepares for it properly. Bud Foster as I have said, is one of the most creative minds in college football. He blitzes from everywhere, his corners are in your face and physical, his safeties fly around to make plays, and his front four stunt, shift, and cover sideline to sideline. Barrett’s play will come down to how well he prepares this week. It would be the same story with Braxton Miller. Foster challenges quarterbacks, especially young ones, mentally more than physically. Barrett is known to be a football junkie and a guy who lives in the film room. The young quarterback will need to be glued to his iPad this week. Barrett will be given more of the playbook and he will have to be very responsible with his decisions versus the Hokies.

Dontre Wilson

There may be a wiser choice here, like Jeff Heuerman who could serve as a safety blanket for Barrett, but Wilson could have a more electric impact. Maybe I’m alone, but Wilson looked very close to breaking a punt return and kickoff return last week vs Navy. You can tell he has more confidence in his role in the offense and is playing much faster compared to last year. While the Hokies are known for their sound special teams, Meyer and his Buckeyes aren’t too shabby either and Wilson is the key to that this year.

A prime time, electric environment could be completely set off by Wilson and his game breaking speed. It won’t only be Wilson’s big plays that inspire the Buckeye performance, but he will need to be a consistent threat for Barrett and the offense. Wilson was used in several ways versus Navy as he accumulated 166 all-purpose yards (43 rushing, 46 receiving, 77 return yards). If Hokie fans don’t know Wilson’s name, they certainly will after Saturday’s game. He should have a big impact under the lights.

Joey Bosa

Ohio State need a big game out of their true sophomore superstar just like Tech needs one out of theirs. Bosa did not get much opportunity to have an impact Saturday, but when he did he forced the fumble that led to Darron Lee’s 61 yard touchdown return. Before getting to Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds, Bosa tossed aside his blocker like a sack of potatoes. He is honestly one of the most impressive college players I’ve watched. Saturday night he will have a good amount of opportunities to get after Hokie quarterback Michael Brewer and I not only expect Bosa to collect a sack, but I expect to see one or two passes batted down. Bosa is a freak athlete and without Noah Spence, he will have to have a big game on the edge for the Buckeyes.

But What Do I Know?

Whether you’re a Hokie or Buckeye fan, leave your thoughts on the game below. What players do you think will have the biggest impact?

Trackbacks

  1. […] Looking forward to attending the game versus Virginia Tech on Saturday evening in Ohio Stadium with family and friends. Ronnie provided players to watch on the Virginia Tech side of the ledger. […]

Leave a Reply to Friday Open Thread: Virginia Tech Cancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: